Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Odds & Ends - California
Auto Club Speedway Data
Race #: 5 of 36 (3-29-12)
Track Size: 2 miles
Race Length: 200 laps/400 miles
Banking/Corners: 14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 11 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 3 degrees
Top 12 Driver Rating at Auto Club
Jimmie Johnson 123.1
Matt Kenseth 107.2
Kyle Busch 104.0
Mark Martin 100.5
Tony Stewart 100.1
Carl Edwards 98.3
Jeff Gordon 97.9
Greg Biffle 95.2
Kevin Harvick 93.7
Kasey Kahne 92.8
Clint Bowyer 92.3
Kurt Busch 89.9
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (13 total) at Auto Club.
2011 pole winner: Juan Pablo Montoya, 184.653 mph 38.992 seconds
2011 race winner: Kevin Harvick, 150.849 mph, 3-27-11)
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch (188.245 mph, 38.248 seconds, 2-25-05)
Track race record: Jeff Gordon (155.012 mph, 6-22-97)
Driver Ratings for Winners
Kevin Harvick 2011 92.2 10th
Tony Stewart 2010 Fall 96.8 8th
Jimmie Johnson 2010 Spring 122.3 1st
Jimmie Johnson 2009 Fall 119.4 1st
Matt Kenseth 2009 Spring 131.4 2nd
Jimmie Johnson 2008 Fall 114.7 1st
* Pre-Race Driver Ratings of the year the driver won at Auto Club Speedway (the past 6 races).
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Driver Highlights - California
Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
One win, four top fives, five top 10s
Average finish of 17.9
Average Running Position of 13.2, 10th-best
Driver Rating of 95.2, eighth-best
214 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
984 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.251 mph, fifth-fastest
2,140 Laps in the Top 15 (67.8%), eighth-most
556 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota)
Two top fives, seven top 10s
Average finish of 10.6
Average Running Position of 13.0, ninth-best
Driver Rating of 92.3, 11th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 170.755 mph, 12th-fastest
Kurt Busch (No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet)
One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; three poles
Average finish of 12.9
Average Running Position of 14.4, 11th-best
Driver Rating of 89.9, 12th-best
1,076 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 170.780 mph, 11th-fastest
629 Quality Passes, sixth-most
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 12.0
Average Running Position of 10.2, fifth-best
Driver Rating of 104.0, third-best
177 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.227 mph, sixth-fastest
2,474 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4%), third-most
Series-high 690 Quality Passes
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Subway Ford)
One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 9.0
Average Running Position of 12.6, seventh-best
Driver Rating of 98.3, sixth-best
153 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.259 mph, fourth-fastest
2,343 Laps in the Top 15 (74.3%), sixth-most
612 Quality Passes, eighth-most
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
Three wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
Average finish of 11.2
Average Running Position of 9.9, third-best
Driver Rating of 97.9, seventh-best
189 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
1,074 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.189 mph, seventh-fastest
2,401 Laps in the Top 15 (76.1%), fourth-most
688 Quality Passes, second-most
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota)
One top five, four top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 19.2
Driver Rating of 87.5, 13th-best
Average Green Flag Speed of 170.744 mph, 13th-fastest
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet)
One win, three top fives, eight top 10s
Average finish of 16.2
Average Running Position of 12.7, eighth-best
Driver Rating of 93.7, ninth-best
92 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
1,050 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 170.948 mph, ninth-fastest
2,252 Laps in the Top 15 (71.4%), seventh-most
597 Quality Passes, 10th-most
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet)
Five wins, 12 top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 5.1
Series-best Average Running Position of 5.4
Series-best Driver Rating of 123.1
Series-high 440 Fastest Laps Run
Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 171.955 mph
Series-high 3,013 Laps in the Top 15 (95.5%)
676 Quality Passes, fourth-most
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet)
One win, four top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
Average finish of 14.9
Average Running Position of 14.7, 13th-best
Driver Rating of 92.8, 10th-best
106 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
1,029 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
1,947 Laps in the Top 15 (61.7%), 11th-most
600 Quality Passes, ninth-most
Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)
Three wins, eight top fives, 13 top 10s
Average finish of 9.9
Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
Driver Rating of 107.2, second-best
128 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
991 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.335 mph, second-fastest
2,608 Laps in the Top 15 (82.7%), second-most
615 Quality Passes, seventh-most
Mark Martin (No. 55 Aaron's Toyota)
One win, six top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish of 13.7
Average Running Position of 9.9, fourth-best
Driver Rating of 100.5, fourth-best
144 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.309 mph, third-fastest
2,079 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3%), 10th-most
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
One win, five top fives, 11 top 10s
Average finish of 14.1
Average Running Position of 10.7, sixth-best
Driver Rating of 100.1, fifth-best
190 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
Average Green Flag Speed of 171.188 mph, eighth-fastest
2,373 Laps in the Top 15 (75.2%), fifth-most
632 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
California Auto Club 400 Driver Notes & Quotes
MARCOS AMBROSE ON FONTANA: “After our weekend in Bristol I’m ready to head off to the west coast and start fresh at California. Auto Club Speedway is a fast track and I enjoy going there. It can be hard to get a handle on the race car because the track gets really slick, especially when the sun comes out. I’m excited to go to a two-mile oval, I feel like our intermediate track program has improved greatly since this time last year, and we were really strong at the two-mile tracks in 2011. I’m really looking forward to going to Auto Club Speedway this weekend and seeing what the DEWALT Ford has got.”
AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 784 for this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was previously run last season at several intermediate tracks.
BRAD KESELOWSKI ON FONTANA: “We’ve run really well with the Nationwide car at Auto Club Speedway over the last couple of years. We don’t yet have a win to show for it, but it gives me a boost of confidence because Fontana has been one of the tougher tracks for me over the years. I’m really looking forward to going back this weekend and having a solid race with the Cup car. The Cup car was a little up and down last year, but it was really fast at times. Everyone on the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is excited about the car we are taking this weekend. There has been a lot of work put into it and I think it will race well.”
KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-816 during Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (ACS). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.
BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 15 5-hour ENERGY team will race chassis No. 727 at Fontana. Chassis No. 721 will serve as the backup. Chassis 721 also served as the backup in Las Vegas. Both chassis are new in 2012.
GREG BIFFLE ON CALIFORNIA: “Bristol didn’t turn out quite the way we planned it, but we do feel better about our finish since we found something wrong with the car after the race. The right-front bump stop failed, so it was down on the splitter for the last 17-lap run. We wondered why we weren’t going forward, we were going backward and unfortunately finished 13th, but kept the point lead. More importantly, we are looking forward to California. We’ve got the best car to ever come out of the Roush Fenway shop. Our California car has the best downforce numbers, it’s the lightest, badest, newest thing the guys can build. It’s a good track for me, I like California Speedway, and so we are looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-803 Brand new chassis; Backup: RK-786 Last ran Homestead – finished 35th
MATT KENSETH ON CALIFORNIA: “Fontana has always has been a track that I really enjoy racing at but it has changed a lot the last few years. It seems like we used to have a better handle on it before it got really rough, the cracks got wide, it wore out and the groove moved up so much. It is a really fun track and really challenging because of the huge cracks in the corners you have to drive around combined with the seams in the pavement. In order to have a good car, you have to get through the corners faster than everybody else. Everyone thinks it is a big horsepower track because it is a two-mile track, but it gets so slick and there is not a lot of grip in the corners as the run goes on. You just need to really have your car balanced well and have that momentum through the corners.”
KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-787 (Last run at Texas, Nov. 2011, FINISHED 4TH)
KYLE BUSCH ON CALIFORNIA: “It’s a fast racetrack and you just have to be able carry a lot of speed through the corners. You’re in the corner for a long time, but the more the speed you carry through the turn the better it makes your straightaways. It’s a big, fast racetrack and I’m hoping we can get the Interstate Batteries Camry back to victory lane there like we did at Michigan last August for Norm Miller (Chairman, Interstate Batteries) and all of their distributors and dealers.”
“I like California. It’s fun. It’s really wide and it’s kind of flatter than Michigan, so it’s a little harder to kind of get a hold of, but you can really spread out. We’ve been seeing a lot of guys all the way down at the white line. We saw guys all the way up at the wall. It always seems to be a really good race, there. It’s a really fun racetrack. It’s widened out and it’s become where you can race all over it and, with the race being as long as it is, you need to take a lot of time working through traffic and being able to have a good car and all that. It’s the same thing every week. California is just another one of those racetracks that seems to suit Jimmie (Johnson) really, really well. He’s been in contention to win the past eight races there, I think, and he’s probably won four of them. You have to hit it at the right time in these races as far as your adjustments go. Everywhere you go, but at California too, it’s all about the second-to-last pit stop and the last pit stop. I remember California last year – we led the most laps, we ran up front all day long and then the last run of the race we missed a little bit of something. Jimmie caught me, passed me and then Kevin (Harvick) came out of nowhere and passed Jimmie, too. You have to be able to hit it right through the end of the race in order to win these things. It seems harder to do that but we’re hoping we can stay ahead of those adjustments this time and get our Interstate Batteries Toyota to victory lane.”
JEFF GORDON CREW CHIEF ALAN GUSTAFSON ON CALIFORNIA: “It’s more difficult when you visit a track only once per season. Time is obviously a big thing – everything stems off that one event. What has time changed? The track usually. Every year the track changes and when you race there only once you have only half the information. And over a year’s time, the cars and setups evolve significantly. I don’t put much stock in our California notes (from last March). I look at [August] Michigan – a similar track and the notes are way more current.
“If you look at the car we had at California last year and the car we will run this week, they’re very different. We may only race here once a year, but it doesn’t take long to get back in the rhythm. And I love that you can race high, low and everywhere in between here. That gives us the ability to search for a line that works.
PAUL MENARD ON CALIFORNIA: “I know that California (Auto Club Speedway) gets knocked as a race track since it is wide open and generally caution free. Drivers tend to enjoy that, though. You have long runs and can really analyze your car and work on it during pit stops. The track is really wide. You can run top to bottom and everywhere in between. It’s relatively smooth, too, and makes for fun racing for us drivers. If a race fan wants to see crashes and cautions, that’s probably not going to happen there.”
MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 384 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet and will log its first laps on the track at during Friday’s practice session.
KEVIN HARVICK ON CALIFORNIA: “I just enjoy how the track has really spread out and the groove you can run from the bottom to the top. It’s also fun to race in front of a lot of your fans and friends that get to come to the race track from close to where we used to live.”
HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 374 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This brand new Chevrolet Impala will be put through its first paces this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
JEFF BURTON ON FUEL MILEAGE AND EFI: “The biggest issue with an EFI engine is that has to spin to find itself to determine where it is in the spark sequence. If you have power and everything is operating correctly, once it finds its sequence of what cylinder it is supposed to be firing and you have fuel, it’s going to fire up. We have also introduced electronics into a situation where these cars are really hot and have a lot of vibrations. We also have those issues that we didn’t have before. There will be some issues; there always is. Anytime you have something new, there are going to be some issues. We’ve done everything we know how to do, but that doesn’t mean we are going to have problems.”
BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 393 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This is a brand new No. 31 Chevrolet Impala that will turn its first laps at the Fontana, Calif., track this weekend.
BRENDAN GAUGHAN ON CALIFORNIA, HIS LAST CUP START OF 2012: “I just want to keep improving, this car is totally different than any other NASCAR race car I have raced, so I want to keep improving and end on a high note. I want to score my best finish and improve my driver rating from Bristol Motor Speedway.”
GAUAGHN CHASSIS CHOICE: Brendan Gaughan will pilot Chassis No. 392 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala was built brand new for the 2012 season and will see its first competitive laps this weekend in the 200-lap event.
ARIC ALMIROLA ON FONATNA: “I like going out to California. I have some family out there, my sister actually, and it’s good to spend some time with her. The Los Angeles area is just a lot of fun. We don’t get to go out there a lot, but we’re going to make the most of it. My wife (Janice) and I are going to spend a few extra days out there and visit. But, first we’ve got our work to do at the track.
“It’s a tough track because it’s relatively flat, but it’s still two miles in length and really wide. We’re carrying a lot of speed. Having a good day is all about having a balanced car that can keep your momentum up. If you’re struggling with the car, it can really cost you a lot of time.
“Fortunately, in the Nationwide races I’ve run at the track, I had good cars and good finishes. I know what I’m looking for in the car and I just need to communicate that to Greg. We’re still getting to know each other, but I’m pretty happy with our communication so far. We have to keep working on some areas, but it’s been good so far. Communication will be key this weekend.”
ALMIROLA CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 43 Medallion Financial Ford will be chassis number 752. It’s the first time that it has been raced in 2012, but made three starts last fall at Dover, Atlanta and Texas.
KURT BUSCH CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis No. 578 - This weekend’s Auto Club 400 will be the first race of the season for this chassis. The No. 51 Phoenix Racing team competed with this chassis a handful of times during the 2011 season, with the most recent race being the 2011 AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where driver Landon Cassill earned a 22nd-place finish after starting from 37th.
JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1120. Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No.1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate team will bring Chassis #1120 to Auto Club Speedway this weekend. This chassis made its debut last season at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October with a 27th-place finish. The No.1 team also ran this chassis at Homestead-Miami Speedway where it came home in 14th-place.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Chassis #1119. Crew Chief Chris Heroy and the No.42 Target team will bring Chassis #1119 to Auto Club Speedway this weekend. This chassis first saw track time at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, where it finished 14thand led two laps. The No.42 team also ran this chassis at Texas Motor Speedway where it finished 18th.
MARTIN TRUEX JR ON FONTANA: “The schedule we’ve had this season has been a good test of our entire program. We’ve been able to get a decent measure of our team against the competition at different types of tracks. Obviously going to California at the two-mile track will be a big test for us. It will show us where we stand at the big tracks. So far, our speedway program has been very good. Our short-track program is as good as anyone’s. At Vegas, we showed signs of speed and had the potential to do great things. We are still a work in progress. We still have work to do and know the areas that we can do better as a whole. We just need to keep working on the little things and keep putting ourselves in position to run up front every week. I don’t believe we’ve peaked yet. Our wins are going to come and I hope we can continue our streak this weekend in California.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON ON FONTANA: “I’ve been really successful at Auto Club Speedway. It’s my home track. We got our first Sprint Cup career win there in ’02, so it’s a special track to me. I definitely always see some friends and family while we are out there. I remember last year, we were very close to victory lane, about three-quarters of a mile away from the trophy, but Kevin Harvick found a way around the outside. So, I know we’ll go there and be very competitive this time."
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
California Auto Club 400 Storylines
After the weekend’s stop in Bristol’s Thunder Valley, NASCAR Sprint Cup \and NASCAR Nationwide Series teams head west for the third time in 2012 for the season’s only visit to the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The NSCS won’t return west again until the June 24 running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway’s road course near Sonoma, Calif.
Some questions to be answered at Auto Club Speedway:
· Will Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick duel for victory for the third consecutive season?
· Will Johnson or another Hendrick Motorsports driver post the organization’s milestone 200th victory – or will seven-time ACS winner Roush Fenway Racing spoil the party?
