The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops at Auto Club Speedway's two-mile oval for the fifth race of the 2014 campaign, 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 23, 2014 at 3:16 p.m./et.
Weather: Sunny with a daytime high around 73; wind out of the WSW 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 dominate thus drivers from multicar teams have a clear advantage. Sunday should be very competitive amongst the usual favorites. Look for a driver from the RCR, Roush-Fenway, Gibbs, and Hendrick stables to take the checkers.
43 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Busch won last year’s race in L.A. and has finished in the top 10 in 11 of the past 14 races at the track. He is a great fantasy pick on Sunday.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior is off to a fantastic start to the season and finished second at Fontana last season. We recommend him in all fantasy leagues.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: It is tough not to pick the native Californian. Johnson has won four of the last 10 races at the track he considers his home oval.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski won at Vegas a couple weeks ago and cars that do well at Vegas usually find success at Fontana. He should be considered strongly.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has finished seventh or better in 13 of his 16 Cup starts at Fontana. He won the February 2008 race at the track and is one of our favorites to win again this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won the 2010 spring race for his third career win at the track. He should finish in the top 10 again this weekend, but we don't see him notching another win in the Sunshine State.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon leads all active drivers with eight career wins in the state of California. He is a great choice.
No. 4 Kevin Harvick: Harvick won at Fontana in 2011 and is ready for a win this season. Use him in most leagues.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has been a top 11 driver in 14 of the past 15 races atACS. He will be fast again.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has been great at Fontana during his career. He has 10 top 10 finishes, including a win, in 17 career starts at the track.
11 to 20
No. 22 Joey Logano: The Penske Fords have been tough to beat early in 2014. This is a good weekend to sneak “Sliced Bread” onto your roster.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart won the 2012 race at Fontana as well as the 2010 race at the track. He needs to be “Smoking” again this week.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin has four top 10 finishes in 13 career starts at Fontana. He is a great second driver on most fantasy teams this weekend.
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch has averaged a 13th place finish at Fontana the past nine season. He is a great choice this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has had just one finish worse than 20th in 13 career starts at Fontana. He is a great third driver on any fantasy team this weekend.
No. 3 Austin Dillion: The talented rookie continues to impress. He is worth having active at Fontana’s less than challenging configuration.
No. 55 Brian Vickers: Vickers has been awesome at Fontana during his career. This is a great weekend to sneak the veteran onto your roster.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has been decent at Fontana during Nationwide visits to the track and looked terrific last weekend at Bristol. He is worth using.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex is a good bet to crack the 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. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray has five top 10 finishes in 18 career starts at Fontana, but he hasn't cracked the top 10 in the past 12 races at the track. His lack of recent success in his home-state bumps him out of our top 20.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has been a top 20 driver so far this year. He is worth using in most leagues.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has cracked the top 27 in nine of his 11 career starts at Fontana. He is off to a decent start this year and shouldn’t have a problem cracking the top 25 once again.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson will continue to earn the yellow stripe on his bumper this season. We can’t recommend him as anything but as a roster filler.
No. 35 David Reutimann: Rudy has been fast in four of the past eight trips to Fontana. He is a decent sleeper pick this weekend.
No. 47 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. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has struggled to crack the top 20 at Fontana during 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. 23 Alex Bowman: Poor Bowman is now more known for toilet paper than his driving.
No. 34 David Ragan
No. 36 Reed Sorenson
No. 51 Justin Allgaier
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 32 Travis Kvapil
No. 83 Ryan Truex
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 7 Michael Annett
No. 30 Parker Kligerman
No. 66 Joe Nemechek
No. 98 Josh Wise
No. 33 Brian Scott
No. 26 Cole Whitt
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Kyle Busch
B. Brad Keselowski
B. Carl Edwards
C. Kyle Larson