NASCAR's West Coast natives tame the #NASCARGoesWest tracks

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kevin Harvick’s dominating victory in Sunday’s Pennzoil four hundred introduced by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was head-delivering its commonplace of excellence. For NASCAR West Coasters like the Californian Harvick, profitable on NASCAR’s Western Swing has turn into a specific supply of delight. 

And statistics present, profitable occurs so much for the West Coasters on the sport’s Western Swing.

This week’s prime three finishers at Vegas, for instance, all hail from the area. Along with Harvick, from Bakersfield, Calif., runner-up Kyle Busch is a Las Vegas native and third-place finisher Kyle Larson is from Elk Grove, Calif. 

5 Monster Power NASCAR Cup drivers from the West — Harvick, Busch, Larson, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch — account for 33 wins at the three #NASCARGoesWest tracks – Las Vegas, ISM Raceway in Phoenix and Auto Membership Speedway in California. 

Add one other six wins — masking all three venues — for those who rely California native and retired Cup champion Jeff Gordon’s work there. 

VIDEO: Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch wreck arduous in Las Vegas 

AJ Allmendinger of Los Gatos, Calif., hasn’t gained but on the Western Swing, however he did earn the pole place at ISM Raceway in 2010 and has two prime-10 begins in his final 4 Auto Membership Speedway races. Phoenix native Alex Bowman gained the pole place at his hometown monitor in 2016 driving for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

With a pair of trophies in three races already this season, Harvick is driving an enormous swell of momentum into this week’s TicketGuardian 500 (three:30 p.m. ET; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM) at ISM Raceway. It’s a venue the place he has already produced a profession spotlight. 

He has a collection-greatest eight wins at ISM Raceway and 19-prime-10s in 30 begins. He gained 5 of six races between 2013 and 2016, ending runner-up in the solely race throughout that stretch that he did not win. He hasn’t completed worse than sixth in the final 9 ISM Raceway races. 

For Harvick, spending day trip west is one thing he notably appears ahead to and this yr he is doing one thing he has by no means achieved earlier than — competing in a NASCAR Okay&N West Collection race at Kern County Raceway in his native Bakersfield. 

“To be brutally trustworthy with you, I’m wanting ahead to going to race the Okay&N automotive greater than any of them subsequent Thursday — not as a result of I do not take pleasure in what I do right here, however as a result of I’ve by no means raced at Kern County Raceway in my hometown,” Harvick stated final weekend in Las Vegas.

“I like coming to all three of those races as a result of I get to see so many followers and associates. The race of the three weeks that we’re out right here, the 4 that I’m going to race, the one I’m wanting ahead to the most is the Okay&N race as a result of it is not one thing I get to do all the time. 

“If I needed to decide one out of the three [Cup races he is most fond of] I might decide California simply because I really like the floor and the way a lot the automobiles put on out the tires and slide round and the a number of grooves and all the issues that include Auto Membership Speedway.”

For West Coast natives competing in a sport as soon as historically related to the Southeast, racing in locations akin to Las Vegas, Phoenix and California has been an opportunity to shine in entrance of the followers and supporters who watched them set up themselves and ascend at the native tracks all through the area.

That those self same drivers appear to naturally fare so properly “at house” is appreciated by staff, by fan and by driver.

And a trophy this weekend would certainly be welcomed by Johnson, the seven-time champion who hasn’t gained a race since final Spring. His mark of 25 races since a victory is the longest in his profession, albeit a small time-frame by any aggressive commonplace. And he is returning to the land of victory donuts and champagne toasts. 

Johnson is second solely to Harvick in trophy hauls and optimism at ISM Raceway with 4 wins, three pole positions and 20 prime-10 finishes in 29 begins at the monitor. He captured these 4 victories throughout a 5-race span throughout the 2007-09 seasons. He has 4 prime-eleven showings — and a pole — in the final six races at Phoenix. 

And if Arizona does not show to be the place that restores his profitable methods, Johnson is the gold commonplace in his native California, the monitor the place he hoisted his first of eighty three trophies. He boasts a collection-greatest six wins at the 2-mile Auto Membership Speedway. He has scored a pair of pole positions and amassed sixteen prime-10 finishes in 23 begins at the monitor – his final win coming in 2016. 

Equally, Larson has confirmed himself prime-shelf at Auto Membership Speedway, profitable from the pole place there final yr. He was runner-up at the monitor in his Cup race debut there 4 years in the past. 

With the exception of Larson (who was runner-up in the 2017 spring ISM Raceway race), Harvick, Johnson and each Busch brothers have victories at the all the time-robust 1-miler. Kyle Busch has completed in the prime 5 in his final 5 Phoenix races together with runner-up in 2016. His older brother Kurt gained at ISM Raceway in 2005 and has prime-10 finishes in 5 of the final seven races right here.

At Auto Membership Speedway, Kyle Busch has three victories, together with again-to-again wins in 2013 and 2014. His older brother Kurt gained at California in 2003 and has 4 prime-10s in the final six races there. 

The chance to compete in entrance of a “hometown” crowd is one thing Kyle Busch says he appreciates for aggressive and nostalgic causes. 

“Everyone hates the time change,” he stated. “I exploit that to my benefit since I feel I am often on West Coast time, anyway. I nonetheless have not gotten East Coast time down but. 

“It is enjoyable for me. It is a cool environment and the climate is nice with out the humidity. If it is scorching out, it is good and heat. And if it is chilly, it is a crisp chilly 

“It is nonetheless residence and I really like being out West.”

Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service.