The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes it annual visit to Auto Club Speedway this weekend as the three-race West Coast swing comes to a close. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 will also be the first of three races at 2-mile ovals this season, which means this will be the first time we get to see the new rules package in action at this type of track.
While the new rules haven’t changed the action on the track too much so far, I do think a track like Auto Club could see more of an impact. With its long straightaways and wide surface, maintaining momentum has always been important. Now, there is a good chance most drivers will have it on the floor for long stretches of fuel runs, which means the draft could really come into play.
Whether or not drivers will be slicing through the field with slingshot maneuvers remains to be seen, but depending on what we see in practice and qualifying, this may be a race where one-dominator lineups are the way to go at Fanduel. If a bunch of the top drivers end up starting deeper in the field, I’ll definitely lean towards this strategy.
Make sure to check back for updated driver picks and lineup strategies after the starting lineup for the Auto Club 400 is officially set. In the meantime, here is a closer look at the drivers who stood out to be me as potentially great plays at Fanduel this weekend.
Kyle Busch ($14,800)
Busch has been the best driver in the series to start the season, and he brings a 3.0 average finish into Auto Club. He led 62 laps and finished third here last year, and Busch went on to finish fourth or better in all three races at 2-mile tracks in 2018. Expect him to be in the mix for the win again this weekend.
Kevin Harvick ($14,500)
He crashed out at Auto Club last, but he rebounded to finish second and first in the two races at Michigan, leading more laps than any other driver at 2-mile tracks in 2018. Harvick is also tied for the lead with six Top 5s over the last 10 races at 2-milers, and he had a dominating win at Auto Club in 2016.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,700)
Truex led a race-high 125 laps on his way to the win at Auto Club last year, and no driver has been spending more time out front at the 2-milers than him. His 380 laps led in the last 10 races are the most in the series, and Truex has led laps in eight races during than span, leading 50-plus in four of the last six. Don’t be surprised if he finishes as the top scorer Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($12,400)
Larson has been at his best at the 2-mile tracks, winning four of the last seven races and finishing third or better in six of the last eight. He was the runner-up at Auto Club last year, and he led 110 laps and went to victory lane here in 2017. He’s a great pivot to the obvious dominator candidates.
Chase Elliott ($10,600)
A rough start to the year has caused Elliott’s price tag to drop, but this a track where he could break out of his slump. Elliott has eight Top-10s in nine career starts at 2-mile ovals, including three runner-up finishes. Take advantage of the discounted price, especially if he starts a little deeper in the field.
Erik Jones ($9,800)
Jones is off to a fast start at the 2-milers at the Cup level. He has never finished outside the Top 15 in six starts while compiling a 10.5 average finish in those races. For less than $10,000, he’s an easy choice if he qualifies toward the middle of the pack or worse.
Austin Dillon ($7,400)
I tend to shy away from Dillon most weeks, but he’s actually been serviceable at the 2-mile tracks. He has five Top 10s in the last 10 races, including three in his last four, and he has finished 16th or better in eight of the 10 races in that span. If he starts in the back half of the field, I won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Daniel Suarez ($7,300)
Unfortunately, it appears a lack of consistency is going to remain an issue for Suarez despite the offseason move to Stewart-Haas Racing. That being said, he has shown Top 15 speed in almost every race this year, and the poor finishes have dropped his salary quite a bit. This is an inviting price for a driver capable of delivering a Top 10.
Chris Buescher ($6,500)
Buescher hasn’t had much success at the 2-mile tracks up to this point, but he’s off to a solid start in 2019, finishing 18th or better in all three races since Daytona. If he continues his trend of qualifying outside the Top 20, Buescher could once again be one of the best sources of cap relief.
Bubba Wallace ($4,500)
It has been a horrible start to the year for Wallace, but he’s been a mid-pack performer at the 2-mile tracks, compiling a 20.2 average finish in four starts. If he starts outside the Top 25, I’ll take a chance on him in exchange for a bunch of cap space.