Auto Club Speedway traditionally has been a mighty test of horsepower and willpower for NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars, but this season, in particular, there is reason to believe that a 17-year string of Cup winners in the Xfinity race there may be stopped.
Full-time Xfinity drivers Michael Annett started the year with a victory at Daytona and Christopher Bell answered at Atlanta – the first time a season has opened with back-to-back Xfinity Series regulars winning since 2012 when James Buescher won the Daytona season-opener and Elliott Sadler won the next week at Phoenix.
RELATED: Full schedule for Auto Club
In particular – and with good timing – a pair of California drivers are leading the way in the series. Defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick, of Corning, California, leads the championship by four points over Christopher Bell heading into Saturday’s Production Alliance Group 300 (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Reddick has two top-five and three top-10 finishes in the opening four races and has led the second-most laps (75) among series regulars this season. A second championship would make him the first to earn back-to-back titles since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011-12.
Fellow Californian Cole Custer, of Ladera Ranch, finished runner-up to Reddick in the 2018 Xfinity Series Championship and trails his rival by only 11 points heading to their home track. As with the Richard Childress Racing driver Reddick, Custer has a pair of top-fives and three top-10s through the opening four races with a best effort of runner-up in Atlanta.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has the second best average finish this season (7.2) and a top-10 finish (sixth place in 2018) in two previous Xfinity starts at Auto Club Speedway.
The field will undoubtedly face a major challenge from Toyota driver Kyle Busch who begins the first of his two opportunities to score a historic 200th NASCAR national series win in this Saturday race. Busch leads all drivers with six previous wins in the Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway.