The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wraps up its West Coast swing this weekend with a trip to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 will be the first of three races at 2-mile ovals, and like its sister speedway, Michigan, Auto Club is a momentum track with a wide surface and multiple grooves.
While the wide surface can lead to longer green flags stretches, it hasn’t necessarily made passing easier, especially later in runs. However, the new rules package could change that. If the draft plays a bigger factor, Auto Club is one track where drivers could complete passes with a slingshot maneuver. It could also make restarts even crazier than normal. Whether or not that leads to more wrecks remains to be seen.
From a fantasy standpoint, I’m going to continue to trust the big names from the top teams. Yes, we have seen some outliers with the new rules, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chris Buescher for example, but it’s been business as usual for the most part so far in 2019. Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are still fast, and I don’t see that changing Sunday.
1. Kyle Busch, #18 M&M’s, Joe Gibbs Racing
He notched his first win of 2019 last weekend at Phoenix, and Busch has posted an impressive 3.0 average finish over the first four races of the year. He led 62 laps and finished third at Auto Club last year, and he has finished in the Top 3 in five of his last seven starts here, picking up a couple of wins.
2. Martin Truex, Jr., #19 Bass Pro Shops, Joe Gibbs Racing
Coming off a career-best finish at Phoenix, it’s safe to say Truex is feeling at home with Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s also felt at home at Auto Club in recent years. Truex has led 20-plus laps in the last three races here, leading 73 laps and finishing fourth in 2017 and leading a race-high 125 laps on his way to the win in last year’s race.
3. Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite/Discount Tires, Team Penske
A sway bar issue derailed his fast start to the year, but Keselowski should get back on track Sunday. He has a 4.0 average finish in the last four races at Auto Club, logging a win and three Top 5s in that stretch. Pencil him in for another strong finish.
4. Kevin Harvick, #4 Jimmy Johns/Busch Beer, Stewart-Haas Racing
Harvick got tangled with Kyle Larson at Auto Club last year, but he has a pair of runner-up finishes in his last four starts here, leading a race-high 142 laps in 2016. He is also tied for the series lead with six Top 5s in the last 10 races at 2-mile ovals, leading the second-most laps in that stretch.
5. Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Team Penske
He’s been rolling along at Auto Club, finishing seventh or better in the last four races here and posting three straight Top 5s. Logano also leads all drivers with nine Top 10s in the last 10 races at 2-mile tracks. He should be a reliable option in all formats this weekend.