It has been over 700 days since the NASCAR Cup Series drivers have been to southern California and Auto Club Speedway to kick off the “west coast swing” of the NASCAR schedule.

The Cup Series returns with a new car and more challenges.

The season is only in the second week and once again, several teams have been hit with inspection issues. A total of seven teams had to make more than one trip through the inspection process with one driver failing three times.

Driving for 23XI Racing, Kurt Busch’s number 45 car failed pre-qualifying inspection three times; as a result he will not be allowed to make a qualifying run, will start the race from the back of the field, lose his car chief David Bryant for the race, and have to serve a pass-through penalty down pit road once the race begins.

Six other teams failed the inspection process two times and will lose a member for the race and their pit stall selection…

the Stewart-Haas Racing number four driven by Kevin Harvick

the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing number six car driven by Brad Keselowski

the Team Penske number 12 car driven by Ryan Blaney
The Team Penske number 22 car driven by Joey Logano

the 23XI Racing number 23 car driven by Bubba Wallace

and the Live Fast Motorsports number 78 driven by BJ McLeod

In a format almost as unique as Daytona, the drivers will be divided into two groups; each will get a 15 minute practice session before qualifying. Group A will qualify and then group B will qualify; the top five drivers from each group will make a qualifying run to determine who whill sit on the pole.

During practice, Kevin Harvick hit the wall and had to have his car car towed to the garage. Stewart-Haas Racing has a single backup car for use in case of a crash and four race teams.

Chris Buescher spins outr but drives his car to the pit road.

Ross Chastain hits the wall hard and is stalled on the track. The safety crew has to two the car back to the garage. After having the wind knocked out of him, Chastain will not make a qualifying run.

The drivers are not the only ones who are getting used to the new cars, the safety crews are learning how to attach the cars to the trucks for towing.

Winds are a big issue for the teams today with gusts blowing up to 35 miles per hour.

The track surface is very abrasive causing tires to fall off and lose grip very quickly. Earlier in the week, track officials did some grinding on the track to try and smooth it out a bit.

Christopher Bell spins out with a flat tire just as the Group A practice session comes to an end. He noted that the cars are difficult to drive, but he is having a good time and is excited to run the race.

Group B takes to the track for practice.

Bubba Wallace spins after getting loose.. Bubba takes his Wheaties car to pit road. The team is working on the car but are not sure it will be ready in time for qualifying.

Group B practice has completed.

NASCAR has announced that once a driver takes his car to the garage after practice, they will not be allowed to make a qualifying run. Any changes to the car would be seen as making unapproved adjustments and sending the driver to the back of the field to start the race. Any adjustments and repairs must be made from pit road only and are very limited.

After Ross Chastain has decided not to make a qualifying run, Denny Hamlin is the first driver from Group A to take the track to qualify. He ran a time of 41.566 seconds around the two mile track.

Kevin Harvick did not make a qualifying run.

Joey Logano tops the list of the Group A drivers with a time of 41.358 seconds.

Justin Haley did not make a qualifying run.

The five drivers from Group A to make a second run for the pole are Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Hemric, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch.

William Byron gets Group B qualifying started off with a time of 41.478.

Erik Jones takes the top spot with a time of 41.316 seconds.

Due to inspection issues, Kurt Busch will not qualify.

Chase Elliott takes the top with 41.177 seconds.

Aric Almirola gets loose and is sideways on the track but saves the car.

Joining Chase Elliott in the Group B in a battle for the pole are Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric, Eric Jones, and William Byron.

Kyle Busch is the first driver of the top 10 to make a run for the pole. Busch runs a lap of 41.437 seconds

Brad Keselowski spins out during his top 10 qualifying run. His car has to be taken back to pit road on the wrecker.

Joey Logano hits the wall during his qualifying run but drives the car to pit road.

Erik Jones takes the top spot with a time of 41.326 seconds.

Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric takes over the top spot with a time of 41.226 seconds.

William Byron spins out during his qualifying run and ends up in the grass with flat tire(s) and has to be towed back to pit road.

Chase Elliott is the final driver to make a run for the pole and also gets loose and spins out.

Austin Cindric earns his his Cup Series pole in his ninth Cup Series start. Cindric is the first rookie to lead the points standings in 20 years. Jimmie Johnson was the last rookie to do so.

Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth joins Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer in the broadcast booth for the race.