Possible 2010 Championship Contender Jason Leffer via nascarmedia.com Credit Getty Images for NASCAR
Saturday's Nationwide Series showdown at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., could come down to a showdown between two California natives -- series regular Jason Leffler and Kevin Harvick. The two drivers are coming off drastically different finishes, though, in last weekend's season-opener at Daytona.
Leffler, a Long Beach native, is hoping to bounce back after a dismal Daytona race. After being collected in a multi-car incident last weekend that resulted in a 33rd-place finish for he and his Braun Racing team, Leffler is looking to right the ship in his home state on the road to a 2010 season that he hopes will produce a series title for the first non-Sprint Cup full-timer in several years.
If he's to right the ship at Fontana, though, he's going to have to overcome a history of poor performances at Auto Club Speedway. Historically, he hasn't run well there, or at least not consistently. His average finish at the track is 22.2, and he only has two top-10 finishes at Auto Club.
Harvick, a native of Bakersfield, on the other hand, is coming off a third-place Daytona finish. He may not be an official Nationwide full-timer for 2010 yet, but he has hinted that he's pondering the possibility. If he does decide to once again race full-time in the Nationwide Series, he'll definitely be one of the favorites Leffler would have to go through if he's to claim a title for the independents.
Auto Club Speedway is one of seven tracks Harvick has yet to post a win, but he's gotten close and has improved his finish there over the last three years. His last three finishes in Nationwide Series competition have each been better than the last -- sixth, third, and second. If Harvick continues the pattern, the only possible finish could be first.
Saturday's Stater Brothers 300 at Auto Club Speedway can be seen live on ESPN2, beginning at 5 p.m. ET.