The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops at Auto Club Speedway's two-mile oval for the fifth race of the 2013 season, the Auto Club 400. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 3:00 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a daytime high around 73; wind out of the SW at 9 mph. There is a zero percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Auto ClubSpeedway
ACSis a two-mile long D-shaped oval. It has intermediate (14 degree) banking on the corners which allows for drivers to run their cars nearly wide-open the entire way around the track.
Key to Race: RUN WITH THE BIG DOGS OR GO HOME
This is a race that is usually won or lost in the wind tunnel. The cars with the top aerodynamic packages will generally dominate and drivers from multicar teams have a clear advantage. Sunday should be very competitive amongst the usual favorites. Look for a driver from RCR, Roush-Fenway, Gibbs, and Hendrick to take the checkers.
43 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won last year’s race at Fontana as well as the 2010 race at the track. He will be Smoking again this week.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: It is tough not to pick the native Californian. Johnson has won four of the last nine races at the track he considers his home oval.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won the 2010 spring race for his third career win at the track. He should finish in the top five again this weekend, but we don't see him notching another win in the Sunshine State.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has finished seventh or better in 12 of his 15 Cup starts at Fontana. He won the February 2008 race at the track and is one of our favorites to win again this weekend.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior is off to the best start of his career and finished third at Fontana last season. We recommend him in most fantasy leagues.
6 to 10
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon leads all active drivers with eight career wins in the state of California. He is a great choice.
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the past 13 races at Fontana. He is a great fantasy pick on Sunday.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick won at Fontana in 2011 and is ready to break-out this season. Use him in most leagues.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been a top 11 driver in 13 of the past 14 races atACS. He will be fast again.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has been great at Fontana during his career. He has nine top 10 finishes, including a win, in 16 career starts at the track.
11 to 20
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has cracked the top 20 just one time at Fontana in his career. He averaged a 12th place finish in five career Nationwide Series starts at the track so he will have no problem being competitive this weekend.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has four top 10 finishes in 12 career starts at Fontana. He is a great second driver on most fantasy teams this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has never finished worse than 20th in 12 career starts at Fontana. He is a great third driver on any fantasy team this weekend.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has 10 top 10 finishes in 21 career starts at Fontana. This is a great weekend to sneak the wily veteran onto your roster.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has run well in eight of the past 11 races at Fontana. He is a great pick to crack the top 20.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has been decent at Fontana during Nationwide visits to the track. He is worth using.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano has top 15 finishes in three of his four trips to Fontana. This is a good weekend to sneak “Sliced Bread” onto your roster.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex looked great in four of the past nine races at Fontana. He is a good bet to crack the top 20.
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch has been strong atACSduring his career and with his solid start to the 2013 campaign we like his odds to notch another top 20.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has defined average in nearly all of his 13 career starts at Fontana. This is a good weekend to pass on the Purdue Boilermaker.
21 to 30
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has cracked the top 27 in eight of his 10 career starts at Fontana. He is off to a great start this year and shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 25 once again.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has been a pleasant surprise this year. He is worth using in most leagues.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has averaged just a 19th place finish at Fontana. He will just miss the top 15 this trip to California.
No. 83 David Reutimann: Rudy has been fast in four of the past seven trips to Fontana. He is a decent sleeper pick this weekend.
No. 51 A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger has had mixed results at Fontana during his career. He is a little too risky of a choice for our blood.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has five top 10 finishes in 17 career starts at Fontana, but he hasn't cracked the top 10 in the past 11 races at the track. His lack of recent success in his home-state bumps him out of our top 20.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has struggled to crack the top 20 atACSduring his career. We won’t have enough speed to be anything but a fourth driver in fantasy leagues this weekend.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Patrick isn’t much of an option this visit to California.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has been very average at Fontana. He is only worth using for those of you in the deepest leagues.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte has cracked the top 30 in nine of the past 11 races at Fontana. We expect he will struggle to have another top 30 finishes this weekend.
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 33 Landon Cassill
No. 7 Dave Blaney
No. 36 J.J. Yeley
No. 44 Scott Riggs
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 32 Timmy Hill
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 35 Josh Wise
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Tony Stewart
B. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
B. Mark Martin
C. David Reutimann