Jimmie Johnson – Auto Club Speedway has been an awesome track for Jimmie Johnson. At this venue he’s a six-time winner who’s finished in the top five 57% percent of the time, and in the top ten 70% percent of the time. His Auto Club average finish is 7.1, at no other track is he better in that statistic. On Sunday I would look for Johnson to compete for a top ten, despite his ongoing slump. Last year at Auto Club Speedway, Johnson damaged the nose of his car on lap #4 after he ran into the back of Keselowski and after that you could stick a fork in him because he was no longer competitive. That led to his misleading 21st place finish. In 2016 Johnson had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. His car was fast over long runs and short runs. In that race he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position and led 25 laps. It should be noted if it wasn’t for the late caution he wouldn’t have won, with 4 laps to go he was running in 6th. In 2015 he was top five strong but finished 9th. The GWC at the end hurt him. Additionally in the race he earned the 4th best driver rating and had a 7th place average running position. In 2014 Johnson was dominate and he likely would’ve won if he didn’t have a flat tire while leading with 7 laps to go. In that race he earned the best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led more than half the race (104 laps).
Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola has dark horse fantasy NASCAR potential at Auto Club Speedway. This year in his new #10 ride he’s run well at intermediate tracks. He finished 13th at Atlanta and 10th at Las Vegas. On Sunday I would look for him to be a low-double digits driver who’ll compete for a top ten. At Auto Club, Almirola has a poor track record, but I don’t consider it all that relevant since he’s in a more competitive situation. In the last two Auto Club races he’s had results of 19th and 21st.
Jamie McMurray – Jamie McMurray should have a good afternoon at Auto Club Speedway. He’s a good performer at intermediate tracks and has been particularly strong at 2.0 mile ovals. Since 2016 at 2.0 mile ovals he’s finished in the top ten every race and has a 7.8 average finish. At Auto Club Speedway McMurray has run well. In 3 of the last 4 races at this west coast track he’s finished in the top ten. Last year he had a strong showing and ran well throughout the event. When the checkered flag waved he finished 6th, had a 6th place average running position and earned the 5th best driver rating. Additionally he finished 4th in Stage #1 and 6th in Stage #2. When he was asked about his car on lap 54 while he was in 4th he thought that him and Larson had the best cars over long runs. In 2016 at Auto Club Speedway he started 10th, finished 10th and had a 16th place average running position. In 2015 he never ran well and finished 21st. In 2014 he crossed the finish line in 6th. On Sunday at Auto Club Speedway I would look for McMurray to compete for a top ten. 2018 hasn’t been a smooth season for McMurray but on Sunday I think he has a good chance to compete for a top ten.