With rain threatening the area before the race even got going, aggressive driving, particularly through turns on the resealed surface in Fontana, was popular in the early laps. Drivers, perhaps positioning themselves for a run at the lead at Lap 101 with rain threatening to shorten the race, were making aggressive moves and pushing the speed gun traveling through pit road (with numerous drivers penalized for speeding).

And Stewart was perhaps most aggressive, often diving low into turns to attempt to a pass with very little room, then sliding back up the track out of the turn to get in front of the car. It did not sit well with some drivers, but it worked for the 2011 Sprint Cup champ, who took the lead over from Kyle Busch at Lap 86 and never relented other than during green-flag stops.