Jimmie Johnson – Auto Club Speedway ranks as one of Jimmie Johnson’s best tracks. He’s a six-time winner who’s finished in the top five 54% percent of the time, and in the top ten 71% percent of the time. His Auto Club average finish is 7.2, at no other track is he better in that statistic. In 4 of the last 7 Auto Club races he’s finished between 9th to 12th. Last year, Johnson started deep in the field (33rd, never made a qualifying lap) but had no trouble advancing in the running order. He finished 5th in Stage #1, 7th in Stage #2 and finished 9th when the checkered flag waved. Additionally, he earned the 8th best driver rating and had an 11th place average running position. In 2017 he had a tough race. On lap #4 he damaged the nose of his car and after that he was no longer competitive which led to his 21st place finish. I wouldn’t read into that result any. In 2016 Johnson had a great Clasiq 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 after being hurt by the Green White Checker. This year at intermediate tracks his performances have been startling and he has results of 24th and 19th. On Sunday I would play it safe and view him as a mid-teens driver who’s capable of finishing marginally better.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – At Auto Club Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has finished between 15th to 22nd in 4 of his 6 starts. On Sunday I’m going to view him as a mid-teens driver. Over the last four Auto Club races he has a 15.0 average finish and an 18.0 average running position. Last year he didn’t have a race to brag about. He finished 18th and had a 20th place average running position. In 2017 he had a respectable showing but finished a misleading 22nd after being involved in an accident with 4 laps to go while running in the top fifteen. Additionally from the race it should be noted he had a 14th place average running position. In 2016 at Auto Club Speedway he had a strong showing. He finished 5th, had a 12th place average running position and ran 83.9% percent of the laps inside the top fifteen. In 2015 he finished 15th after taking advantage of some late cautions. This year at intermediate tracks he’s been fast. He finished 6th at Las Vegas and was a top ten contender at Atlanta but his race wasn’t incident free.
Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman is a quality dark horse option at Auto Club Speedway. At Auto Club Speedway running the high-line comes into play and and he’s one of the better drivers in the series at running that groove. At Auto Club, Bowman has three starts under his belt but only last years race carries fantasy relevance. In his two other starts back in 2015 and 2014 he simply wasn’t in a competitive situation. Last year in the #88 at Auto Club he was respectable. He finished 13th and had a 17th place average running position. When it was “closing time” in the race he consistently ran in the low-double digits. On Sunday at Auto Club I would look for him to be a low-double digits driver who has a good chance to compete for a top ten. This year at intermediate tracks he has results of 11th (Las Vegas) and 15th (Atlanta).