NASCAR: Auto Club 500 Race Preview

Ryan NotermanCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Jamie McMurray climbs on top of his #1 Bass Tracker Chevrolet to celebrate winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Three of Jamie McMurray's four career Sprint Cup victories have come at a restrictor plate track. The odds of McMurray winning the Daytona 500, according to, was 28 to one. Tony Stewart had the best odds at five to one.

Jamie has had only five top tens at California with no victories. The odds of McMurray winning the Auto Club 500 at Fontana, according to, are 40 to one. Jimmie Johnson is going at four to one.

Daytona is now in the rear view mirror, and McMurray knows that the focus has to be on Fontana this week. Next week it will be Las Vegas. One win or even two wins in the first two races of the season does not get you the championship at the end of the season—just ask Matt Kenseth.

Fontana has been very kind to a select few. Jeff Gordon, who finished second in this race last year, will look to rebound from a 26th place effort at Daytona.

Gordon has three wins at this track and an average finish of 10.5. He should be strong come Sunday.

Four years ago, Greg Biffle was starting in the fifth position and claimed he would lead after the first ten laps. He did and went on to win that race.

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Since then he has not had a victory at the track. He has had only two top tens and both of those were second place finishes.

Biffle had a very good Daytona with a third place finish and is credited for being the one to push McMurray to victory. He should be able to be strong and finish top five this week.

Many picked Kasey Kahne to win the 500 but he ended up wrecking and finishing 30th. Actually, all the Richard Petty Motorsports cars had trouble and finished 24th or worse.

However, Kahne has had some very good runs at Fontana including a victory in the fall race of 2006. His average finish at the track is 14.8 with seven top tens. Kahne should be able to challenge for the win.

After having the car to beat in Daytona, Kevin Harvick ended up getting hung out to dry by Carl Edwards and finished seventh. Now he comes to a track were he has not had much luck at all.

His last race there ended in an accident and he finished 38th. He has only one top five and an average finish of 18.7.

He has not got a points victory since the 2007 Daytona 500 and frustration is building. You could see it after the race last week.

This is not the track to break out of the streak. 

During the last lap of the race, I found myself in total shock. Not about McMurray, but about Dale Earnhardt Jr. I asked myself, "where did he come from?"

Unfortunately for Earnhardt fans, he has to come to a track where he does not have a victory and has and average finish of 22.1.

In his two years with Hendrix he has finished 11th, 25th, 39th, and 40th. Only the 11th place finish saw him finish on the lead lap.

So now here are my top five finishers for the Auto Club 500 at Fontana in order of finish:

1. Greg Biffle

2. Tony Stewart

3. Jeff Gordon

4. Kasey Kahne

5. Jimmie Johnson

After the race Biffle should vault himself into the points lead, as McMurray will come away with a top 15 finish.