· Can Michael Waltrip Racing add to its unprecedented performance surge?
· Which team(s) will be on the outside looking in after owner points are tallied after the Auto Club 400 for 35 guaranteed starting positions at Martinsville Speedway?
· Will there be a fifth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series points-eligible winner in Victory Lane following Saturday’s Royal Purple 300? Will points leader Elliott Sadler post win No. 3 or will a California driver step up to celebrate in the Golden State?
Another Golden State Shootout In the Offing?
The last two spring races at Auto Club Speedway have been duels between El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson and Bakersfield’s Kevin Harvick. Johnson ended up in Victory Lane with the Harvick-dubbed "golden horse shoe" in hand in 2010. Harvick earned the title of "The Closer" a year ago by edging five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Johnson by 0.144 seconds – the closest NSCS finish in the track’s history.
Johnson leads all drivers with five wins at the track followed by fellow Californian and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon of Vallejo with three wins. Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, who finished second in last weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the only other driver with multiple wins.
Gordon, by the way, is one of four finalists for the Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award given to those who have made significant contributions to motorsports from the Golden State. Other finalists are drag racer "TV Tommy" Ivo, Indianapolis 500 roadster builder A.J. Watson and sports car racer Tony Adamowicz. The winner of the award, named in honor of the longtime Los Angeles Times motorsports writer and columnist Shav Glick, will be announced prior to Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Other California drivers expected to compete at Fontana include AJ Allmendinger, Los Gatos; David Gilliland, Riverside; Casey Mears, Bakersfield; Josh Wise, Riverside; and Robby Gordon, Orange.
No Surprise, It’s Hendrick Vs. Roush In Fontana
Will this be the weekend Rick Hendrick and company get its milestone 200th victory? History is on the side of HMS, which leads all organizations with nine wins at Auto Club Speedway. HMS newcomer Kasey Kahne won in Fontana in the fall of 2006 as the driver of Ray Evernham’s Dodge.
That 200th milestone will be out of reach if Roush Fenway Racing has anything to say on the subject. RFR drivers have won seven times at the Southern California track most recently in the spring of 2009 with Kenseth. All three of the team’s current drivers have victories at Auto Club headed by Kenseth’s three trips to Victory Lane. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings leader Greg Biffle has one win (2005) as does Carl Edwards (2008).
Michael Waltrip Racing Rolls; Who Are These Guys?
Three words describe how qualifying for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ has become incrementally more difficult in 2012: Michael Waltrip Racing. The team, which has yet to send a driver to the Chase, but counts its two full-time members Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer among the top 10 in points after the season’s first four races.
That follows an unprecedented finish of three drivers – Truex, Bowyer and first-time organization starter Brian Vickers – among the top five in Bristol. All three of MWR’s cars (one is shared by Mark Martin and Vickers) are top 10 in NSCS Owner Championship standings.
Martin has the best record at Auto Club Speedway: a win in 1998 among six top-five finishes. Bowyer, eighth in points, finished second in 2010. Truex, hoping to erase a 171-race winless streak dating to the 2007 fall race at Dover International Speedway, posted back-to-back sixth-place finish at ACS in 2007-08. Truex ranks a heady fourth in points, 18 behind leader Biffle.
Biffle’s Top-Three Streak Ends But Veteran Retains Points Lead
Biffle, 13th at Bristol after running among the top 10 most of the afternoon, left Thunder Valley with a pair of successes. His 10th career Coors Light Pole puts him in field for the 2013 Shootout At Daytona. The Vancouver, Wash., driver also retains the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead by nine over Harvick. Daytona 500 winner Kenseth is third followed by Truex and Phoenix winner Denny Hamlin.
Five drivers who didn’t qualify for last year’s Chase rank among the current top 10: Biffle (first), Truex (fourth), Bowyer (eighth), Joey Logano (ninth) and Paul Menard (10th). Last year’s Chase drivers outside the top 10 are Ryan Newman (12th), Bristol winner Brad Keselowski (13th), Edwards (14th), Kyle Busch (15th), Johnson (17th), Jeff Gordon (23rd) and Kurt Busch (27th).
Attention NASCAR Sprint Cup Owners: This Is Cut-Down Week
Last season’s Car Owner Championship standings locked in the top 35 teams automatically qualifying for each of 2012’s first five races. The Auto Club 400 is race No. 5 after which the lock-in will be based upon current points.
Five teams are fighting for a top-35 spot – including the No. 10 of Tommy Baldwin, which has a guaranteed starting spot this week but ranks 36th after last weekend’s Bristol competition. The car is shared by David Reutimann and Danica Patrick. Baldwin trails Thomas Ueberall’s No. 83 by three points and – surprisingly – the 34th-ranked No. 5 of Linda Hendrick (driven by Kasey Kahne) by seven.
Two other teams hoping to make a move into the top 35 this week are Kevin Butler’s No. 30 (38th, 10 points behind Ueberall) and the No. 26 of Jerry Freeze, 39th, with an 18-point deficit).
Teams with cars outside the top 35 beginning with the April 1 race at Martinsville Speedway must qualify for the fields based on speed.
