FONTANA, Calif. — Kevin Harvick will join elite company if he wins his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series race.
Harvick has won back-to-back-to-back races, at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix, and will start 10th Sunday in the Auto Club 400 on the 2-mile California track.
Eight drivers have won four consecutive races in the modern era: Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
“I’m just happy to win one, let alone two in a row, three in a row,” Harvick said. “And this most likely probably will be the only opportunity that you’ll ever have to do it because it’s hard to string together just putting a whole day together and the odds of putting three weeks together.
“But anytime you can put your name next to a group of guys on a list that you just mentioned is something that’s pretty special and just shows the magnitude of where our race team is at right now and how good it’s actually functioning.” Here’s a breakdown of the lineup for the Auto Club 400:
1. Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota): The second straight pole for Truex and his first at California. He started fourth and finished fourth last year while leading 73 laps.
2. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota): Busch earned his first-career NASCAR Cup win when he captured the September 2005 race at Fontana. He has three wins at the track, including two in his last six starts.
3. Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet): The 2017 winner is a favorite to repeat as he has won the last four Cup races on 2-mile tracks.
4. Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota): He is in a good spot to earn some stage points. He has earned only one stage point all season.
5. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet): His only top-10 finish in the last 14 races was his win in the Daytona 500.
Martin Truex Jr. has claimed the pole for the NASCAR Cup series race in Fontana after a qualifying session in which 13 drivers didn’t complete a lap.
Thirteen drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott, failed to pass technical inspection prior to qualifying Friday at Auto Club Speedway. The drivers will all start in the back of the field Sunday.
Larson focuses on driving and isn’t the type to immerse himself in the mechanics of the car. Considering his impressive résumé, the 25-year-old has no reason to change his approach.
6. Joey Logano (Team Penske No. 22 Ford): Has a seventh, fourth and fifth in his past three California starts.
7. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford): The good news is he’s 11th in the standings. The amazing part of that? It’s the worst among the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers. He is the top-starting SHR car Sunday.
8. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske No. 12 Ford): He has started in the top 12 in four of the five races this year.
9. Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet): He has 23 starts at California, leading only 22 laps.
10. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford): In his one career Cup win at California (2011), he led just one lap.
11. Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford): NASCAR is probably happy he didn’t win the pole considering he’s the sponsored “rival” driver (Miller Lite) of new pole sponsor Busch.
13. Trevor Bayne (Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford): Has no finish better than 20th at this track.
14. Paul Menard (Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford): A hard crash last week dropped him from ninth to 14th in the standings.
15. Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet): He has three career top-5s at California but those all came in his first four starts.
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford): Stenhouse has completed 1,020 of the 1,022 laps in the races he’s been in at California.
17. Ty Dillon (Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet): Best starting spot of the season for Dillon.
18. Matt DiBenedetto (Go Fas Racing No. 32 Ford): Has back-to-back top-25 finishes. That’s good for this team.
19. Darrell Wallace Jr. (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet): Needs to avoid the loose wheel issues from Phoenix.
20. Gray Gaulding (BK Racing No. 23 Toyota): Like many in his position on the track, he will be watching cars go by as those who failed pre-qualifying tech are on fresh tires.
21. David Ragan (Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford): With RPM leaving Ford, this organization has gotten a boost with a little extra funding this year.
22. Michael McDowell (Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford): Should have his best finish at this track Sunday as he has a best of 31st in eight career starts.
23. Jeffrey Earnhardt (StarCom Racing No. 00 Chevrolet): Was among four drivers who didn’t even bother taking a lap in the second round of qualifying to likely save tires.
24. Reed Sorenson (Premium Motorsports No. 55 Chevrolet): First start of the season for Sorenson.
25. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota): He is the best in owner points among those who didn’t pass tech, so he starts ahead of all those others.
26. Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford): Is this the week he snaps his winless streak (it’s at 189)? He was third at California a year ago.
27. Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford): He finished 19 spots better than where he qualified two weeks ago. And 15 spots better last week. This week could be an even wider gap.
28. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet): He’s best in points among the Hendrick drivers, so when none of them qualify, he starts the best of all of them, too.
29. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet): At least he has good company at the rear of the field to learn how to handle the worn California surface.
30. Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota): Suarez will have to start at the rear because he crashed his primary car in practice Friday and has gone to a backup car.
31. Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet): Would be starting three spots higher if not for being docked 25 points for a rear suspension violation from Phoenix. Even though the team is appealing the penalty, the points are taken away until the appeal is heard.
32. AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet): If he wants to know what Hendrick cars are doing, he should be able to learn as he starts amid them.
33. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet): Still has that competitive fight. Will need it Sunday.
34. Kasey Kahne (Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet): Car got through tech but there was not enough time left in the qualifying session for him to get in a lap.
35. Timmy Hill (Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Chevrolet): Hill is in this car for the second consecutive week.
36. Ross Chastain (Premium Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet): Has two top-20 finishes at this track in the Xfinity Series.
37. Cole Whitt (TriStar Motorsports No. 72 Chevrolet): The TriStar team has the fewest owner points of any team that has competed in all four races.