Kevin Harvick – Auto Club Speedway is Kevin Harvick’s home track and on Sunday he’ll be vying for his fourth straight win of the 2018 season. Can he win again? Absolutely! At both intermediate tracks visited this year he’s had the field covered and easily raced his way to victory lane. At Auto Club Harvick performs at an elite level and since 2010 in incident free races he’s been a lock for a top 7 result. In his last two Auto Club incident free races he’s finished runner-up. On Sunday I would look for Harvick to finish in the top five and compete for the win. Last year at Auto Club Speedway, Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line in 13th. There should be no fantasy takeaways from that race because his afternoon wasn’t incident free. As soon as the race went green he damaged the nose of his car and that greatly impacted his level of performance. Also, later he made an unexpected pit stop because of a tire issue. If there wasn’t a ton of late cautions he was likely poised to finish around 20th. In 2016 Harvick was the class of the field and if there wasn’t a late caution he would’ve won. In the race he earned the best driver rating, finished 2nd, led 142 laps and had a 4th place average running position. In 2015 he had a great car and once again finished runner-up. From that race it should be noted he had a 2nd place average running position, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 34 laps. Over long runs he probably had the fastest car on the track.
Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is an elite performer at Auto Club Speedway who’ll rank among the favorites. He’s a three-time winner who performs at an exceptionally high level. Since 2011 at Auto Club Speedway Busch has the best driver rating, best average finish (6.7), best average running position (4.5) and has led the most laps (368). In 4 of his last 6 races here he’s finished in the top 3. Last year at Auto Club Speedway Busch had a solid showing. He finished 8th, had a 6th place average running position and earned the 6th best driver rating. Joe Gibbs Racing was in a performance lull early in 2017 so that was pretty good. In 2016 he had a great car but finished a misleading 25th. He was easily top five strong but with 3 laps to go while he was running in 2nd he had a flat tire and got into the wall hard which brought out the Green-White-Checker. In 2015 he missed the race due to injury. In 2014 he had a good car and raced his way to victory lane after being the first driver off pit road during the GWC with four fresh tires. It should be noted that if there wasn’t a late caution he was likely poised to finish 4th. Additionally he earned the 2nd best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In 2013 Kyle Busch won after Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin took each other out. For much of the race his car was in a zip code of its own. He led 125 laps, had a 2nd place average running position and had a near perfect 148.0 driver rating. In the two Auto Club races prior to that he had results of 2nd and 3rd. This year at intermediate tracks Busch has results of 2nd (Las Vegas) and 7th (Atlanta).
Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. is the premiere intermediate track performer in the series and on Sunday he’ll be tough to beat. Last year at 2.0 mile ovals he was extremely strong. Over the combined three races at tracks of this length he scored the 2nd most points, had the second best average finish (4.0), the second best driver rating, led the second most laps (192) and had the best average running position (4.3). Last year at Auto Club Speedway, Truex Jr. had a phenomenal car and he was the only driver who could challenge Larson. When the race reached its conclusion he earned the 2nd best driver rating, finished 4th, had a 3rd place average running position and led 73 laps. If there wasn’t a late caution he was a lock to finish 2nd. Additionally he finished 2nd in Stage #1, and won Stage #2. In 2016 nobody had a more misleading result than him. In the race he was top five strong but finished a misleading 32nd after pounding the wall from contact with Joey Logano while battling for 5th with 51 laps to go. Additionally it should be noted he led 21 laps. In 2015 he finished 8th, earned the 10th best driver rating and had an 11th place average running position. This year at intermediate tracks Truex has results of 4th (Atlanta) and 5th (Las Vegas). On Sunday look for him to finish in the top five and compete for the win.