CONCORD, N.C. – On Sunday, February 26, the NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Auto Club Speedway for the second points-paying race of the 2023 season. The race will mark the first of three consecutive events to be held on the West Coast.

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Opening in 1997, the Southern California facility has been on the schedule at least a year, only missing 2021 due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Following Sunday’s main event, renovations are expected to begin the work to turn the venue into a short track. As a result, Auto Club will not be on the 2024 schedule. 

The current 2-mile oval is one of the fastest tracks that does not utilize the superspeedway-style aero package. The wide corners are banked at 14 degrees and provide several different lines for drivers to utilize. The frontstretch totals 3,100 feet in length at 11 degrees of banking, while the back straightaway is 2.500 feet long and has three degrees of banking. Last season’s event saw the Next Gen car provide close-quarters racing that included a heavier reliance on drafting than in the past at the facility. 

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Kyle Larson enters this weekend not only as the hometown hero but also the defending race winner. Auto Club has historically been a great track for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet. In his eight Cup Series starts in Fontana, he has earned a pair of wins as well as two runner-up finishes. Larson successfully held off Austin Dillion and Daniel Suarez from taking the top spot in the closing laps to secure the win in 2022. The 2-mile circuits on the schedule have been in the 2021 Cup Series champion's wheelhouse. He has five combined wins at Auto Club and Michigan International Speedway as well as the second-best combined average finish at those tracks (11.95) among active drivers. The 30-year-old Elk Grove, California, native will aim for his fourth Cup Series win in his home state this weekend (Larson also won at Sonoma Raceway in 2021).

Fontana has been an up-and-down track for Alex Bowman in his Cup Series career. He had a dominating showing in his 2020 victory. After winning stage one, the Tucson, Arizona, native earned a runner-up finish in stage two. In the final stage, the field simply could not catch the then No. 88 entry as he cruised to victory, leading 110 laps in the process. In his other five starts here, he has finished outside the top 10. The 2022 race saw Bowman running fourth on lap 179 before contact with the wall resulted in a 25th-place finish.

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While he has not yet claimed victory at Fontana, Chase Elliott has shown speed at the 2-mile racetrack. He has scored one top-five finish and three top-10s in six starts at Auto Club. Last season, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 paced the field for 12 laps before late-race contact in a battle for the lead culminated in a 26th-place result. His 9.39 average finish on active 2-mile venues (Auto Club and Michigan International Speedway) is the best among active drivers and second-best among all drivers. 

In his first three starts at Auto Club, William Byron was the definition of consistency. From 2018-2020, the No. 24 entry finished 15th three straight times. Last season, Byron was on target for his best showing yet at this track in the Cup Series. However, a flat tire in the final stage caused Byron to lose control of the car and he made contact with Tyler Reddick. The incident brought a premature end to what had been a solid day for the team in the first two stages. While the final results showed 34th, the team finished third and ninth in stages one and two, respectively. Byron had the third-fastest car on green-flag speed (according to NASCAR loop data) in the race and led 16 laps on the day. 

Hendrick Motorsports has claimed a Cup Series record 12 victories at Auto Club Speedway. Jimmie Johnson holds the record for most wins at the track with six – including his first career victory in 2002. Team vice chairman and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon has three triumphs to his name, including a win in inaugural race at the track in 1997. Kyle Busch, Bowman and Larson have each earned a single victory at the track for the Rick Hendrick-owned team.

RELATED: Every Hendrick Motorsports win at Auto Club Speedway

Here is what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.


Group practice will take place on SaturdayFeb. 25 at 2:05 p.m. ET and be broadcast on FS1. Immediately following the practice session will be Cup Series qualifying at 2:50 p.m. ET, also available on FS1. After car takes time in the first round of qualifying, the top-five teams in each group will compete in the final round for the pole position. Byron and Bowman will be in Group A, while Elliott and Larson are in Group B.


The 200-lap Cup Series main event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 26, and will be broadcast on FOX.


The race will be on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). Both outlets will broadcast all the Cup Series action from Auto Club.  


Yes. Download the FOX Sports Live app for online coverage. Fans can also keep up with the action on Twitter by following @TeamHendrick.  


It varies by location, but this link allows viewers to find the channels by entering their zip code and selecting their television provider.  

Data provided by Racing Insights

2: Most consecutive wins by an organization at Auto Club. Hendrick Motorsports has done this twice (in its October 2009 and February 2010 wins as well as its March 2020 and February 2022 wins). A victory on Sunday would see the team become the first to win three in a row at this facility. 

4: Active streak of races Byron had led a lap at the Fontana, California, venue, which is the most among active drivers in the Cup Series. If the 25-year-old was to led a lap on Sunday, he would tie Denny Hamlin for the record of most consecutive races at this track with a lap led (five). 

12.17: Average finish from Elliott at Auto Club in his career. This mark is third-best among drivers entered in Sunday's race.

110: The number of laps Bowman led in his 2020 win at the 2-mile track. It is the highest total of laps led for the 29-year-old in a race win and the third-highest total he's led in a single race.

113: Points earned by Larson during the West Coast swing in 2022. This was four points clear of the next closest driver.