California dreamin’, on such a winter’s day.
The NASCAR Cup Series teams don’t have to dream, as they are in Fontana, Calif. this week for the Auto Club 400. The race will air on Sunday, March 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Temperatures at Auto Club Speedway on race day will definitely feel like winter (at least in SoCal) and for the third straight week there’s a chance of rain.
Not only do the drivers and teams have the weather on their minds, but they also are thinking about the track’s surface. The 2-mile, D-shaped oval has many bumps and its aging asphalt is usually abrasive on tires. However, late in final practice the FOX broadcast team noticed there wasn’t as much tire wear on the long runs as they initially thought. With this information and the possible threat of rain, different strategies may come into play during Sunday’s race.
While you take note of possible race results, also keep in mind the track’s recent history. In each of the past four events at ACS there have been either one or two dominators where one has led over 100 laps. Additionally, that same driver won or finished second in all four races.
Even though track temps will be lower on Sunday than they were Friday afternoon, you can still look at the practice results to see if any driver has a strong car. Combine this information with track history and Saturday’s qualifying results to help you create your lineup.
Before I continue on with my DraftKings picks, I will share the scores from last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
|$5,400.00||John Hunter Nemechek||26|
Alex Bowman almost caught up with Ryan Blaney in the closing laps, until they pitted under caution. There were too many cars between them in the final two laps to make up positions. John Hunter Nemechek was also looking like a good play, until he was caught up in a wreck.
It wasn’t all bad, however, as Joey Logano took the victory. This lineup won $2.50 in the $1 large Happy Hour tournament and $2 in the double-up contest.
New this season
Frontstretch has a new DraftKings league for the 2020 Cup Series season! Here are the rules:
- Anyone may join
- One entry per week. If there are multiple contests open, you may only enter one.
- At the end of the season, the top three players will win a prize.
- Note: you need to enter the contest that’s open in order to score points in the league. If it has Daytona on it, still enter!
- I will be keeping track of all the scores in a sheet, since the league leaderboard on DraftKings doesn’t total everyone’s score.
Feel free to join at this link:
Kyle Larson ($9,600)
Career at Fontana: 6 starts, 1 win, 3 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 13.7
Larson won this race from the pole in 2017 and led 110 laps. He also finished second the following year. Though last season wasn’t as strong a result as he would have liked, he still finished 12th. In addition the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing driver has some good outcomes at Michigan International Speedway. He was third in the second event there and won three races from 2016-2017.
Larson showed he has some speed for this weekend as he posted the seventh-fastest 10-lap average in final practice. While he has yet to lead a lap this year, he has two top 10s. It’s only a matter of time until those turn into top fives and victories.
Ryan Blaney ($9,400)
Career at Fontana: 4 starts, 0 wins, 1 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 14.2
After crashing out of his first Fontana race, Blaney has earned three straight top 10s. Last season he led two laps en route to a fifth-place finish. He also posted 13 fastest laps in that event. This year the man is on a mission as he has contended for the lead at both Daytona International Speedway and Las Vegas. Though it may not have been the hoped-for result for Blaney last week, he still scored 43 DraftKings points. His practice speeds indicate he has another fast hot rod this week as he had the fourth-quickest 10-lap average.
Alex Bowman ($8,800)
Career at Fontana: 4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 22.2
Rarely do I choose Bowman at these type of tracks, but I just couldn’t resist after he topped all the charts in Friday’s practices. Last week he almost caught up to Blaney before an untimely caution, and even though ACS is not his best course, he could still dominate and produce a large DraftKings score. What’s (somewhat) better is he generally doesn’t qualify as well, so he has the potential to score bonus DraftKings points if he ends the race in the top 10.
Kurt Busch ($8,600)
Career at Fontana: 26 starts, 1 win, 7 top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 12.6
Have you noticed a common theme here yet? Yep, Kurt Busch had some quick lap times during practice. He had the fourth-fastest single-lap speed and was in the top five in lap averages. And even though his first two races this season were less than desirable, Busch can still do well at Auto Club.
Larson’s CGR teammate has won here, but it was all the way back in 2003. However, he did end last year’s race in sixth place after starting 21st. Also, from 2012-2015 he had four straight top 10s; he led 65 laps in the final year of that period. The Chevrolets are starting the season fairly strong considering, and could be aggressive in Sunday’s race. Hopefully that aggression produces good results.
Tyler Reddick ($6,700)
Xfinity Series career at Fontana: 2 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 5.5
While it’s still unclear how Reddick will perform this week, he does have good finishes in the Xfinity Series here. He finished fourth last year and led 10 laps. Last week the Richard Childress Racing wheelman finished 18th after starting 25th and earned 33 DraftKings points. This week he is a bit more expensive, but he did post a top-10 average lap speed in final practice.
Dark Horse Performer
Bubba Wallace ($6,100)
Career at Fontana: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average finish at Fontana: 25.0
OK, Wallace is just here as a chance. Why Wallace? Yes, he didn’t finish well in his two prior races at ACS. However, he did end last week’s Pennzoil 400 in sixth after qualifying 27th. This high finish gave DraftKings users 59 points, which is well above his value. Also, he shot up to third on the speed chart in final practice. If he has similar results to last week’s race (and doesn’t qualify high), he will again score well.