Fantasy NASCAR Picks for Auto Club 400 at Fontana
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Fontana, Calif., for the Auto Club 400.
The race Sunday will give NASCAR teams the chance to compete on the fifth different style of racetrack this season. So far the teams have competed on a Superspeedway (Daytona), a one-mile flat racetrack (Phoenix), a mile-and-a-half racetrack (Las Vegas) and the high-banked half-mile racetrack (Bristol). Auto Club Speedway is a two-mile racetrack.
The racing at Auto Club Speedway is usually boring. The cars get so spread out that it becomes hard to pass. The teams with the best engines will dominate on Sunday. Teams from Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing will be the teams to beat.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select drivers who will start in the back of the field and have a good opportunity to move to the front. Your team will score bonus points for passing cars and finishing differential. If a driver for Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or Roush Fenway Racing qualifies poorly, select the driver for your team.
Unlike the Fantasy Live game, where fantasy players have until the drop of the green flag to select their team, people playing the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game must have their lineups selected early on Friday morning. The first practice and qualifying will begin after your team has been selected, so players will not have any data to use when selecting their team. Have no fear, I can help.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Last week I told fantasy NASCAR players to take a break from selecting Jimmie Johnson for their teams. That is not the case this week. Johnson has dominated at Auto Club Speedway and he will again on Sunday.
The backup position on your team is where fantasy NASCAR players will have to make a decision. There are many good drivers to choose from.
Tony Stewart won this race last season and has won two of the last three races at Auto Club Speedway. He would be a good pick, but I suggest waiting until Stewart Haas Racing figures out the new Gen-6 car.
Kevin Harvick has also had success at Auto Club Speedway. Harvick has one win, four top-five finishes and nine top-10 finishes in his 19 career starts at Auto Club Speedway.
Matt Kenseth has been strong on the two-mile racetracks in his career and he should be fast on Sunday. Kenseth would be a good choice for your team, but I think there are two better choices.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career stats at Auto Club Speedway….
Jimmie Johnson is the class of the field this week. The California native loves racing in his home state and he is the driver to beat in the Auto Club 400.
Johnson has five wins, 12 top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes and one pole at Auto Club Speedway.
Johnson’s career stats at the racetrack are unmatchable. He has a series-best average running position of 5.4, series-high 456 fastest laps run, series-best average green flag speed of 172.113 mph, series-high 3,142 laps run in the top 15 and a series high driver rating of 122.4.
Johnson should find his way to victory lane again on Sunday.
Kasey Kahne has had one of the fastest racecars at every racetrack this season. It is obvious that Hendrick Motorsports has an advantage over the competition this season. It would be smart to start filling your lineup with drivers from Hendrick Motorsports before the rest of the field catches up.
Kahne does not have the stats that Johnson does at Auto Club Speedway, but his success this season cannot be ignored. Kahne has one win, four top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and one pole at Auto Club Speedway.
Kahne brings momentum into the race on Sunday after his trip to victory lane at Bristol.
Other good choices: Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin
Yahoo! Group B
Like Group A, Group B is loaded with drivers who could win at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.
The best advice for picking drivers in Group B this week is to use drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing or Penske Racing.
There are some drivers who have good stats at Auto Club Speedway, but I would avoid selecting them for your team.
Ryan Newman has the fifth-best average finish and the third-best driver ranking over the last two races at Auto Club Speedway. Newman has struggled this year, so I would avoid him this week.
Kurt Busch has been very good in his career at Auto Club Speedway. He has one win, four top-five finishes, nine top-10 finishes and three poles in his 19 career starts at the racetrack. His success came while driving for Jack Roush and Roger Penske. He will not have the same success with Furniture Row Racing.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon their career stats at Auto Club Speedway.
It is no secret that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a much better driver at the beginning of the season than he is at the end. Earnhardt has a tendency to get on a hot streak early in the season. Do not miss a chance to get a top-five finish from Earnhardt this week.
Earnhardt has finished all four races this season in the top-10 and three of the races in the top five. With the horsepower that Hendrick Motorsports will provide him this week, he should have no problem making it five finishes in the top-10 in the first five races.
Although Joe Gibbs Racing has never won a race at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Busch is still a great selection for your team.
The best-case scenario would be for Busch to win the pole and earn your team 10 bonus points and have your other Group B drivers perform well in practice. Then you can save a start with Busch, but still gain points for his qualifying position.
Busch has one win, six top-five finishes, 10 top-10 finishes and one pole. He has the third-best average running position of 9.6, third-most laps run in the top 15 and the third-best driver rating of 106.4.
After a rough start to the season, Busch is starting to heat up.
Carl Edwards is another driver who is good on the two-mile racetracks. Edwards has one win, seven top-five finishes, 12 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 15 career starts at Auto Club Speedway. He also has the third-fastest average green flag speed of 171.437 mph and the sixth-best driver rating of 98.5.
Edwards had a poor race last week at Bristol, but he will bounce back this week in California.
Greg Biffle has not set the track on fire this season, but he has not been too bad, either. Biffle usually starts the season hot and finishes poorly. Auto Club Speedway is a good racetrack for him to start his hot streak.
Biffle has one win, four top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes in his 18 career starts at Auto Club Speedway. He has the third-most fastest laps run with 215 and the eighth-best driver rating of 95.9.
Biffle will finish in the top-10 this week.
Other good choices: Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Paul Menard
Yahoo! Group C Picks
Once again it will be slim pickings in Group C. Fantasy NASCAR players cannot use Ricky Stenhouse every week, so it will be important to try and find other options. There are drivers in Group C who will finish in the top 20. The key will be to identify who those drivers will be.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C for the race at Auto Club Speedway.
A.J. Allmendinger returns to the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing this week. So far this season, Allmendinger has finished No. 11 at Phoenix and No. 13 at Bristol. Whenever you can get a top-15 finish from your Group C driver, you have to take it.
Allmendinger will finish inside the top 20 again this week. He must be on all rosters this week.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has never competed in the Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway, but he has competed in three races at the racetrack in the Nationwide Series. Stenhouse finished two of the three races in the top five.
Stenhouse has not finished a race this season outside of the top 20. He consistently finishes between No. 12 and No. 18. He would be a great option as a backup to Allmendinger this week.
Other good choices: Casey Mears
Auto Club 400 Stats
2012 Auto Club 400 Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin, 186.403 MPH
2012 Auto Club 400 Winner: Tony Stewart, Started No. 9
Most Wins at Fontana - Active Drivers: Jimmie Johnson, 5
Most Poles at Fontana - Active Drivers: Kurt Busch, 3
Most Top 10s at Fontana - Active Drivers: Jimmie Johnson, 14; Matt Kenseth, 13
Most Top 5s at Fontana - Active Drivers: Jimmie Johnson, 12; Jeff Gordon, 10
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Matt Kenseth 2006, started No. 31
Races Won from the Pole: 1 of 23
Races Won from Top Five: 8 of 23
Races Won from Top 10: 12 of 23
Victories by manufacturer: Chevrolet (12), Ford (10), Dodge (1)
Victories by (active) owner: Rick Hendrick (9), Jack Roush (7), Stewart Haas (2), Roger Penske (2), Richard Childress (1).
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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