Creature vs. Creature: Auto Club 500 NASCAR Picks

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 20, 2009

Each week, seven our our beloved B/R NASCAR writers discuss their picks for the upcoming race. Each week, the writer receives the total number of Sprint Cup points their selected driver gets.

At the end of the 26-race regular season, writers will receive 10 bonus points for each win they had during the season and the Chase field will be set just as the Cup stars do it.

This week our esteemed panel of writers was on the same page with three drivers receiving two picks each. Here is a look at this week's picks.


me.jpgBen Bomberger

This week's pick: Kyle Busch—Let's face it, Busch seems to be good everywhere and in everything that he drives. At Cali he has one win, three top-fives, seven top-10s and one pole. His average finish is 9.9 and he has an average running position of 9.4 (third-best).

He also boasts a driver rating of 107.6 (third-best), has run 117 of the fastest laps (fifth-most), has run 1,657 (82.6 percent) of his laps in the top-15 (third-most) and is tied for a series-high 431 quality passes (passing a driver in the top-15 under green flag conditions).

Last week: Tony Stewart (eighth)


mj.jpgMary Jo Buchanan

This week's pick: Carl Edwards—He is good at this track and I think is looking to get his race season off on the right foot. My dark horse will be Jeff Gordon.

Last week: Jeff Gordon (12th)


lj.jpgL.J. Burgess

This week's pick: Jimmie "Fontana" Johnson is the master of Fontana, he has eight top-three finishes at Fontana! I'm thinking Chad Knaus and the boys in the shop will win this race—write that in ink.

Last week: Jamie McMurray (37th)


kelly.jpgKelly Crandall

This week's pick: Greg Biffle—At the end of last year, this team really came on strong. At this race in August he had the second-best car to Jimmie Johnson and nearly pulled off the win.

Biffle had a strong run in Daytona and I look for him to continue his momentum from the end of last year to a track that he performs well on.

My initial thought was to pick Matt Kenseth, but his Daytona 500 win made me think twice. The winner of that race doesn't normally have such a great California race. And it's been 12 years since a driver has won the first two races of the year.

But I'm gonna stay in the Roush camp for California, where they will all probably have strong runs!

Last week: Kyle Busch (38th)



Adam Heasley

This week's pick: Jimmie Johnson—Hey Creature nation!! Well, I'm going to have to go with Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson. He is so good at speedways such as Michigan and Fontana.

Over the years, Johnson has three wins and eight top-fives. How can you pick against those numbers!? My dark horse is a true dark horse—David Ragan. He is in a Roush Fenway car and they have a history of doing well at California.

Last week: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (26th)


sm.jpgS.M. Napier

This week's pick: Kyle Busch—Well this week, I'm picking Kyle "Rowdy" Busch. Since 2006 in the spring race he finished no worse than 10th, he's on his game when he races in all three series like at Fontana and being close to home, he'll want to win.

Last week: Kevin Harvick (Second)


david.jpgDavid Phillips

This week's pick: Carl Edwards—With only one win and an average finish of sixth at Fontana Speedway he's my "flippin' pick."

His worst finish is 29th at the track and other than that he has never finished outside the top-six. We should see a back flip Sunday.

Last week: Mark Martin (15th)

Auto Club Speedway picks from the keyboard of L.J. Burgess:

Wild Card: Scott "Kyle Jr." Speed...this sucker can win anytime, anywhere, in anything. Top-fives or 10s at Martinsville, Kansas, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Homestead, and a win at Dover in the closest thing to a COT there is. I'll never, ever bet against this kid.

Mega lap leaders: Kyle "Fang" Busch at 12+ percent laps led is the dark horse here as is Kasey "I'm Still Here" Kahne 10+ percent and Greg "No Fenders" Biffle at 9 percent, who has dominated this track in the BGN series btw.

Jeff "Papa" Gordon: When he's hot in California, he's hot...then something happens. This will be the true season preview for the No. 24. Mixed emotions here on a "MUST WIN" situation.

David "Locked and Loaded" Ragan: In four Fontana runs he's improved his start/finish by an average of 16 spots. This kid's going to be the winner if he can put it in the top-10 on the qualifying grid. A future champion a la Matt Kenseth....a looong way from the "dart without feathers" days.

Matt "Cryin' in the Rain" Kenseth: Last eight races at Fontana, average finish of fourth or better...will Daytona momentum be his new teammate? Kenseth has got to love this track as it's been so good to him since he drove Robbie Reiser's Chevy back in the day...he's led over 10 percent of the laps he's run at Fontana and he's finished all but 22 laps at Auto Club Speedway in both his Cup and BGN career. That's impressive. Matt will cop a top-five for sure.

Carl "Don't Mess With Happy" Edwards: Throw out a 29th finish in '07 and Cousin Carl also has an average career finish of better than fourth. In both series Edwards has been a top-five runner with only two bad finishes...and he finishes what he starts on the left coast, too. Even though he's only led 220+ laps in 17 starts, he's made them count. A top-three I'm betting. But:

Jimmie 'Fontana' Johnson is the master of Fontana, he has eight top-three finishes at Fontana! I'm thinking Chad Knaus and the boys in the shop will win this race—write that in ink.



Newman, his glory days are looong past.

Harvick, too inconsistent but getting better.

Burton, see Harvick, but getting worse.

Truex, fast on Fridays but outside the top five on Sunday.

Stewart can't get a handle on this cookie cutter despite success on others.

Jamie Mac was a top runner at ACS at one time...what the hell happened?

Kurt Busch gets mixed reviews but knows how to go fast on Fridays; watch him.

 Creature Standings
 S.M. Napier 1700
 Ben Bomberger
 MJ Buchanan
 David Phillips
 Adam Heasley
 LJ Burgess
 Kelly Crandall








For more information about the six writers making picks weekly visit their B/R page by clicking on each writer's name.

Picks by the week: Shootout | 1 | 2 | 3


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