“They need to let the race track be,” Stewart said. “You can change all the banking you want. It’s still a 2-mile track. The good thing is that the racing has become two- and three-wide and you can run on different spots on the race track. But that’s all you can hope for. “It is what it is there. If they wanted to do something, they should’ve been a little smarter and built a half-mile or three-quarter mile oval. But anytime you build something that big, you’re going to spread cars out.” DRIVIN’ THRU There are a couple of reasons why Kyle Busch likes to compete at California Speedway. Never mind that Busch holds the track Cup qualifying (188.435 mph, 2005) or that he scored his first victory at Fontana (Sony HD 500, 2005). He became the youngest-ever Cup pole winner at 19 years, 9 months, and 24 days of age and the youngest Cup race winner at 20 years, 4 months, and 2 days. Both of the records were previously held by Donald Thomas and stood for more than 50 years. “I like the `flatness’ of California,” Busch said. “I grew up on a relatively flat track at the Las Vegas Bullring and I’ve done well at New Hampshire and Phoenix, so I guess it just suits my style of driving.” But that’s not the only reason. “I was able to sit on the pole two years ago and we won a race there, too, so we’ve had some real good luck at California,” he said. “I’m looking forward to California because we can run well and it’s a West Coast race, so I’ll be able to get In-N-Out Burger, too.” HE’S BACK Ron Hornaday Jr., a former Palmdale resident, drives a Chevy Silverado for Kevin Harvick on the Craftsman Truck Series and will race Friday night. He has competed 13 times at the Fontana track – seven in the Busch Series, four in the Trucks and once in the Winston West and Cup. It’s a return to the area where he established his reputation. “Going to California is always good for me because of the fans; the race track is close to my hometown,” Hornaday said. “In the last California race, we lost the master cylinder and had no brakes. Heading into the second race with a seventh place finish at Daytona, is a good way to start the season off.” VICTORY JUNCTION CAMP Applications are being accepted for summer camp at Victory Junction Camp, created in 2004 by Kyle and Pattie Petty in honor of their late son Adam. More than 4,500 campers ages 7-15 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses enjoyed what the Randleman, N.C., camp has offered. In addition to traditional activities – horseback riding, boating, fishing, arts and crafts – there are also other events such as a water park, theater, bowling alley, miniature golf and NASCAR related program areas. “This is a really busy time of year for Victory Junction,” said Mark Hendrickson, Director of Medical Communications and Development for Victory Junction. “Our goal is to spread the word to insure we fill each of our 10 disease specific summer sessions to capacity. The capacity of each week ranges from 80 – 125 campers but it’s important for parents to get their child’s application in by the March 31 deadline.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Chassis No. 20 won three of the last eight races in 2006, including successive wins at Atlanta and Texas. “What you do at California is solely based on what you and your team can do with your race car, not what drafting line you’re in or how the car behind you is going to affect your next move,” Stewart said. “I enjoy going to California because I really feel that’s where our season starts. “That’s a track where you don’t really worry about what everybody else’s car is doing. You worry about what your car is doing. “You’re racing the race track. You’re not racing everybody else. It’s a good opportunity to get back into the swing of things. Once you leave California, you feel like the season has officially started.” Don’t count Stewart as one who wants to see the track reconfigured. Last Sunday, Stewart was dominant at Daytona but a wreck with Kurt Busch cut his day short and he ended with a disappointing 39th-place finish. Stewart has never won at Fontana, one of four tracks that has eluded him, but he brings a reliable Home Depot Chevrolet.
FONTANA – If history is any indication, this could well be Tony Stewart’s year to win his second Nextel Cup Series championship. In 2002, his title season, Stewart left Daytona with a last-place finish, yet managed to claim the crown after the 40th race.