Each Series Manufacturer Boast A Winner After Four Races
Keselowski’s second consecutive victory at Bristol Motor Speedway completed the cycle for the four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturers. Dodge followed Chevrolet (Las Vegas), Toyota (Phoenix) and Ford (Daytona) into Victory Lane matching a feat last achieved in 1986 when the season’s first four races were won by four different nameplates (Chevrolet, Ford, Oldsmobile and Buick).
Keselowski, at age 28, is the season’s youngest winner. The Food City 500 marked the Michigan native’s fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup win.
Keselowski has yet to finish higher than 21st in three NSCS trips to Auto Club Speedway. He was 26th a year ago.
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Auto Club 400 Preview
By Micah Roberts
It will be interesting to see what kind crowd shows up for this weekend’s NASCAR race at Auto Club (California) Speedway after witnessing the rapid attendance decline at Bristol Sunday. Once the hardest ticket to get in sports, it was disappointing to see a 160,000 seat beast like Bristol only to have about 90,000 in attendance. The type of racing Bristol produces on their new surface may contribute to the demise, but there is something more to it.
Does NASCAR cost too much for a family to attend in this still depressed economic climate and is the sport in a decline after seeing monster growth at the end of the 1990’s? The answer to both is an emphatic “Yes!”
California seats only 80,000, but because of declining attendance they had one of their two dates stripped from them before the start of the 2011 season. Last season with only one date, the Fontana, CA track was relatively full for the first time in nearly five years. But the problem with a track in Southern California is that there is so much to do on a weekend that always has perfect weather. NASCAR is low on the list that includes beaches, Hollywood and just the overall LA vibe. The people that attend the Fontana races usually aren’t from the area and require folks from elsewhere to fill the seats.
This week’s race is the fifth of the season, but yet West Coast fans have already been treated to events in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Fontana will lose out to those two facilities on just about every traveling NASCAR fans' bucket-list. Not even Danica Patrick driving (which she isn’t this week) can change NASCAR’s appeal in SoCal.
But even if we don’t want to go to the race there, we’ll still be watching it on television and betting it at the sports books. The first four races have been fantastic with four different winners, won by four different manufacturers, on four different tracks and not even a hint on who is going to be the driver beat during the Chase. The favorites of Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson both look like they’re still in the midst of working out some issues while longer shots like Greg Biffle and last week’s winner, Brad Keselowski, create some intrigue.
The driver that no one seems to be talking about that has quietly gone about his business is Kevin Harvick, who is currently second in the standings, nine points behind Biffle. Harvick captured his first win at what is deemed his home track last year in this race. He finished runner-up in this race in 2010. Just because of those two runs he has to be considered a candidate to win.
“I just enjoy how the track has really spread out and the groove you can run from the bottom to the top," said Harvick who will be using a brand new chassis this week. "It’s also fun to race in front of a lot of your fans and friends that get to come to the race track from close to where we used to live.”
With only four races run and not having any track that is similar to go off of, we have to use last season’s race as a barometer along with past history there. We can also use a little bit of the Las Vegas results because both require lots of horse power even though the tracks run completely different.
Having established Las Vegas as part of the equation, we have to include Tony Stewart into all talk about who might win this week. Stewart had never won at Fontana until taking the checkers in 2010. Since 2009, a span of five races, Stewart has finished 13th or better with two top-5 finishes.
Fontana’s all-time leader in wins is Jimmie Johnson with five, including his first Cup win in 2002 during his rookie season. He has a sick 5.1 average in 17 starts that includes five runner-up finishes. Last season was one of those occasions when Harvick passed him late for the win. To take Johnson’s amazing feat even further on a recent basis, he’s finished in the top-3 in eight of his last nine starts there. So what makes him so good there?
“I’ve been really successful at Auto Club Speedway," Johnson said earlier this week. "It’s my home track. We got our first Sprint Cup career win there in ’02, so it’s a special track to me. I definitely always see some friends and family while we are out there. I remember last year, we were very close to victory lane, about three-quarters of a mile away from the trophy, but Kevin Harvick found a way around the outside. So, I know we’ll go there and be very competitive this time."
Johnson should be very competitive, not only because of his past record, but also because of the car he's bringing this week. He'll be using the same chassis that led 197 laps en route to a win at Kansas last season.
Whenever Johnson isn’t winning there, it’s a good probability that Matt Kenseth is. Kenseth is a three-time winner with an average finish of 9.9. We also have some similarities this year from the last time he won in 2009. It was also the same season he won the Daytona 500. Not that the two tracks correlate, but it is unique nonetheless.
“Fontana has always has been a track that I really enjoy racing at but it has changed a lot the last few years," said Kenseth. "It seems like we used to have a better handle on it before it got really rough, the cracks got wide, it wore out and the groove moved up so much. It is a really fun track and really challenging because of the huge cracks in the corners you have to drive around combined with the seams in the pavement. In order to have a good car, you have to get through the corners faster than everybody else. Everyone thinks it is a big horsepower track because it is a two-mile track, but it gets so slick and there is not a lot of grip in the corners as the run goes on. You just need to really have your car balanced well and have that momentum through the corners.”
