NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth Headline Fantasy Picks for California

Luke KrmpotichContributor IIMarch 24, 2011

NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth Headline Fantasy Picks for California

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    FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Jimmie Johnson drives the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Auto Club Speedway is a two mile, D-shaped oval built in 1997.

    Also known as Fontana, the track held two races each year for the last several seasons.

    However, NASCAR cut one of its races in 2011 and this will be the only time the Cup series visits the track this season.

    Which drivers should be on your fantasy roster at California?

    The favorites hail from Roush Fenway Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. The two organizations have combined to win eight of the last 10 races at the track.

    Who are this weekend's favorites? Here are the top five drivers at Fontana, along with three more to keep an eye on.

1. Jimmie Johnson

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    FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Fans often complained that the racing at Fontana was boring, but Jimmie Johnson has never complained.

    If NASCAR wanted to "Jimmie-proof" the Chase, taking away California's fall race was a good way to start.

    Johnson has five career wins at the track, including four in the last seven races. He sports an average finish of 2.6 since 2007. He has never finished outside the top 20 at Auto Club Speedway, and has completed every lap in races he's run here.

    Suffice it to say, Johnson should be at the top of your fantasy roster if at all possible.

2. Matt Kenseth

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    FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Crown Royal Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi Max 400 on October 9, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Kenseth had a rough race at Fontana in the fall, finishing 30th, but other than that hiccup, he's been lights out at the track.

    With three wins and an average finish of 7.7 since 2006, he has had California figured out for some time now. He has completed 99.96 percent of all possible laps since his first race there in 2000.

    Kenseth's last win came at Fontana in February 2009. Don't be surprised if he returns to Victory Lane right where he left off two years ago.

3. Carl Edwards

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    BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 19:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Scotts EZ Seed Ford, stands next to his car on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Scotts EZ Seed 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 19, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Pho
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Matt Kenseth's teammate at Roush Fenway Racing, Carl Edwards has always been strong at California.

    He sports a 9.2 average finish, with 10 top-10's, six top-five's and one victory in 13 starts.

    Like Kenseth, Edwards had a rough race at Auto Club Speedway last fall.

    However, Edwards is the hottest driver on the Sprint Cup circuit. He won the last two races of 2010 and has a win and two second place finishes in 2011.

    His momentum shows no signs of slowing down, and you won't want to leave Edwards off your fantasy roster on Sunday.

4. Jeff Gordon

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04:  Jeff Gordon drives the #24 DuPont Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 4, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Jeff Gordon has three career wins in 21 starts at Auto Club Speedway.

    He has finished in the top five in nearly half of those races and has an average finish of 10.9.

    Gordon won earlier this season for the first time in nearly two years, and Sunday could be an ideal time for him to find Fontana's Victory Lane for the first time in several seasons.

    He finished second here two times in 2009, and is hungry for another win. Gordon provides solid value for any fantasy team.

5. Kyle Busch

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    BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 20:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 Presented By Food City at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 20, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Ph
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Kyle Busch has one career win at Fontana.

    He's been consistent but not dominant, with 243 laps led and eight top-10's in 13 starts.

    However, Busch is almost impossible to leave off your fantasy roster with the way he's been running lately.

    Other than a blown engine at Las Vegas, "Rowdy" has been the car to beat for much of the year.

    Last week at Bristol, Busch won the Nationwide race and followed that up by leading 153 laps in the Cup race en route to the weekend sweep.

    If he can stay out of trouble, he has as good a chance as any driver to take home the checkered flag at California.

Keep an Eye out For: Clint Bowyer

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04:  Clint Bowyer drives the #33 Wheaties Fuel Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 4, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Clint Bowyer is a solid second-tier Fontana fantasy pick.

    He has six top-10's in 10 career starts at the track, with 99.9 percent of laps completed and no finishes outside the top 20.

    Bowyer has led only 44 laps at California, so a victory is unlikely, but he has finished in the top 10 in the last three races here and came in second place last fall.

Keep an Eye out For: Mark Martin

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    BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 20: Mark Martin, driver of the #5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 Presented By Food City at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 20, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Ph
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Auto Club Speedway is not one of Mark Martin's best tracks historically, but his recent record here has been excellent.

    In the last three races here, Martin has finished fourth, fourth and sixth.

    The GoDaddy driver has one career win and 10 top-10's in 19 career starts at Fontana along with 324 laps led, but he also has four DNF's.

    However, if recent trends hold up, Martin could very well come home with a top-five on Sunday.

Keep an Eye out For: Tony Stewart

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    LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 04:  Tony Stewart drives the #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 4, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Imag
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Tony Stewart is a threat to win at any track, and California is no different.

    "Smoke" finally won here last fall, and has 11 top-10's in 19 starts to go along with that one victory.

    Although his career average at Fontana is only 14.2, Stewart's recent track record at Fontana is very strong.

    He is currently on a run of four consecutive top-10's. Look for him to run near the front in Sunday's race.

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