Auto Club Fantasy NASCAR Top Tier Elite Picks
Auto Club Bottom Line – At Auto Club, Kyle Larson will be the favorite. Larson’s won here in the past, and in the more competitive #5, there’s no question he’ll be as well prepared as anybody could possibly be in such a race of unknowns as this one. One key attribute you have to love about Larson is how well he performed at high-wear intermediates in 2021, which will be a great early barometer for who’ll be strong. On Sunday, look for Larson to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
Auto Club Track History – Kyle Larson is a former winner at Auto Club who’s finished in the top two in 3 of his 7 starts. In 2020 at Auto Club, Larson likely had a great car, but he slammed into the wall on lap 34 after contact from Hamlin. On lap 27 which was shortly before his problem and his planned green flag pit stop, Larson was running in 6th. Due to his problem, Larson finished 21st. In 2019, Larson finished 12th, but you can get out an asterisk mark for that result. On lap 59, Stenhouse Jr. spun into him and Larson got a good bit of right-side damage after contact. At that time, Larson was running near the top ten. In 2018, Larson had a great car and finished runner-up despite his race not being incident free. On lap 38 while he was battling Kevin Harvick for 3rd they had contact and that led to Larson making a pit stop which dropped him back in the running order. It didn’t seem to impact him too much because he finished 6th in Stage #1. In Stage #2 he finished 8th. It should also be noted he earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In 2017, Kyle Larson was the class of the field and raced his way to victory lane. In the race he earned the best driver rating, led 110 laps, won Stage #1 and finished 2nd in Stage #2.
Recent High-Tire Wear Similar Track Success – Last year at high-wear intermediates, Kyle Larson ranked among the best. Over the combined events he had a 5.6 average finish (2nd best), the best average running position (5.0), the best driver rating, he averaged leading the most laps per race (86.0) and his Track Type Total Speed Ranking was the best.
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Auto Club Bottom Line – At Auto Club, Kyle Busch should be high on your fantasy NASCAR radar. Auto Club has long been one of his best tracks, and Busch already has a couple big wins here on his resume. Busch won his first race here in 2005, Busch won the first Auto Club race here with the Gen 6 car, and Busch also got win #200 here in 2019. Could winning with the Next Gen car be the next big win on his resume? On Sunday, look for Busch to be a top five contender who’ll be a factor to win.
Auto Club Track History – At Auto Club, Kyle Busch has performed at a super-elite level. At this worn-out oval, Busch is a four-time winner who’s finished in the top five 50% of the time, and in the top ten 72.7% of the time. Since 2011, Busch has 9 results in the top 3, one 8th, and then one asterisk mark 25th. Over the last three Auto Club races, Busch has results of 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Additionally over the last three races, Busch ranks #1 in the series in terms of average finish (2.0), average running position (4.5), driver rating, laps led per race (65.3) and fastest laps per race (33.3). When it comes to long run speed, Busch has ranked #1 in terms of Speed Late In A Run in both 2020 and 2019. In 2020 when the series most recently raced at Auto Club, Busch finished 10th in Stage #1, 7th in Stage #2 and then 2nd when the checkered flag waved. In terms of speed analytics, Busch of course was the Fastest Driver Late In A Run and had the 7th best Total Speed Ranking. In 2019, Busch was the class of the field. He finished 1st, won the first two Stages, earned a near perfect driver rating, led 134 laps and had a 3rd place average running position. Additionally, Busch ranked as the Fastest Driver Late In A Run and had the best Green Flag Speed. What makes Busch’s performance standout even more is that his race wasn’t incident free. Right after he won Stage #2, Busch was caught speeding on pit road. In 2018, Busch had a great car. He finished 3rd, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led 62 laps. Additionally, Busch finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 3rd in Stage #2.
Recent High-Tire Wear Similar Track Success – Last year at high-wear intermediates, Kyle Busch was without question one of the best. In 2021 minus Darlington #2 where he crashed, Busch had a 5.0 average finish.
Further recommended Reading: Auto Club 2020 Scouting Report, Auto Club 2020 Total Speed Rankings, Auto Club 2020 Speed Cheat Sheet, Total Speed Rankings At High-Tire Wear Tracks In 2021
Martin Truex Jr.
Auto Club Bottom Line – At Auto Club, Martin Truex Jr. will be one of the drivers to beat. He’s thrived at this big 2.0 mile oval, and he was also the premiere driver at high-wear intermediates in 2021. I think those two attributes are key for helping to predict who’ll show up with speed before the cars hit the track. I’ll also note, I think JGR will have an early edge on the competition at developing the Next Gen. On Sunday, look for Truex to be a top five contender who might just be a factor to win.
Auto Club Track History – At Auto Club, Martin Truex Jr. has performed at an elite level. Truex had one of the best cars in 2020 without a shadow of doubt (Asterisk Mark result), and in the three races prior to that he had 1 win and a 4.3 average finish. In 2020 at Auto Club, Truex easily had a top five car, but he walked away with a misleading 14th. In the race, Truex started 38th, finished 5th in Stage #2 and was running in 2nd on lap 161, but at that time he had a slow pit stop after a hand injury to one of his crewmen that ruined is afternoon and led to his misleading result. In the two segments prior to his slow stop that ruined his afternoon, Truex had the 3rd fastest car on the track (Total Speed Rankings). In 2019, Truex had a great car, but finished an asterisk mark 8th. In the race, Truex started deep in the field in 27th, but quickly advanced in the running order. On lap 59 while he was running near the top five, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun into Truex Jr. and the #19 got a good amount of right rear damage. Truex’s car was never the same after that, and prior to the incident he felt like he had a car that could’ve won. In 2018, Truex was the class of the field. He started on the pole, won Stage #1, won Stage #2, earned a perfect driver rating, led a race high 125 laps and of course finished 1st when the checkered flag waved. His margin of victory was 11.6 seconds! In 2017, Truex had a phenomenal car. 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, Truex was a lock to finish 2nd. Additionally, Truex finished 2nd in Stage #1, and won Stage #2.
Recent High-Tire Wear Similar Track Success – In 2021 at high-wear intermediates, nobody was better than Martin Truex Jr. Over the five combined races, Truex had 1 win, a series best 4.0 average finish, 4 top fives and he was the only driver who finished in the top ten every race. Additionally, Truex had the 2nd best driver rating, averaged leading the 2nd most laps per race (57.2) and his Track Type Total Speed Ranking was the 3rd best.
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