RaceDayScore NASCAR: Auto Club 400

RaceDayScore NASCAR: Auto Club 400

This article is part of our RaceDayScore NASCAR series.

Auto Club 400 
 
Location: Fontana, Calif. 
Course: Auto Club Speedway 
Format: 2-mile D-shaped oval 
Laps: 200 
 
Race Preview 
 
Kevin Harvick reasserted his Phoenix dominance last week in the Good Sam 500, and will hope that magic follows him to California this week. The Auto Club Speedway hosts the Auto Club 400 this week for the Fontana oval's only appearance on the calendar. The track is similar to Michigan International Speedway in shape but features shallower banking. The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates continue to be among the top contenders each week and that could be good news for them at this track, where all but Hamlin have won in the past. Jimmie Johnson leads the pack with five victories at the California oval, but Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth aren't far behind with three victories each. The pair will be anxious to use that experience to their favor and score a first win in 2016. 
 
Key Stats at Auto Club Speedway 
 


  • Number of previous races: 26 
  • Winners from pole: 1 
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 9 
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 14 
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7 
  • Fastest race: 160.166 mph 

 
Last 10 Fontana Winners 
 
2015 spring - Brad Keselowski 
2014 spring - Kyle Busch 
2013 spring - Kyle Busch 
2012 spring - Tony Stewart 
2011 spring - Kevin Harvick 
2010 fall - Tony Stewart 
2010 spring - Jimmie Johnson 
2009 fall - Jimmie Johnson 
2009 spring - Matt Kenseth 
2008 fall - Jimmie Johnson 

Auto Club Speedway's wide track tends to produce very exciting races with drivers able to start almost anywhere in the field and challenge for the win. In past years, the distance and frequency of yellow flag periods have turned the running into a fuel-mileage event. The long straights put strain on engines, and equipment preservation will be a factor. Horsepower to propel the car out of the turns is also important, while brakes won't be as big of a factor as they will be at the next race in Martinsville. The wide turns allow for plenty of room to pass and find an ideal groove depending on how a car is handling, and the tire issues we saw in Phoenix could crop up again this week. Equipment durability and raw power will be important determinants of success this week. 
 
RACE DAY SCORE VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $60K Salary Cap) 
 
Tier 1 Values 
 
Kyle Busch - $12,700 
Kevin Harvick - $12,100 
Carl Edwards - $11,800 
Jimmie Johnson - $11,700 
 
Tier 2 Values 
 
Joey Logano - $10,800 
Matt Kenseth - $10,400 
Denny Hamlin - $10,300 
Kasey Kahne - $10,300 
 
Tier 3 Values 
 
Aric Almirola - $9,700 
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $9,200 
Brian Vickers - $9,000 
 
Long-Shot Values 
 
David Ragan - $8,700 
Cole Whitt - $8,400 
Chris Buescher - $7,300 
 
MY PICKS THIS WEEK 

Lower-Risk Cash Game Lineup ($60K Salary Cap) 

Kyle Busch - $12,700 
Jimmie Johnson - $11,700 
Paul Menard - $10,700 
Brian Vickers - $9,000 
Cole Whitt - $8,400 
Chris Buescher - $7,300 

Not only has Kyle Busch finished inside the top five every race so far in 2016, he also has the second-highest driver rating at Auto Club Speedway heading into this week's race. Jimmie Johnson is the second selection in the lower-risk lineup and has the highest driver rating at the track. The third driver in the lineup is Menard. He has no top-10s so far in 2016, but hasn't finished worse than ninth in his last three races at this week's track. Brian Vickers substitutes for Tony Stewart again this week and has two top-10 finishes in his last two Fontana races. Finally, Cole Whitt offers fantasy players value with a low price for his prior two top-25 Fontana finishes along with Buescher who boasts a top-20 from his only Fontana visit in the Spring Cup series. 
 
Higher-Risk Tournament Lineup
($60K Salary Cap) 

Carl Edwards - $11,800 
Kurt Busch - $11,600 
Austin Dillon - $10,700 
Greg Biffle - $9,800 
David Ragan - $8,700 
Michael McDowell - $7,200 

Carl Edwards narrowly missed picking up his first win of 2016 last week in Phoenix and now heads to one of his best tracks. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won at Fontana in 2008 and hasn't finished lower than 13th in the last five races here. Kurt Busch hasn't missed a top-10 yet this season and has four consecutive top-10s at this week's track as well. Prospects for Dillon have been getting brighter by the week, and he doesn't have a terrible Fontana record either. His worst Fontana finish is 16th. Biffle won here in 2005 and should be capable of snagging at least a top-15 finish with Roush Fenway Racing's improvements this season at one of the team's best tracks. Ragan has been a consistent finisher in the top 20 here, and should improve his season's average finish, while McDowell has consistently delivered significant finish differential points to fantasy owners this season.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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