2011 Auto Club Speedway Picks
The 2.0-mile track is usually known for long, green flag runs and the occasional fuel mileage finish. But this year the race has been shortened from 500 miles to 400, which should help keep the race from becoming a snooze fest and make drivers and crew chiefs change their strategy from in year’s past.
Jimmie Johnson has owned this track the last few years with four wins in his last seven starts. But we have noticed a chink in his armor this season and think he isn't the clear favorite to win this week. Roush Fenway Racing has dominated the 2-mile tracks in the past and thanks to a fast start in 2011, they are the team to beat this week with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth leading the way.
Carl Edwards 5/1
Carl Edwards had a bad season last year in California with a 13th in the spring and a 34th in the fall. But prior to last year, he had 10 top-10 finishes in his first 11 attempts at Auto Club and all of those finishes were seventh or higher, including one victory in 2008. Every week Edwards has been one of the fastest cars no matter the size or shape, with Las Vegas being his best race of the year. Auto Club Speedway is like Las Vegas in many ways and we think he will knock race favorite Jimmie Johnson off his throne.
Matt Kenseth 12/1
Matt Kenseth has shown a real fondness for Auto Club Speedway over the years with three wins (which leads all drivers but race favorite Jimmie Johnson). Kenseth has finished in the top 15 in 10 of his last 11 starts here and has finished seventh or better in nine of those 11 outings. With the resurgence of Roush Fenway Racing and the R9 engine, we think Kenseth will be up front and in contention all day.
Clint Bowyer 25/1
Richard Childress Racing has had a rough start to its season except for Paul Menard, who currently sits in fifth place in the standings. Bowyer has shown a fondness for Auto Club Speedway, with three straight top-10 finishes including a very good runner up finish in his last race here. It's one thing to run bad week after week, but Bowyer has run well despite finding some bad luck. We think he runs too well here to pass over at a very good price.