The hills are alive with the sound of NASCAR, and the nearby San Gabriel Mountains (which are often called hills in California) can be seen even more clearly on Saturday than Friday. DAVE TALLEY, Director of Communications for Auto Club Speedway has been with the Ontario CA track (Inland Empire) for the past two years and this is the first race weekend he’s seen the mountains. There is near-perfect weather for the weekend – warm and sunny with blue skies. He anticipates with the temperature in the eighties and low nineties, the race will draw a nice walk-up crowd. So far ticket sales for the weekend are about the same as last year, and the ticket prices have remained the same. Considering that the unemployment rate is reportedly now higher in the Inland Empire than in Detroit, Talley is comfortable with the figures.

KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Toyota has the NASCAR Nationwide Series pole for Saturday afternoon’s 300 race. His lap was 39.552/182.039 mph. Second through seventh were Sprint Cup drivers: KEVIN HARVICK/No.33 Chevrolet; BRAD KESELOWSKI/No.22 Dodge; MARTIN TRUEX Jr/No.99 Toyota; JOEY LOGANO/No.20 Toyota; CARL EDWARDS/No.60 Ford; and PAUL MENARD/No.98 Ford. Eighth and ninth were ARIC ALMIROLA/No.No.88 Chevrolet and STEVE WALLACE/No.66 Toyota. Tenth was Cup driver RYAN NEWMAN/No.1 Chevrolet.

JOHNNY CHAPMAN/No.89 Chevrolet was thirty-seventh fastest, but didn’t make the field. Neither did ERIC McCLURE/No.24 Ford, who was thirty-eighth fastest.

NNS Crew Chief Pit Stall Choice
NNS Crew Chief Pit Stall Choice. Photo by Lynne Huntting
Immediately after qualifying, the NNS Crew Chiefs gather in the NASCAR Tech area to draw for their race pit stalls. The qualifying order determines the order for the Crew Chief Choice. The most preferred stall is right at Pit Exit, and then any stall close to a pit lane break in the wall, to make it easier to get to the garage.

As the NNS cars are impounded after qualifying until the race, the majority of the Nationwide garage doors were shut and few crew members were to be found. NASCAR impounds all the NNS cars before each race, but only at selected Sprint Cup races. For Nationwide, it allows the schedule to run for more compact two days instead of three, which is a cost containment factor for the teams. The NNS Series Director, JOE BALASH, has discretion to allow a team to work on the car if there are extenuating factors.

Saturday morning, the NASCAR Garage in general was filled with all kinds of guided Pit Tours.

DAVID HASSELHOFF is singing the National Anthem for the Nationwide Series race. He holds the Guinness Book of Records for being the most watched TV star in the world. His racing experience includes six years as a CART team owner with ARIE LUYENDYK as driver, and then six years with Newman Haas. In meeting with the media Saturday morning, he showed a wide knowledge of racing of several varieties. Hasselhoff thinks NASCAR is a better fit for him than any other series, and he wants to start his own team, Team Hoff.

David Hasselhoff
The Hoff. Photo by Anne Profitt

HASSELHOFF was one of the celebrity partners this fall on Dancing With The Stars, and was asked how he got on with his partner, KYM JOHNSON of Australia. She refused to date him while they were still on the show. Hoff was voted off the first round and now they’re dating. “I didn’t get the win, but I got the girl.”