The Fantasy NASCAR season is off and running. So did you survive Daytona? If so, congratulations. If not, do not panic. There are 35 races left to get you to the top of your league standings. There have been numerous seasons when my picks finished last in the Daytona 500 and first at the end of the Championship Race in Phoenix. The races become more predictable now that The Great American Race is behind us.
The Cup and Xfinity Series will travel across the country to start the “West Coast Swing.” The first race is at Auto Club Speedway. Most teams in the garage often say, “This is when the real season starts.” We still did not know which teams have the speed in 2023, but we should get a better idea after the race Sunday.
AUTO CLUB SCHEDULE
The Truck Series will take the week off, so we will only have the Xfinity and Cup Series racing at Auto Club Speedway. The schedule is condensed, so we will have a very busy day Saturday. Here is the schedule for the races at Auto Club Speedway…
FANTASY PICKS SCHEDULE
Speedweeks is complete and now we will have a regular schedule for the fantasy picks. The schedule this week will look similar to what they will be throughout the season. Here is what you can expect this week…
AUTO CLUB STRATEGY
The new Gen-7 car and the Goodyear tires were the story of the race last year at Auto Club Speedway. The drivers did not understand how close to the edge they could driver the Gen-7 car and Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace all spun out when they went over the edge and couldn’t control their cars. Tyler Reddick completely dominated the race, but he had a tire go down and he hit the wall. Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. also had tire problems.
Here are the top-five drivers from the race at Auto Club last year….
- Tyler Reddick (Led 90 laps and scored 20 Stage Points)
- Kyle Larson (Led 28 laps, scored 12 Stage Points, won the race)
- Erik Jones (Led 18 laps, scored 19 Stage Points, finished 3rd)
- Joey Logano (Led 14 laps, scored 12 Stage Points, finished 5th)
- Ryan Blaney (Scored 10 Stage Points, had 2nd-best avg running position, passed the most cars in the race)
You can watch the extended highlights of last year’s race at Auto Club in the NASCAR Race Rewind
FANTASY STATS FOR AUTO CLUB
The races at Auto Club Speedway are tough to predict because it is the second race on the schedule and the first race where downforce comes into play. We do not know which teams gained speed in the offseason and which teams will lack speed to start the year. All we can do is look at the stats and see which drivers have a history of running well at Auto Club, the two-mile over tracks and other intermediate tracks.
Auto Club Speedway is a large, high tire wear track similar to Michigan, Darlington and Homestead. Here are the stats from the races at similar tracks to Auto Club in 2022…
The last race at Auto Club Speedway was a long time ago. The teams have a lot more data and the drivers understand how close to the edge they can drive the Gen-7 car now. I like to look at the driver rankings from the intermediate tracks in the playoffs last year to see which teams ended the season with the most speed in races similar to Auto Club.
Here are the stats from the races at Darlington, Kansas, Las Vegas and Homestead in the playoffs last year (I am not including Texas, because that track is totally different from Auto Club)…
FINAL THOUGHTS FOR AUTO CLUB
The Chevy’s finished in the top-four positions in this race last year and took seven out of the top-10 positions. Denny Hamlin said on his Actions Detrimental podcast that he expects the Chevy’s to have an advantage at the intermediate tracks because their cars have the best balance of downforce and reduced-drag. Hamlin was right when he said the Fords would be the best at the Superspeedways and I think he is right about the Chevy’s this week.
I do not recommend loading your fantasy lineups with all Chevy’s at Auto Club Speedway though. We really do not know what the Toyota’s and Fords have for the race. I plan to diversify my lineups for the Driver Group Game since our team needs to be submitted before practice or qualifying. I will mix in the top Chevy’s, Fords and Toyotas based on the stats list above. I will base my picks in other games (Fantasy Live, One & Done contests and DFS lineups) mainly off of practice speeds, qualifying position and the stats.
Good luck this week!
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