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Brad Keselowski
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NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Auto Club 400 Cheat Sheet

by Dan Beaver

Welcome to Auto Club Speedway where last year we predicted the drivers’ finishes to within 4.81 spots of their actual finish. It turned out to be one of our better prognostications of the season – and there were a couple of reasons for that.

First, this is a track that rewards consistency. The corners are wide and drivers can usually find a groove that is not overly crowded by the competition. Once they catch another car, it is not too difficult to get past.

Secondly, we had all the data from Michigan International Speedway to bolster our opinions. These two tracks are similar enough that drivers who excel on one often do so on the other as well. A quick look back at the past two years shows a winning streak for Kyle Larson in 2017 at Auto Club and Michigan, three consecutive top-fives last year for Kyle Busch, and top-10 sweeps for the Team Penske troika of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney.

Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, and Aric Almirola swept the top 15 on these two tracks. Chase Elliott missed that distinction by one spot with a 16th in last year’s Auto Club 400.


1. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski is the only driver this year with a four-race, top-10 streak going at Auto Club. He won this race in 2015 and finished second in 2017.

2. Kyle Busch
In the past three seasons, Busch has radically improved on two-mile tracks. He failed to crack the top 15 in 2016, swept the top 10 in 2017 and swept the top five last year.

3. Joey Logano
Logano should be a solid pick to finish in the top five this week. He's been consistently that strong for the last three years at Auto Club.

4. Kyle Larson
If he can shake the bad memory of last year's Michigan attempts, Larson could return to his 2014 form when he swept Victory Lane on the two-mile tracks.

5. Ryan Blaney
With Penske power under the hood last year, Blaney swept the top 10 on two-mile tracks. His best result was a fifth in the Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan.

6. Kevin Harvick
If rain had held off a little longer in last year's Firekeepers Casino 400, Harvick might very well have swept Victory Lane on the sister track of Michigan.

7. Chase Elliott
This will be a good test for Hendrick Motorsports. Elliott has finished worse than 10th only once on two-mile tracks and that was in last year's edition of this race.

8. Denny Hamlin
In three starts on two-mile tracks last year, Hamlin was very consistent with results ranging from a sixth at Auto Club to a 12th at Michigan.

9. Kurt Busch
With a sweep of the top 10 this year on unrestricted tracks, Busch is outperforming our predictions on a regular basis. Look for another result on the cusp of 10th.

10. Aric Almirola
Almirola has been consistent and strong on two-milers with results of seventh through 12th in his last four races. He is a great addition to rosters when he fits the right salary cap niche.

11. Erik Jones
Depending on how you want to use him, Jones could be a good value or a disappointment. He's swept the top 15 on two-mile tracks, but has only one top-five.

12. Martin Truex Jr.
When Truex won this race last year, it was the culmination of a four-race streak in which he finished sixth or better on two-milers. His last two efforts at Michigan ended outside the top 10.

13. Clint Bowyer
In a rain-shortened race last year, Bowyer held off a charging Harvick to win. His other two starts on two-mile tracks ended just outside the top 10, however.

14. Paul Menard
Menard swept the top 20 on two-mile tracks last year and even had a top-five in the FireKeepers Casino 400.

15. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson performed well enough last week at Phoenix that he garners a little more interest this week on a track where he finished ninth in 2018.

16. Austin Dillon
Auto Club is Dillon's third-best track in terms of average finishes. He's almost as strong at Michigan and should be watched closely. The No. 3 could be one of this week's top dark horses.

17. Alex Bowman
Bowman should be fairly easy to handicap this week since he finished in the teens in all three of last year's races on two-mile tracks.

18. William Byron
Hendrick Motorsports has a long history of success on two-mile tracks, but the new roster of drivers is still developing their distinct reputations.

19. Daniel Suarez
In six races on two-mile tracks, Suarez has bookends of top-15s with a seventh at Auto Club in 2017 and a 11th at Michigan last fall. In between, he's failed to crack the top 20 on this course type.

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse will be tempting this week, but it will pay to note that he has finished better than 18th only once in the last two years on two-mile tracks.

21. Ryan Newman
It was a relief to see Newman racing in the front fourth of the field last week in Phoenix because we keep waiting for this team to turnaround.

22. Chris Buescher
Buescher has been a solid value on a couple of occasions this year already and with a surprise sixth-place finish in the 2017 Pure Michigan 400, he could excel on this two-mile track.

23. Daniel Hemric
At times, Hemric has looked much stronger during races than he ultimately finishes. Still, with three results of 18th through 23rd in the last three weeks, he's been good enough.

24. Bubba Wallace
Auto Club and Michigan are among Wallace's better tracks. As a rookie last year, he scored two top-20s and a 23rd.

25. Ty Dillon
Dillon was very strong on the two-milers in 2017 with results of 18th through 21st. Last year he missed the top 25 in two of three races.

26. Michael McDowell
One simply doesn't get much more consistent than this: In his last four attempts on two-mile tracks, McDowell has finished between 25th and 27th.

27. Matt Tifft
With his first top-20, Tifft was only two positions behind his principle rookie rival at Phoenix. Things may be heading in the right direction.

28. Matt DiBenedetto
We have not been very successful handicapping DiBenedetto based on the recent performances of the No. 95, so we will revert to how he's run on various track types. On two-milers, he has a two-year average of 29th.

29. David Ragan
Ragan was inconsistent on two-mile tracks last year with a 25th at Auto Club and a 27th in the summer Michigan race. He crashed early in Michigan and finished 38th, however.

30. Ross Chastain
In his first two starts on this track type last year, Chastain finished 29th in the Auto Club 400 and was 26th in the Firekeepers Casino 400.

31. Landon Cassill
If Cassill qualifies at the very back of the pack, he could climb to about 30th and earn some place-differential points in games that offer them.

32. Ryan Preece
Preece showed a lot of promise at Daytona, but trouble seems to find him on the unrestricted tracks and that makes him a questionable value.

33. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie missed last year's Auto Club 400, but he was in sight of a top-25 in the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan in the spring.

34. BJ McLeod
McLeod was in both Michigan races last year and he finished 37th in the spring and 31st in the summer. He could be a decent value among bargain-basement picks.

35. Cody Ware
Last week in Phoenix, Ware scored his best finish of the season with a 32nd in the TicketGuardian 500k.

36. Reed Sorenson
Sorenson has been in the last two Auto Club 400s and finished 34th both times. He was 36th two weeks ago at Las Vegas.

37. Joey Gase
Gase's last start at the Cup level ended in a 38th-place finish in the Pennzoil 400. He will probably move up through the grid only by attrition.

 

Driver

Average Difference

Times Within 3

 

 

 

Austin Dillon

1.8

3

Denny Hamlin

2.5

3

Ryan Newman

4.0

2

Kyle Busch

4.0

2

Landon Cassill

4.0

2

Matt DiBenedetto

4.3

2

Daniel Suarez

4.5

1

Matt Tifft

4.8

3

David Ragan

4.8

2

Daniel Hemric

5.0

2

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

5.0

1

Clint Bowyer

5.0

1

Jimmie Johnson

5.0

1

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.