Kenseth will be driving the same chassis that finished fourth in the fall Texas race last season.
Drivers we can also expect to do well include Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Biffle and maybe Edwards. No one is more scared of how Edwards’ season has gone thus far than him, except for maybe a bettor who took him to win the championship.
Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #17 Matt Kenseth (10/1)
2) #14 Tony Stewart (8/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (7/1)
4) #16 Greg Biffle (12/1)
5) #29 Kevin Harvick (12/1)
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Auto Club 400 Predictions
By Steve Janus
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is headed to Fontana, California for the 2012 Auto Club 400. This is usually the first of two stops at Auto Club Speedway, but because of a drop off in attendance the fall race was scratched prior to the start of the season. A lack of attendance has been a big concern for NASCAR.
While there aren’t as many fans attending races right now, it hasn’t taken away from the actual racing. Last week at Bristol, Brad Keselowski put together a dominating performance to bring home his first win of the season. It’s unlikely Keselowski will carry over his success to Fontana. In three starts at Auto Club Speedway Keselowski hasn’t finished better than 21st.
The defending champ at this event is Kevin Harvick, but the guy that really seems to race well at this early event is Matt Kenseth. In the last six stops at this event, Kenseth has won three times, including back-to-back checkered flags in 2006 and 2007. A lot of people confuse Auto Club Speedway with a high-horsepower track, but in order to have success at this venue you have to have a well balanced car that will allow you to get through the corners faster than everyone else.
If you are thinking about betting the race this weekend, here is a look at the three drivers who I feel have a great shot at winning.
Matt Kenseth – I’m not going to reach far for my favorite to win this week. Kenseth’s track record alone at Auto Club Speedway is enough reason to take the No. 17 car to bring home the trophy this week. Including his three wins at this event, Kenseth has eight top 5 finishes on this track. He hasn’t won here since 2009, which makes me like him a little more. Another reason to jump on board with Kenseth this weekend, is how well he has raced early in the season. He opened up the year with a win at the Daytona 500 and was runner-up last week at the Food City 500.
Greg Biffle – With the way Biffle has been racing of late, it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself in victory lane. Prior to his 13th place finish at Bristol last week, Biffle had put together a string of three straight third place finishes to start the season. Biffle hasn’t won at Auto Club Speedway since 2005, but that won’t stop me from placing a bet on the No. 16 car to win this week.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has quietly got things rolling after getting knocked out of the Daytona 500 early due to an accident. The No. 48 car rolls into Fontana off three straight top 10 finishes. This is another driver that you can count on winning a race in the near future. There’s a pretty good chance he takes care of business this week. Johnson is the all-time leader in wins at Auto Club Speedway with five. While most of those have come in the fall race previously held at this track, he has won the spring race twice in his career. If you are looking for a safe pick to be in contention late, I don’t know that there is a better option than Johnson.
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Driver Handicaps: Auto Club
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Who's HOT at Auto Club
• Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers in wins (5), laps led (849) and average finish (5.1).
• Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have one win and a 9.3 average finish in the seven races with the COT.
• Kevin Harvick's win last season was his fourth consecutive top 10.
• Three-time winner Jeff Gordon has posted a 9.9 average finish in the seven races with the COT.
• Carl Edwards has one win and a 9.0 average finish in 14 starts.
• Clint Bowyer has finished ninth or better in his last four starts.
Keep an Eye On at Auto Club
• Kyle Busch led all drivers with a 2.3 average finish in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011.
• Mark Martin has finished sixth or better in three of his last four starts at Auto Club.
• Series points leader Greg Biffle has posted five top 10s at Auto Club, including a win in 2005.
• Ryan Newman has finished fifth in his last two starts at Auto Club.
• Martin Truex Jr. is coming off his second top 10 in the last three races of the season.
• Juan Pablo Montoya is tied for fourth in laps led (118) in the seven races with the COT at Auto Club.
• Kasey Kahne is coming off his ninth top 10 at Auto Club Speedway.
• Brad Keselowski has spent 1,153 laps while running in the top 15 in all the races this season, second only to Greg Biffle.
MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Greg Biffle
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Ricky Hamber: Jimmie Johnson
Craig Moore: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
John Singler: Matt Kenseth
Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Auto Club unless noted)
Greg Biffle: Winner of the 2005 spring race; Last of five top 10s came in the 2010 spring race; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 803) in the Auto Club 400.
Kevin Harvick: Defending race winner; Win was fourth straight top 10; Fourth in average finish (10.0) in the seven races with the COT; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 374) in the Auto Club 400.
Matt Kenseth: Three-time winner; Coming off 13th top 10 (fourth) in 19 starts; Tied for second in average finish (9.3) in the seven races with the COT; Second in top fives (4) in the seven races with the COT; Tied for second in average finish (5.3) in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 787) that he last finished fourth with at Texas Motor Speedway last fall.
Martin Truex Jr: 26.0 average finish in three starts with Michael Waltrip Racing: Last of two top 10s came in the 2008 spring race; Is coming off his second top 10 in the last three races of the season.
