We make our first of two scheduled trips to California for the Auto Club 400, a race that debuted in 1997 and has finished under three hours in seven of the last eight years. We got back in victory lane last week, and while I forgot to add the odds to the article, Kyle Busch did hit at +350 odds. It’s time to get a streak going now that we have some races under our belt and a better feel of things.
Here are five drivers to consider throwing on this week’s card.
Martin Truex Jr., +650 - Martin Truex Jr. hasn’t produced a victory since July of last year, but he’s averaging a fourth place finish in his last three races and is the defending winner of this event. Truex has finished no worse than eighth in four of his last seven appearances at the Auto Club Speedway and has an average finish of 2.5 in his last two trips at this particular race. Truex has also tasted victory lane within the fist five races the last two years, so some would say he’s due. Either way, don’t be surprised if Truex becomes the fifth driver to win this race at least twice.
Jimmie Johnson, +5550 - Those who have followed along over the years know I love putting Jimmie Johnson on the card knowing he’s not going to produce a winner. The guy hasn’t won since Dover of 2017. Still, Johnson has been decent to start the season with two top-10 finishes in four tries, and his history in California can’t be overlooked. Johnson has not only won this race three times, most recently in 2016, but he has six wins at the Auto Club Speedway overall, and that doesn’t include many runner-ups and top-five finishes. Johnson has finished in the top-10 in 13 of his last 16 appearances at this track. He won’t win, but there’s a case to be made.
Kyle Busch, +500 - Kyle Busch won for us last week, and he’s now averaging a third place finish through his first four races this season. Busch is a two-time winner at this event and has finished third or better in five of his last seven appearances at the Auto Club Speedway overall. Busch is also one of those drivers who makes a habit of returning to victory lane once he tastes it, as he’s won back-to-back races three times since 2015, which includes three straight wins around this time last year.
Kyle Larson, +600 - Kyle Larson is a California kid and really enjoys this track, as he’s won here twice in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has either won it or finished runner-up in three of his five appearances in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Maybe it’s the home cooking or just something in the water, but there’s no doubt that Larson is extremely comfortable at the Auto Club Speedway. Expect him to be in the running for his first victory since the 2017 Federated Auto Parts 400.
Brad Keselowski, +650 - The last two times Brad Keselowski has finished outside of the top-10, he’s either won the following race or finished runner-up. That’s good news for Keselowski following a rough showing last week in Arizona. Keselowski won this race in 2015 and has an average finish of fourth place in his last four appearances at the Auto Club Speedway overall. Keselowski is consistently one of the best drivers on this track the last few years and he’ll be eager for a bounce back showing.