Wow! Congratulations to Kevin Harvick who won his third straight race this past weekend in Phoenix. He didn’t dominate this race like he had the previous two as some of the competition is getting stronger with Kyle Busch leading the majority of this race. Chase Elliott showed his improvement also and Denny Hamlin had a great run on a flat track once again.
AUTO CLUB 400
This week the series stays out west for the final week this spring as the drivers head to the Auto Club Speedway for the running of the Auto Club 400. This is the first two-mile track the series will race at this season, so we will have to see if Harvick can maintain his dominance, or if someone will break his streak. This is another low banked track, but with large sweeping corners. The longer straightaways will reward drivers who can run the top groove with a lot of speed down the stretch where they will be able to pass cars.
The bad news for the rest of the field is that Kevin Harvick has led the most laps here in the last two races. The question is who will stop him? Also, if you are in a fantasy league that limits your driver starts, when do you save Harvick, or do you keep using him until someone can show they have the speed and handling to beat him. He lost his car chief for the Phoenix race and that didn’t bother him at all.
Kevin Harvick: In his last nine starts at this California track, Kevin has come away with one win, three runner-up, and six top ten finishes. Not to mention he led 142 laps here two years ago on his way to one of those second place finishes. With the momentum he has right now it is hard not to have him on your roster this week once again. He will be on mine and I will decide if I should start him or not after qualifying and practices next weekend.
Kyle Busch: Kyle has been the driver who has been the closest to Kevin the past couple of weeks and only needs a small something extra to be able to beat him. Last year Kyle had the same trouble with Martin Truex on the intermediate tracks. I think if they wouldn’t have had trouble on their last pit stop they might have come out ahead of Harvick after their last stop and held him off. He is going to be on my roster this weekend also.
Kyle Larson: Kyle won this race last season and also won the last three races at Michigan which is a very similar track. He is one of the drivers who loves running the top groove and rocketing off the corners to pass other competitors on the straightaways. He has shown he has the speed once again this year and if he can stay off the wall he will be a contender once again this week.
Joey Logano: Joey has finished in the top five in his last two starts here. The Penske teams seem to have the speed they need, but are finding themselves resorting to trying something out of line with the race leaders most week’s to get them up to the front where they can compete for the win. Joey always seems to qualify well, but then they seem to fall behind as the race progresses and other teams are making the right adjustments where they seem to go backwards. If they can figure this out, they will be competitive every week.
Chase Elliott: Chase has really looked good the past couple of weeks and in his two starts here he has finished in the top ten both times. Combine that with three runner-up finishes in only four Michigan races and a top ten in his other start there he has finished in the top ten in all six of his races on two-mile tracks in his career in this series. I look for him to be towards the front of the pack this whole race and be in contention for the win at the end.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with six wins at his home state track. However, this team hasn’t shown that they are on top of their game at this point of the season and it looks like they have quite a bit of work to do to get back to being competitive. I think those days are coming again, but I want to wait and see before I put him back in my lineup. I think they will figure this thing out sooner rather than later this season.
Brad Keselowski: In his last three starts at this track, Brad has one win, one runner-up finish, and a top ten finish. We have seen that the Ford’s have been the fastest cars on the track each and every week so far this year. I also like the fact that if they have some kind of problem or qualify poorly that crew chief Pall Wolff will go out of sequence or make a two tire stop to get the track position they need. Better than trying to catch a car that is faster than you without using any strategy.
Kurt Busch: This is another team that has been strong all year and really showed what they were made of at Phoenix after staying out during a caution to grad the lead and then losing all of their track position when they pitted and the rest of the drivers stayed out. Kurt then drove back through the field to come away with a top ten finish. It just looks like the Stewart-Haas teams are ahead of the rest of the teams on these longer tracks at this point of the season.
Clint Bowyer: Another of the Stewart-Haas drivers, Clint has always run pretty well at this track. He finished third here last year in his only start at this track on this team and I think they could improve on that finish this weekend. I think the longer this team works together the better they will get and I think they are going to win some races this year. Clint is someone you can take a chance on this weekend, but I think I will save him for tracks like Martinsville, Richmond, and Loudon where he really runs well.
Martin Truex Jr.: Let’s not forget about Martin. Just because he hasn’t won at an intermediate track this season doesn’t mean this team lost what they had last year. Martin has run very well every week this season and should still be considered one of the drivers to beat each week the series heads to an intermediate track. He finished fourth here last year and all top five finishes are a huge accomplishment in this series.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
Driver Group Game Group B
- Chase Elliott
- Kurt Busch
- Erik Jones
- Ryan Blaney
Driver Group Game Group C
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- David Ragan
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Larson
- Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Alex Bowman
Big 18: Kyle Larson