Martin Truex Jr. – Since his last top ten at Auto Club Speedway in 2008 his average finish is 24.3. That’s not a skewed number either because in these six races he only has one finish lower than 27th. He really hasn’t fared much better at the sister track either (Michigan). At Las Vegas Truex finished 17th but don’t overlook his 8th place average running position. At the mid point of the race he was in 6th.
Jamie McMurray – McMurray’s last top fifteen finish at Auto Club Speedway was in 2006. That’s ten races ago. This week the in terms of evaluating McMurray I think the best variable for predicting his finish will be how he ran Las Vegas (finished 8th, 12th place average running position). That was without question his best race on this track type since his 2010 win at Charlotte. This week I think McMurray is a low front runner / high mid pack projection driver.
Jeff Burton – At Las Vegas Burton started 22nd, ran in 14th place at the mid point and crossed the checkered flag in 14th. I think fantasy racers should expect the same out of him in the Auto Club 400. I do see lots of upside in Burton this week though. Last season he finished 10th at Homestead and led 27 laps at Texas before he ran out of gas (accomplishments at intermediate tracks late last season).
Paul Menard – In nine races at Auto Club Speedway Menard has never finished in the top fifteen. To be fair though he did finish sixteenth last year. His results at the sister track (Michigan) were mixed last year. He finished 4th in the early summer race and 26th in the late summer race. I think this race could go either way for him. If you pick him hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Want to do something risky this week? I think picking Junior at Auto Club Speedway could fit the bill. Since 2008 he has a 25th place average finish and a 24.3 average start. To top it off he’s also only led 3 laps in this time span and his driver rating is towards the bottom of the barrel (70.9). If you’re a Earnhardt Jr. fan there is hope. He was strong at Vegas and while he was upfront he was driving away from the field.
AJ Allmendinger – At Fontana I think you can pencil Allmendinger in for somewhere between 11th and 20th. In the three 2.0 mile intermediate races last year he finished 14th (Auto Club), 13th (MIS), and 11th (MIS). In his first intermediate track race for Penske Allmendinger was very competitive (top six) until his first pit stop of the race (overshot pit box, lost all track position). After that his day was basically over. Later on in the race he had fuel system issues and was forced behind the wall twice. Picking him this week might be risky since Brad Keselowski also had fuel issues at Vegas.
Joey Logano – In five races at Fontana Logano has a 16.2 average finish. After the lack luster performance he had a Las Vegas how can he not be considered a mid packer? Last year on intermediate tracks he accumulated the 26th most points and only finished in the top ten once (seventeen intermediate track races a year). Last year at Auto Club Logano finished 25th, but in the three previous races his finishes were 11th, 5th and 14th.
[toggle title_open=”Close Me” title_closed=”ifantasyrace research exclusive, Open Me” hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”default” excerpt_length=”0″ read_more_text=”Read More” read_less_text=”Read Less” include_excerpt_html=”no”]I contacted Joey Logano on twitter last week and asked him if there was concern with JGR’s performance at Las Vegas. He told me “yes we have had plenty of meetings to try to fix it”
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Kurt Busch – Busch thrived at intermediate tracks during his tenure with previous employers. At Las Vegas we really didn’t get to see a lot of him which is unfortunate. He ran competitive for the first 40 laps before he got trapped on pit road and went a lap down (caution) (Yahoo race chart). I’m going to predict he’ll finish as a mid pack driver in the Auto Club 400. Although he ran good for 40 laps you have to remember things often go down hill for him in the second half of races.