DraftKings NASCAR: Auto Club 400
DraftKings NASCAR: Auto Club 400

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Auto Club 400

Location: Fontana, Calif.

Course: Auto Club Speedway

Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval

Laps: 200

Race Preview

Just as Denny Hamlin repeated his victory from a year ago in the Daytona 500, Joey Logano did the same last week in Las Vegas. He and the rest of the Ford machines used their advantage to run up front most of the race distance, capturing four of the top 10 finishing positions after a late caution jumbled the order as some leaders chose to pit while others did not. It was a difficult week for Toyota, though. The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates all missed portions of practice for inspection violations, and Martin Truex Jr. seemed to be the only Toyota drive in with a chance at the top of the field once the race got underway. Kyle Busch ended the day as the highest finisher for the manufacturer in a lowly 15th position. Toyota appears to have some work to do to get back on level terms with Ford and Chevrolet, but Kyle Busch has been one of the best drivers at this week's circuit. Busch won last year's Auto Club 400 ahead of four Fords that rounded out the top five. Busch led 134 of the 200 laps in a dominating performance, though. He has four wins from 21 starts at the track and Toyota has won each of the last two trips to Auto Club Speedway.

Key Stats at Auto Club Speedway

  • Number of previous races: 30
  • Winners from pole: 3
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 12
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 16
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
  • Fastest race: 160.166 mph

Previous 10 Fontana Winners

2019 - Kyle Busch

2018 - Martin Truex Jr.

2017 - Kyle Larson

2016 - Jimmie Johnson

2015 - Brad Keselowski

2014 - Kyle Busch

2013 - Kyle Busch

2012 - Tony Stewart

2011 - Kevin Harvick

2010 fall - Tony Stewart

Auto Club Speedway is a high-speed 2.0-mile long D-shaped oval. Horsepower is a big differentiator on the track's long straights. The wide range of lines to take through the circuit's turns offer drivers plenty of options to move around to find the best line. As the cars change throughout the race drivers will use a mix of the bottom, top, and middle to maximize speed down the long front straight. Passing can happen anywhere on the track. Despite the high speeds and tire issues we've seen at the track in the past, the last two races saw just one non-finisher each. Low attrition means any mistakes can make the difference between a top-10 and finishing outside of the top 25. Track position and restarts will be imperative, just as they were in deciding last week's race, as drivers and teams will have to weigh the benefit of fresh tires over position on track on every stop under caution. The track's wide surface will make fending off drivers coming quickly from behind much more difficult that last week at Las Vegas, which will place extra emphasis on making the right calls on pit road as the race draws to a finish. Still, fantasy owners should look closely at 10-lap average speed charts when finalizing their rosters this week.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kevin Harvick - $11,600

Kyle Busch - $11,300

Joey Logano - $10,900

Brad Keselowski - $10,000

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Chase Elliott - $9,800

Ryan Blaney - $9,400

Denny Hamlin - $9,200

Jimmie Johnson - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Alex Bowman - $8,800

Kurt Busch - $8,600

William Byron - $8,400

Erik Jones - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Matt DiBenedetto - $7,600

Chris Buescher - $7,200

Cole Custer - $6,900

John Hunter Nemechek - $5,700

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Ryan Blaney - $9,400

Denny Hamlin - $9,200

Jimmie Johnson - $9,000

Alex Bowman - $8,800

Cole Custer - $6,900

Tyler Reddick - $6,700

With a little luck Ryan Blaney could have already had two wins so far this season. He leads the points total with back-to-back runner-up finishes and has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three Fontana races. Denny Hamlin does already have a win this season but would like to also add one to his record at this track. He finished seventh or better in three of the last four races at this track and appears to have some of the issues that plagued him in Las Vegas in the rearview mirror. Jimmie Johnson continues to show improvement over his recent struggles in this final season. His most recent of six Fontana wins came in 2016. He has also finished every lap he has raced at the track. Alex Bowman was one of the fastest cars in opening practice on Friday. That early speed should allow him the opportunity to score his best finish at this track on Sunday. He will be aiming for a top-10 finish. Auto Club Speedway is Cole Custer's home track, and this week's race will be his Cup series debut at the venue. He won the Xfinity series race at this track last season ahead of Kyle Busch. Rounding out the lower-risk lineup option is Tyler Reddick, who finished fourth and seventh in his two Xfinity series visits to this track. He was third fastest in Friday's opening practice. Martin Truex Jr. could also be a good selection this week as he will start from the rear after tire problems and not taking part in qualifying.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,600

Chase Elliott - $9,800

Erik Jones - $8,100

Austin Dillon - $7,400

Chris Buescher - $7,200

John Hunter Nemechek - $5,700

Kevin Harvick is the early favorite to win the Auto Club 400 Sunday. His lone victory at the circuit came in 2011 but he had back-to-back second-place finishes in 2015 and 2016. He also finished fourth here last year. Chase Elliott has two top-10 Fontana finishes, and hasn't finished worse than 16th here in his four years in the series. Another top fantasy option this week is Erik Jones, who finished seventh at Fontana in 2018. He was 19th in last year's race but offers good value for those looking for upside potential this week. Austin Dillon could easily be overlooked this week but shouldn't be. He has two top-10 finishes from six starts at the track and started from pole twice, too. Chris Buescher currently sits ninth in the championship standings and is looking like a regular top-15 finisher this season. His best finish at this track came last season when he was 16th. Finishing out this week's selections is John Hunter Nemechek. He has shown speed despite being a rookie in an under-funded team. He has two races at this track under his belt in the Xfinity series and started inside the top 10 in both before suffering trouble in both races. He is another inexpensive option with the potential for significant upside in finish differential.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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