Early Week Driver Rankings for Auto Club


The first race of the 2023 season is in the books and congratulations to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for winning The Great American Race and punching his ticket to the playoffs (If there are not more than 16 winners in 2023). Now the Xfinity Series and Cup Series will travel across the country to race on the 2-mile oval track at Auto Club Speedway for the final time. This race typically puts on a good show and I expect the same Sunday. This will be the first of three races on the “West Coast Swing.”

The races at Auto Club Speedway are usually hard to predict. It is not because there are many wrecks or cautions in this race… It is because the race at Auto Club is the second race on the schedule and we do not know which teams made improvements over the offseason and which may have lost some speed. There are some teams who have a history of performing well on the 2-mile ovals and that is who I have ranked the highest in my early week rankings.

I used the Driver Rating from the two races on two-mile ovals last year (Auto Club and Michigan), the Driver Rating from the last three races at Auto Club, the Driver Rating from the similar tracks to Auto Club (Michigan, Homestead and Darlington), and the Las Vegas odds to determine the rankings this week. But that is not all….

Denny Hamlin said on his “Actions Detrimental” podcast that NASCAR knew the cars were not equal last year. NASCAR allowed each manufacturer to submit a new front end of their cars to race this year. Based on the approval of each change to the car, Hamlin thinks the Fords would have the advantage in speed on the Superspeedways (He was right) and the Chevy’s would have the advantage at the intermediate tracks. He said the Fords had less drag to make them faster on the Superspeedways. The Toyota’s had speed but did not handle as well as the other manufacturers. The Chevy’s had the best balance of speed and handling to make them fast at the intermediate tracks. I took what Hamlin said into consideration and gave the Chevy’s a slight bump in the rankings this week. The Chevy’s finished in the top-four positions at Auto Club Speedway last year.

Here are my early week driver rankings for the Pala Casino 400

1. Kyle Larson
2. Joey Logano
3. Tyler Reddick
4. Denny Hamlin
5. William Byron
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ross Chastain
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Erik Jones
11. Daniel Suarez
12. Alex Bowman
13. Bubba Wallace
14. Kevin Harvick
15. Christopher Bell
16. Chase Elliott
17. Austin Dillon
18. Aric Almirola
19. Chase Briscoe
20. Austin Cindric
21. Brad Keselowski
22. Ty Gibbs
23. AJ Allmendinger
24. Chris Buescher
25. Ryan Preece
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
27. Justin Haley
28. Noah Gragson
29. Harrison Burton
30. Michael McDowell
31. Todd Gilliland
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Ty Dillon
34. B.J. McLoed
35. Cody Ware
36. J.J. Yeley


The updated rankings will be posted Saturday after qualifying.


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