Denny Hamlin: 19.2 average finish in 11 starts; Last of four top 10s came in the 2010 October race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: 25.0 average finish in seven starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Last of four top 10s in 19 starts came in 2007 with Dale Earnhardt, Inc; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 711) in the Auto Club 400.
Tony Stewart: 7.2 average finish in five starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Tied for second in average finish (9.3) in the seven races with the COT; Fourth in average finish (9.7) in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 706) in the Auto Club 400. This car has been tested in the wind tunnel.
Clint Bowyer: Seventh-place finish last year was fourth consecutive top 10; Third in average finish (7.7) in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in a new car (chassis No. 727).
Joey Logano: 16.2 average finish in five starts; Best finish (fifth), and only top 10, came in the 2010 spring race.
Paul Menard: Finished 16th last year in first track start with Richard Childress Racing; Finish was best in nine starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 384) in the Auto Club 400.
Jimmie Johnson: Leads all drivers in wins (3), laps led (630) and average finish (2.7) in the seven races with the COT; Fifth in average finish (10.3) in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 681) that he led 197 laps with en route to the win at Kansas Speedway last fall.
Jeff Burton: 16.9 average finish in 22 starts; Best finish in 14 starts with Richard Childress Racing came in the 2010 spring race; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 393) in the Auto Club 400.
Ryan Newman: Has finished fifth in last two starts; Tied for second in average finish (5.3) in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 677) that he last finished fifth with at Michigan International Speedway.
Brad Keselowski: 24.3 average finish in three starts; Best finish came in the 2010 spring race in 21st; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 816) in the Auto Club 400.
Carl Edwards: Winner of the 2008 spring race; Coming off 11 top 10 in 14 starts; Fifth in average finish (10.4) in the seven races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 782) that he finished second with at Phoenix International Raceway last fall.
Kyle Busch: 12.9 average finish in seven starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; Won the 2005 September race with Hendrick Motorsports; Second in laps led (180) in the seven races with the COT; Led all drivers with a 2.3 average finish in the three races on 2-mile speedways in 2011.
Mark Martin: 13.6 average finish in 20 starts; Has finished sixth or better in three of his last four starts; Will make first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in a new car (chassis No. 726).
Juan Pablo Montoya: Won the pole and finished 10th last year; 19.3 average finish in nine starts; Tied for fourth in laps led (118) in the seven races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1119) that he last finished 18th with at Texas Motor Speedway last fall.
Jamie McMurray: Won the pole and finished 17th in both races in 2010; 16.9 average finish in 16 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1120) that he last finished 14th with at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Regan Smith: 25.5 average finish in six starts; Best finish came in the 2010 fall race in 12th.
Jeff Gordon: Last of three wins came in 2004; Last of 11 top 10s came in the 2010 fall race in ninth; Third in average finish (9.9) in the seven races with the COT.
AJ Allmendinger: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in seven starts; Equaled best finish last year in 14th; Will make first track start with Penske Racing in a new car (chassis No. 817).
Kurt Busch: 12.9 average finish in 18 starts; Won the 2003 race with Roush Racing; Will make first track start with Phoenix Racing in the same car (chassis No. 578) that Landon Cassill last drove to a 22nd-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kasey Kahne: Coming off ninth top 10 (ninth) in 15 starts; Will make first track start with Hendrick Motorsports; Won the 2006 September race with Evernham Motorsports.
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
Auto Club 400 Preview and Picks
By Greg Engle
NASCAR continues its zigzag course across America, heading back out west to the Auto Club Speedway near Los Angeles for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400.
While the series has covered the far reaches of the country, it has also raced on a different sized track each week. Sunday will mark the first trip of the season to a 2-mile oval and is shaping up to be a battle between two California natives: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
Johnson has won two of the last four races at the Auto Club Speedway and is the series' active leader with five wins overall in California. He’s also coming off two Top-5 finishes in the last four races. After the team won their appeal for penalties during Daytona this week, Johnson had 25 points added back and vaulted 12 spots to 11th in the standings.
He was second at the Auto Club Speedway last season, losing to Harvick by 0.144 seconds – the closest NSCS finish in the track’s history. The No. 48 has the history and the motivation to go all the way this weekend.
“We got our first Sprint Cup career win there in 2002, so it’s a special track to me,” Johnson said. “I remember last year, we were very close to Victory Lane, about three-quarters of a mile away from the trophy, but Kevin Harvick found a way around the outside. So, I know we’ll go there and be very competitive.”
Just like he did last season, Harvick is looking to spoil Johnson’s homecoming with a party of his own. As the defending winner of this race, and with three Top 10s and a Top 5 finish at California in the four races prior to that, Harvick has a good shot at making it back-to-back victories in the Golden State.
"The last two years, the race has pretty much come down to us and the No. 48 team (Jimmie Johnson),” Harvick said, pointing out that he nearly won in 2010. “The year before I ran into the wall and last year we won. That was good to come back and rebound from the mistake from 2010 and being able to race with Jimmie was a lot of fun. Especially at the California race track. That's been a great race track for us over the last several years and I’m looking forward to going back.”
