NASCAR heads to Auto Club Speedway this weekend for the Auto Club 400. The two-mile track out in Fontana, Ca. marks the third and final stop on the sport’s West Coast swing.
The factors that go into building a winning fantasy team at an intermediate track are much different than those at a superspeedway or short track.
First off, it is important to find at least one dominator, a driver who leads a chunk of laps and records the most “fastest laps” in a given race. DraftKings awards .25 points per lap led and .5 points per fastest lap. That one selection could give you a huge advantage over the rest of the fantasy field.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for this weekend’s Auto Club 400.
ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up
Kevin Harvick ($11,500)
Auto Club: 24 starts, one win, six top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 15.0
Harvick is looking to become the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win four consecutive races. He has been the driver to beat so far this season and with how hot this team has been, there’s no reason for that to change come at Fontana. The salary may be expensive but he is worth it. Keep in mind Harvick has two runner-up finishes in the last three races here and has replaced Martin Truex Jr. atop the list of favorites at cookie-cutter ovals.
Kyle Busch ($10,300)
Auto Club: 19 starts, three wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 10.8
Busch dominated at ISM Raceway last weekend but came up one spot short at the end. The runner-up finish was his second in a row, both winding up just behind Harvick. He has been the best non-Ford driver through four events this season.
Can that momentum translate into one of his favorite tracks? Busch has won two of the last four races at Auto Club and should be in position to add another on Sunday.
Kyle Larson ($10,000)
Auto Club: Four starts, one win, two top fives, two top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 17.0
Larson started on the pole here last season and led 110 of 202 laps en route to his first win of 2017. He has mastered this track, earning two top-two finishes in his first four career Cup starts.
The driver of the No. 42 car led 54 laps in the early portion of last weekend’s race but fell off towards the middle. He has been one of the only Chevrolet drivers to be competitive on a weekly basis. At $10,000, he could be a good pivot off Harvick.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,000 – $9,400
Joey Logano ($9,400)
Auto Club: 11 starts, four top fives, five top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 14.8
It is still early, but so far it looks as though Logano has bounced back from his disappointing 2017 season. Through four races in 2018, he has three top-10 finishes. In each of those three events, he also led at least one lap.
Though Logano has not won at Auto Club, he has been a contender. In the last five races, he has three top-five finishes. Expect the No. 22 Ford to run at or near the front most of the race Sunday.
Kurt Busch ($8,600)
Auto Club: 24 starts, one win, seven top fives, 12 top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 12.8
The past two races at Auto Club have not been favorable for the 2004 Cup champion. Busch has a 24th-place result in 2017 and a 30th-place finish the year before that. But if you look past recent history, you will find a chain of success. Busch had three top-five performances from 2013 to 2015. In 2015, he finished third and led 65 laps.
Busch is part of a surging Stewart-Haas Racing organization. He has been a front-runner in each of the four races run so far, and he’s shown speed enough to win.
Clint Bowyer ($8,000)
Auto Club: 17 starts, three top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish at Auto Club: 13.6
Bowyer finished third at Atlanta and sixth at Phoenix last weekend. With how dominant his SHR teammate Harvick has been, Bowyer has gone under the radar. The No. 14 team is consistently bringing top 10 equipment to the track, making him an underdog candidate this week.
The driver of the No. 14 car finished third at Auto Club in 2017, the first season with SHR.
BARGAIN TIER: $7,900 and below
Austin Dillon ($7,400)
Auto Club: Four starts, two top 15s
Average finish at Auto Club: 15.5
The Daytona 500 winner has been a weekly top-15 driver in 2018. Dillon has also recorded positive position differential points in all four races. With a low price tag, he will be a great option for the back of a fantasy lineup.
Dillon has two 11th-place finishes in four career races at Auto Club. With exception of 2016, when Dillon won the pole, he has finished equal or better than his starting position in every career race at Fontana.
Daniel Suarez ($7,000)
Auto Club: One start, one top 10
Average finish at Auto Club: 7.0
Suarez being priced at $7,000 is surprising. He is coming off an eighth-place finish at Phoenix, his best of the season. Auto Club was also one of his best tracks during his 2017 rookie year. He started 10th, finished seventh and ran as high as third.
Suarez is priced alongside drivers in far less superior equipment. He should be a no-brainer this weekend.
Pre-Qualifying Optimal Lineup Example: