Fontana II: Dodge Motorsports preview

DODGE AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY * Kasey Kahne recorded the lone Dodge victory at the two-mile, D-shaped oval in 2006 when he started ninth and led 130 laps en route to his fifth win of the season. * Kurt Busch swept Bud Pole...


* Kasey Kahne recorded the lone Dodge victory at the two-mile, D-shaped oval in 2006 when he started ninth and led 130 laps en route to his fifth win of the season.

* Kurt Busch swept Bud Pole honors for both races in 2006. He also started from the pole in last year's second event at the California track.

*         None of the 15 previous races at California Speedway have been
won from the pole.  Only one has been won from the front row.

* Bobby Labonte will be making his 535th career start this weekend. His first career start came in 1991 at Dover. His last win came at Homestead in 2003.

* Elliott Sadler's last Sprint Cup victory came at Fontana (Sept., 2004).

* Three current Dodge drivers have won at Auto Club Speedway; Kurt Busch (2003), Elliott Sadler (2004), and Kasey Kahne (2006).

* Robby Gordon, owner-driver of the No. 7 Dodge Charger is a California native (Cerritos).


* Sam Hornish Jr. -- The three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indy 500 winner was involved in a four-car mishap early in his debut at Auto Club Speedway in February. The No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Charger is currently 35th in the owner standings. Hornish finished 37th at Bristol last week after being involved in seven-car mishap on lap 216.

* Patrick Carpentier -- The driver of the No. 10 Dodge Charger from Gillett Evernham Motorsports failed to qualify for the race at Bristol. Carpentier will be looking to make his first start at the Fontana track as qualifying for the February race was rained out.


Kasey Kahne, Driver, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger

With two 40th-place finishes in the last two races, what are your thoughts heading into Auto Club Speedway and Richmond? "It's been a good season for us and I'm glad that we're in a position to still make the Chase and have a really good shot at it. We've ran into some problems the last two weeks that set us back. I was looking at sixth in points and being able to get there (into the Chase). Now, we're a little further behind. I'm just excited to be in the position that we're in. I have a real legitimate shot at making the Chase and a great shot at running well this weekend. California is a good track for us and so is Richmond. I'm just looking forward to the challenge and seeing how it all works out."

Ryan Newman, Driver, No 12 Kodak Dodge Charger

On racing until the end of the season? "It's really important to me that we finish on a strong note with this Kodak Dodge team. We are still battling for that last spot in the Chase, and even though we have quite a bit of ground to make up, we're not giving up. If we don't get that spot, then our goal will be to finish 13th in points. Whatever the situation, I'm here to win and so are the guys on this team. Last weekend, the guys did a great job. We didn't have a great car in practice, but they hustled and really battled and we ended up finishing sixth. I was really proud of them because that is a good day at Bristol. We're going into California with momentum and the mentality that we are going to do whatever we can to get a solid finish -- just like we were able to do last weekend at Bristol."

Kurt Busch, Driver, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger

Thoughts heading into the Pepsi 500: "We just have to come in there (California) with a positive mental attitude to start with and knowing how consistent we've been is a definite boost. Not worrying about the points or focusing on the Chase this time around, we know we can afford to try some things that we couldn't do if we were in a conservative mode like many of the teams will be in. We'll try to get the car handling as well as we can and we may use the race to do some experimenting for the future. But as the race nears the end, we can afford to gamble if it comes down to it. We can look at the fuel mileage angle, the tire strategy or whatever it calls for during the final 100 miles. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Elliott Sadler, Driver, No. 19 McDonald's Dodge Charger

On California Speedway: "Everyone says California and Michigan are very similar racetracks, but they do have their subtle differences. I'm not sure if it's the track temperature or difference in humidity, but for some reason they race just a little bit different. They also have similarities - both are huge, multi-groove tracks where you can race pretty much anywhere you want. The trick is to find which line the car takes to and adjust as the track and car change throughout the race."

Sam Hornish Jr., Driver, No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Charger

On returning to Fontana: "I've definitely had a lot of success at Auto Club Speedway in the IndyCar Series. I have two wins there and have always finished well there in the Indy cars. The track in Fontana is a very similar to Michigan International Speedway (MIS). It's like being at home a little bit since I was raised around MIS. Although we've finished 22nd at Michigan twice this year in the Sprint Cup car, we have raced much better than that. Since both tracks are so similar, I am expecting this to be a good weekend for myself and the Penske Truck Rental team."

Bobby Labonte, Driver, No. 43 Cheerios/Totino's Dodge Charger

On returning to Fontana: "I can't believe it's already time to go back to Fontana. It seems like yesterday that we had that long rain delay and ended up racing on Monday. The No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge was really fast back in February before the rain came. The car just wasn't the same the next day on the green racetrack. This time you don't have to worry about rain as much as you do the heat. Plus, it's a night race so you have to adjust your setups accordingly.

"We're taking a new generation Petty Enterprises chassis to Fontana this weekend and we're excited about its potential. Chad McCumbee tested it for us at Kentucky a couple of weeks ago and everyone left pleased with the way it handled. California is a downforce and motor track. This new car has less downforce than the other car, so handling is even more important. Every team is trying something and this is one of our latest pieces to try to get the car to turn a little better without being so loose off the corners."

Kyle Petty, Driver, No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge Charger

On the importance of racing in Southern California: "It's important for NASCAR to keep a large presence in southern California because we have been there for so long. A lot of the new fans don't remember when we raced at Ontario and Riverside. I'm one of the few that have raced at all three tracks, including Fontana. Ontario was a track way before its time. It was a replica of Indianapolis, but it had a ton of fan-friendly amenities that most of the tracks have today. That was a cool place. Riverside used to be the first race on the schedule, not Daytona. There is a lot of history for us in southern California."

On the importance of rivalries in NASCAR: "Are rivalries good for our sport, for any sport? Absolutely. It draws a line in the sand. You're either over here or over there. In Carl (Edwards) and Kyle (Busch) you have the makings of a rivalry that could last for awhile. Both are young and on top of the sport. This could be the best rivalry since Earnhardt-Gordon. Out of the car they are two different people, so they appeal to two totally different groups. In the car they are aggressive and will probably get together a few more times on the track. I hope this doesn't go away, but if it does we are going to be treated to one heck of a championship fight this year, at least."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Patrick Carpentier , Kasey Kahne , Elliott Sadler , Sam Hornish Jr.