Auto Club 400 Fantasy NASCAR Front Runners
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Kevin Harvick – Harvick is the defending champion at Auto Club Speedway.  His next three most recent finishes are 7th, 2nd and 10th. Remember the last lap pass he pulled off on “Top Tier Elite Pick driver” Jimmie Johnson last year? Forgot it, well here’s the video. Harvick should be on your short list of picks for the Auto Club 400.

Brad Keselowski – In his three races at Auto Club Speedway Brad Keselowski has finished 21st, 26th and 26th. I wouldn’t exactly call that a good track history. His overall track history is also terrible at Michigan. His average finish before his ankle injury on 2.0 mile intermediates is 26.1. His one finish on a 2.0 mile intermediate since he injured himself was a 3rd at Michigan. At Las Vegas two weeks ago he looked pretty good but late fuel issues did him in. Another thing I liked about him in that race was that he overcame an early speeding penalty. In fantasy NASCAR I like drivers who can overcome problems.

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Ryan Newman – Newman was without question one of the best 2.0 mile intermediate track drivers last year. In the three 2.0 mile races he finished 5th, 6th and 5th.  On this intermediate track sub group only Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth scored more points than him. Perhaps one of the biggest pluses about picking Newman was his strong showing at Las Vegas. In that race he finished 4th and had a 10th place average running position.

Jeff Gordon – I don’t know if Jeff Gordon has a home field advantage or not at Auto Club Speedway because it seems like he has a couple of home tracks. Since 2008 Jeff Gordon has four top tens and three finishes between 15th and 20th at Fontana. In these COT races his driver rating (104.5) is a distant second to Jimmie Johnson. Some other impressive loop data stats of his since 2008 are his 8.4 average running position (second best) and 9.9 average finish.

Clint Bowyer – Clint Bowyer has finished in the top the last four races at Auto Club Speedway. I feel very strongly he would’ve won the 2010 fall race but a late untimely caution was his undoing (conspiracy anyone?). In both races at Michigan last year he finished 8th. Bowyer isn’t piloting a RCR car any longer but I still think he has the ponies under his hood to be good in the Auto Club 400. Last year Red Bull used the same engines that MWR uses and both Vickers and Kahne finished in the top ten.

Mark Martin – Last year Martin finished 20th at Auto Club Speedway but his next three most recent finishes are 4th, 4th and 6th. Mark Martin is always a reliable fantasy option at intermediate tracks and I don’t expect anything to be different in the Auto Club 400. At Las Vegas Martin had a top ten car but late damage from a run in with Dale Earnhardt Jr. relegated him to a 18th place finish.

Kasey Kahne – When Kasey Kahne doesn’t have problems at Auto Club Speedway he’s a lock for a top ten finish. In fifteen races he has one win and nine top tens. In his last two races here he’s finished 4th and 9th. Kahne was coming on strong at the end of the race at Las Vegas so there should be no question he’ll be good. Look for Kasey Kahne to be a threat to win the pole. I also think Kasey Kahne would be a great sleeper pick this week because he’s wrecked every week and people are temporarily jumping off his bandwagon.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin is a good 2.0 mile intermediate track driver. Proof of this is his 2010 & 2011 wins at Michigan (sister track). Last year at Auto Club Hamlin finished 39th, luckily he won’t be using JGR motors anymore. Before he blew up he was doing pretty good. Just check out his Yahoo! race chart. I will add that I’m a little concerned with his 20th place finish at Las Vegas.

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Top Tier Elite > Front Runners > Mid Pack Projections > Drivers To Avoid