While Johnson and Harvick have traded spring race victories, it’s important to remember that Tony Stewart scored a win in between their trips to Victory Lane. The defending Sprint Cup champion - a winner at Phoenix earlier this month - captured the Auto Club Speedway’s final 500-mile fall race in 2010 and could spoil the Sunday for the California kids.
Carl Edwards vs. Matt Kenseth: You can’t dismiss the Roush-Fenway Fords at California. While they may not be favorites Sunday, both Edwards and Kenseth have won here before. Edwards is looking to rebound from a disastrous outing at Bristol last week while Kenseth has been strong to start 2012. This week’s primetime matchup should be a good one, but look for Edwards to finish ahead of Kenseth.
Martin Truex Jr. vs. Mark Martin: This battle among teammates at Michael Waltrip Racing should be another good matchup. The MWR team surprised many by having all three cars finish in the Top 5 at Bristol last week. Truex looked strong last Sunday and seems to be coming alive. Martin is running a part-time schedule and returns this week with the same team Brian Vickers led laps and finished fifth with last Sunday. Martin has the best record at Auto Club Speedway - a win in 1998 among six top-five finishes - so look for him to finish with Truex in his rear view.
Eleven of the 22 races at Auto Club Speedway were won from starting positions outside the top 10. Only one has been won from the pole (Jimmie Johnson in 2008). The most productive two starting positions are third and 24th, with three victories each. Matt Kenseth won the 2006 spring race from the 31st starting position - the deepest in the field that a race winner has started.
Jimmie Johnson (+700)
Kevin Harvick (+1,000)
Tony Stewart (+800)
Re: Auto Club 400 Betting News and Notes
NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings
By Micah Roberts
This Week's Race: Auto Club 400
Practice Notes - California
Rating Driver Odds Practice 1 Qualified Practice 2 Practice 3
1 Matt Kenseth 8/1 11th 15th 2nd 7th
Notes: Three-time winner, the last coming in '09 following a Daytona 500 win; using Texas fall chassis.
2 Tony Stewart 7/1 14th 9th 4th 10th
Notes: 2010 winner with a 14.1 average finish; using new chassis, a clone to winning Las Vegas car.
3 Denny Hamlin 20/1 5th 1st 1st 1st
Notes: By far the best car in all practice sessions, but downgraded due to 19.1 average finish in 11 starts.
4 Kevin Harvick 10/1 15th 7th 5th 7th
Notes: 2011 winner and runner-up in 2010; the Bakersfield, CA native is using a new chassis this week.
5 Jimmie Johnson 6/1 9th 10th 9th 6th
Notes: Five-time winner with track record 5.1 average finish; third or better in eight of last nine starts.
6 Kyle Busch 7/1 12th 2nd 6th 5th
Notes: 2005 winner, his first career Cup win, with nine top-10 finishes in 14 starts; strong practices.
7 Greg Biffle 12/1 8th 4th 14th 20th
Notes: 2005 winner; using new chassis he claims "the best car to ever come out of Roush-Fenway shop."
8 Jeff Gordon 8/1 23rd 21st 17th 2nd
Notes: Three-time winner, the last coming in 2004. Practiced very well in the sun, but slow under clouds.
9 Clint Bowyer 30/1 1st 11th 11th 3rd
Notes: 2010 fall runner-up with a 10.6 average in 11 starts. MWR driver will soon break through with win.
10 Ryan Newman 30/1 7th 6th 3rd 18th
Notes: Two consecutive fifth-place finishes; strong practice 2 long runs. Using '11 Michigan chassis.
Note: Although different in size, results the March 11 Las Vegas race can be used as a barometer to help determine what drivers may have an edge this week at California.
Odds courtesy of the LVH Super Book.
Betting Notes: Boy, this is a tough one. Denny Hamlin is just giving us all kinds of reasons to bet him to win and play him in every match-up. During practice he was fast in the shade, fast in the sun, fast in qualifying trim and fast in race trim. The guy should run away with the race, but the only problem is that we've never seen it before.
He won at Fontana's sister-track of Michigan last year, but at California he has a less than flattering 19.2 average finish with only one top-5. The biggest variable from now to all his past races is his new crew chief, Darian Grubb. Grubb was able to set-up a car for Tony Stewart to get his first career win on the track in 2010, 11 years after Stewart began his career. Grubb was also behind most of Jimmie Johnson's California success as part of the Lowe's team.
The Grubb angle is a huge one, especially since they've already won this season. The only problem I have personally is being gun shy about the sexiest in practice. The last three weeks Kasey Kahne has looked the best only to see his day cut short by an assortment of issues, mostly operator error.
What's funny is that I am not betting Kahne at all this week and he has a car good enough to compete for a win or top-5, but I'm tired of beating a dead horse. He will win soon, though.
I'm sticking with the meat-and-potatoes this week and will hope for Kenseth, Stewart, Harvick or Biffle to get the win. If some juicy odds come about on Bowyer or Newman, I may be tempted as well.
Match-up of the week: Michael Watrip Racing drivers vs. anyone, almost anyone
The MWR drivers are on a major upward trend. Clint Boywer, Martin Truex Jr and Mark Martin all have stout cars capable of finishing within the top-10, yet they'll be paired up with lesser drivers.