When the Sprint Cup Series has come to Auto Club Speedway lately, it’s been the Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick show. The last two spring races at the two-mile racetrack have featured epic duels between the two California natives.
In February 2010, Johnson, who hails from nearby El Cajon, claimed his track- record-extending fifth win at California, but this one didn’t come with ease. Harvick, a Bakersfield-native, chased down Johnson and battled him for the lead after a late-race restart, but Harvick scraped the wall with just four laps to go, allowing Johnson to drive away for the victory.
Harvick finished second in that race but got payback the following year when he passed Johnson for the lead between turns three and four on the final lap and then held off Johnson at the finish line by just 0.14 seconds for his first win at California.
“The last two years, the race has pretty much come down to us and the No. 48 team [Johnson],” Harvick said. “The year before I ran into the wall and last year we won. That was good to come back and rebound from the mistake from 2010 and being able to race with Jimmie was a lot of fun.”