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NASCAR Roundup: Old asphalt, new package point toward fine racing at Fontana

Associated Press

FONTANA, Calif. – The gloriously weathered asphalt on Auto Club Speedway’s 2-mile track has a long history of producing four-wide racing and fantastic finishes.

NASCAR’s new low-downforce package has already created excitement and thrills in the first four races of the new season.

Drivers think the combination will be dynamite at Fontana on Sunday.

“I get a sense that everybody is really amped up about it, and I think the reason is that you can really drive here,” Carl Edwards said. “Just watch the in-car cameras. Watch what’s going on: Guys have got their heads laid against the left-side headrest. You get to work here. You get to really use the skills you have as a race car driver. That’s why we all started driving race cars, because cars are fun to drive like that.”

The closest NASCAR race to Hollywood is also the seamiest – as in the seams in the circuit’s oldest asphalt, which is brutal on tires and taxing on the drivers’ skills.

The big bumps in the corners and backstretch of this hot, slick racing surface can lead to mistakes or brilliance, depending on the drivers’ abilities and misfortunes. Kyle Busch surged to win here in 2013 when leaders Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wrecked on the final lap, and Brad Keselowski got around Kevin Harvick on the last lap to win last year.

“I think it’s some of the best racing, if not the best racing, of the year,” Keselowski said.

So take four tires on every stop, put your foot on the floor, don’t be afraid to run near the wall – and get ready to have some fun.

“You could write a book about a lap at this place,” Edwards said. “There’s so much happening out there. Where you place your tires, how you enter the corner, what the guy in front of you is doing – all of those things add up. … You never really know what you’re going to get, and I think that’s good. It’s a little bit unpredictable. It’s definitely tough, and to me, that’s part of the fun.”

Xfinity Series

Austin Dillon passed Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez on the final lap and surged to an improbable victory in the Xfinity Series race at Fontana.

Busch got within two miles of his record-tying fourth consecutive Xfinity win after leading 133 of the 150 laps, but the defending Sprint Cup Series champ got a flat tire while attempting to save fuel.

Dillon led one lap, setting a record for fewest laps led by a winner.

Busch finished second and Darrell Wallace Jr. moved up to third.

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