NASCAR Picks for Auto Club
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Since finishing second in both races at ACS in 2009, Gordon has had modest results at the track. He has finished outside the top 15 in three of his last four starts in Fontana, compiling an 18.3 average finish. Gordon is more than capable of a solid showing, but don't be surprised if he underwhelms just a bit.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He has just a 17.6 average finish at Auto Club Speedway for his career, but Newman has been in a groove lately. He has ripped off three straight finishes of seventh or better at the track, logging a pair of top-five finishes during the stretch. Given his recent hot stretch in Fontana, Newman has plenty of potential this weekend, especially as a B-List option in Yahoo! leagues.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Busch has always run well in Fontana, compiling a 12.7 average finish in 19 starts and winning a race at the track. More importantly, he managed a top-10 at ACS last year while driving for Phoenix Racing. Busch is fresh off a strong top-five run at Bristol, and he could keep the momentum going this weekend at one of his better tracks. Owners should consider him a solid sleeper pick.
Mark Martin, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The veteran has three finishes of sixth or better in his last five starts at ACS, but he has finished 20th and 12th in his last two outings a the track. His recent numbers are probably a better indicator of what to expect Sunday, and while Martin could sneak into the top 10, a top-15 run is a more reasonable expectation.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
On one hand, Truex has a 20.1 average finish at ACS and has finished outside the top 15 in eight of his 12 starts at the track. On the plus side, one of his three top-10s at the track came just last season when he finished eighth. Still, fantasy owners may want to make him prove that last year's run wasn't a fluke given his overall lack of success in Fontana.
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Menard is off to a solid start, and it could continue this weekend at a track where he has been improving lately. He has finished in the top 20 in three of his last four starts at ACS, including two straight. Expect more of the same this weekend, making Menard a solid option to round out fantasy rosters in most formats.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class C]
The rookie is quickly establishing himself as a reliable fantasy option, opening 2013 with four finishes of 18th or better. He should be a safe bet for a top-20 finish this weekend, and he could even be in line for a career day considering the success Roush Fenway Racing has had at Auto Club Speedway over the years. Owners should have Stenhouse on the short list of strong sleeper options.
A.J. Allmendinger, #47 Kingsford/Clorox, JTG Daugherty Racing [Yahoo Class C]
He looks like a completely different driver than he did with Phoenix Racing at the end of 2012, and with finishes of 11th and 13th in his two starts this season, Allmendinger is reestablishing his fantasy value. With back-to-back top-15 finishes at ACS, another useful effort could be on tap for Sunday.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Logano's numbers haven't been terrible this year, but they haven't been overly impressive either. The same can be said about his numbers at ACS, where he has three top-15s and three finishes outside the top 20 in six starts. Logano could have a respectable showing this weekend, but he is more likely to hurt lineups than he is to be a difference maker.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
After opening his Cup career with five top-10s in his first six starts at ACS, McMurray has gone 12 starts without even cracking the top 15. At this point, it seems unlikely he will ever recapture his early form, severely limiting his upside as a fantasy option. A top-20 is probably the best you will get out of him in Fontana.
Aric Almirola, #43 Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
Sunday's race will be a good measuring stick for Almirola. In five starts at ACS, he has compiled a dismal 32.8 average finish and has never finished better than 25th. I wouldn't be surprised to see him best that result this weekend, but a wait-and-see approach is definitely recommended.
Jeff Burton, #31 Caterpillar/Cheerios, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Since leaving Roush Fenway Racing, Burton's numbers at ACS have suffered. He has just a single top-10 finish in his last eight starts at the track, and he has finished outside the top 15 five times during the stretch. Owners are basically taking a shot in the dark by trusting Burton.
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