The Cup Series will travel three hours on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to Fontana, California this week. If you have ever made this trip you would know what it is like to go 180 MPHs. That is about the average speed for most cars through the desert…LOL. The cars will be wide-open around this two-mile oval this week. It should be a pretty good race. The Auto Club 400 can be seen Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.
NASCAR will have the same schedule this week that they had last week in Las Vegas. There will be two practices Friday. The first practice is at 4 p.m. ET on FS1 and final practice is at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Qualifying will be Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Our lineups need to be submitted by 8 a.m. ET Friday!
Auto Club Speedway is the track that Roger Penske built. It should be no surprise that his drivers have dominated the races in Southern California. Joe Gibbs Racing has been doing their best to make their claim as the best team in Fontana. The cream usually rises to the top in the Auto Club 400 so it would be a good idea to get the top drivers into your lineup this week.
Race Rewind at Auto Club: Auto Club 400 (2019)
Driver Group Game A Picks
Kyle Busch: Joe Gibbs Racing looked lost in Las Vegas. That will not happen this week. JGR always struggles in Sin City and they always run well at Auto Club. Busch dominated this race last year. He qualified fourth, won both Stages, led 134 of the 200 laps and went to Victory Lane. Busch has a series-best 137.4 Driver Rating and a series-high 2.0 average finishing position in the last two races in Fontana. The No. 18 car should begin its run for the 2020 championship this week.
Joey Logano: I should have started Logano last week. Well, I do not plan to make the same mistake twice. The combination of Paul Wolfe and Logano could be trouble for the field this year. They already have one win on their 2020 resume and I expect many more. On paper Brad Keselowski is a better choice this week, but the switch in crew chiefs should make Logano a better pick. He finished second to Kyle Busch last year and I expect the same two drivers to compete for the win Sunday. Logano has not finished outside the top five at Auto Club since 2015. The No. 22 car is the safest pick in the field this week.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Joey Logano 3) Martin Truex Jr. 4) Brad Keselowski 5) Kevin Harvick, 6) Chase Elliott 7) Denny Hamlin
Driver Group Game B Picks
Kyle Larson: Larson always runs well in his home state of California. He won the race at Auto Club in 2017 and he finished second in 2018 and 2014. The Chevy’s seem to have more drivability in their cars this year and that should help Larson keep the No. 42 car off the wall. This is a good race to use an allocation with Larson.
Ryan Blaney: It has been a year of bad luck for Blaney. He could have easily won the Daytona 500 and he had the car to beat with 10-laps to go in Las Vegas. He is going to get to Victory Lane soon and it could happen this week at one of Team Penske’s best tracks. Blaney has finished 5th, 8th and 9th in his last three races in Fontana. He keeps improving so the trend suggests he will finish in the top three Sunday.
Alex Bowman: Bowman did not run very well in this race last year but the No. 88 team found some speed over the summer last year that they did not have at Auto Club. Bowman finished both races at Michigan (same type of track as Auto Club) in the top 10 so he should be a good pick Sunday. I also like how he ran last week at Las Vegas. Bowman should easily finish in the top 10 if the Chevy’s show the same improvement this week with their new car.
Jimmie Johnson: How cool would it be to see Johnson win his last race at the same track he won his first race at? Johnson has always been good at his home track. The El Cajon, California native has a series-high six wins at Auto Club. The No. 48 team showed a lot of improvement during the playoffs last year and he ran really well last week in Las Vegas. I am not betting against Johnson in California.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Ryan Blaney 2) Kyle Larson 3) Alex Bowman 4) Jimmie Johnson 5) Kurt Busch 6) Erik Jones 7) Austin Dillon 8) Matt DiBenedetto 9) Aric Almirola 10) Clint Bowyer
Driver Group Game C Picks
Ross Chastain: I really thought we were going to strike gold last week with Chastain. He ran most of the race in the top 15 but had a tire go down late in the race. I expect Chastain to get another chance in the No. 6 car so I am going to give him another chance too. We really need to manage our allocations well in Group C. If Chastain can simply finish in the top 20, this will pay off. I am not sure I will start Chastain Sunday but I will have him in my lineup just in case he looks good in practice.
Cole Custer: My strategy for the races at Auto Club Speedway has always been to load my lineup with drivers from the west coast. This strategy usually pays off. I will continue to pick California drivers with Cole Custer. The Ladera Ranch, California native runs well in Fontana. Last year he outraced Kyle Busch to win the Xfinity Series race at Auto Club. He should be the top rookie in this race.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Cole Custer 2) Ross Chastain 3) Tyler Reddick 4) Christopher Bell 5) Ty Dillon
Driver Group Game Team
I will post my final picks for Driver Group Game Saturday evening.
*Stats from Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet Pro
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