The NASCAR Cup Series travels across the country this week to begin their “West Coast Swing.” The first race on the schedule is the Pala Casino 400 in Fontana, California. This will likely be the last race at the two-mile oval track at Auto Club Speedway. It will be fun to see which driver can win the last trophy at the worn out track and it will be even better if we can win some cash after the checkered flag is waived.
The strategy for the Daytona 500 was to take some chances with some long shots since even the drivers with odds greater than 25-1 had a good chance to win (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the race at 30-1 odds). That will not be the case this week.
Auto Club Speedway is a high tire-wear track. Drivers need to be able to search the track for grip and running up against the wall can be the best way to pass other drivers. There is an art to this type of driving and some drivers are better at it than others. The problem is that the sportsbooks know who these drivers are and they are listed at the top of the board this week. It is going to be tougher to hit on a long shot this week, but I still think there is some good value listed that we could take a chance with Sunday.
DRAFTKINGS ODDS FOR AUTO CLUB
* The odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook. The odds could change between the time of this article and the time you place your bet.
** The first number is the amount of money based on the second number (the amount of the wager). So if you bet $1 on Kyle Larson at 6-1 odds, you will win $6.
Here are my “Best Bets” for the Pala Casino 400…
KYLE LARSON (6-1): I really do not like betting the favorites but it is hard to ignore “Yung Money” in his home state. I crunched the numbers 10 different ways, talked to people in the garage and all of the statistics and the info I received points to Larson winning Sunday. I will bet Larson as my “insurance policy” this week. I will hope one of my drivers with longer odds wins the race, but at least I will get some cash back if the oddsmakers and the statistics are right Sunday and the No. 5 car is in Victory Lane again at Auto Club Speedway.
KYLE BUSCH (10-1): I recommend shopping around to see if you can find longer odds than 10-1. Busch has not won a race on a paved track since his win at Pocono in 2021. This is a new year and a new Rowdy Busch. The No. 8 car dominated this race last year. That has to have Busch motivated this weekend. Busch finished three of his last four races at Auto Club Speedway in the top-three. That includes a win in 2019. He nearly won the Clash at the Coliseum, had a good chance to win the Daytona 500 and now he should have another fast car in Fontana.
JOEY LOGANO (12-1): I was surprised to see six drivers listed with shorter odds than Logano this week. The No. 22 car should be co-favorites with the No. 5 car this week. Logano has been on a hot streak for a while. He won at Las Vegas last October in the playoffs and that put him into the championship race. Logano then won the championship race at Phoenix. He also finished second last Sunday in the Daytona 500. Logano has finished first or second in his last three meaningful races he has competed in (the races at Homestead and Martinsville did not mean a lot to the No. 22 team since they were already locked into the championship four). Logano also finished fifth at Auto Club Speedway last year. 12-1 odds are pretty good on a driver with the momentum that Logano has right now.
TYLER REDDICK (12-1): Did the oddsmakers watch the race at Auto Club Speedway last year? The only thing stopping Reddick from leading every lap in the race was a blown tire. Reddick led 90 laps, won both Stages, but had a tire go down and it ruined his race. It is tough to beat Reddick at tracks were riding up against the wall and searching the track for grip is a requirement. I am not worried about the switch from Chevy to Toyota this week for Reddick. I will take a chance with Reddick at his home track.
ALEX BOWMAN (18-1): What if I gave you 18-1 odds on a driver who led 110 laps, scored 19 Stage Points and won the race in 2020 at Auto Club Speedway. Would you take it? Bowman then came back last year (the Cup Series did not compete at Auto Club in 2021) and ran the fifth-fastest lap in practice and was running third when he had a tire go down and he hit the wall. Bowman had a car fast enough to contended for the win at Auto Club last year. Instead, he won the next week at a similar track in Las Vegas. I like the Chevy’s this week so I will bet the No. 48 car shows up with a lot of speed and has a chance to win the race Sunday.
LONG SHOT SPECIAL: My Long-Shot Special this week is ERIK JONES (30-1): Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won last week at 30-1 odds and now it is Jones’ turn to find Victory Lane at 30-1 odds. Jones was awesome in this race last year and the other races where the track wears out tires quickly. He won the race at Darlington and nearly won the race at Auto Club. Jones led 18 laps, finished both Stages in second-place, had the best Driver Rating in the field (122.7) and the No. 43 car finished third. He ranked as the third-best driver on similar tracks last year. Getting Jones at 30-1 odds seems like a great bet to me.
Good luck this week!
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