NASCAR Auto Club 400 Preview: Favored Kyle Busch Looks for 2 in a Row

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D.S. Williamson

March 16th, 2019

Kyle Busch goes for two straight when he and his NASCAR peers head to Fontana, CA for the 2019 Auto Club 400. Will Kyle find a pot of gold on Sunday? Or, will one of his competitors take the checkered flag?

2019 Auto Club 400 Favorites

Kyle Busch +400
Kevin Harvick +450
Brad Keselowski +600
Martin Truex Jr. +650
Joey Logano +700
Kyle Larson +700
 After starting fourth, Busch led 177 of 312 laps at Phoenix last Sunday. Kyle had been knocking on the door, finishing second at the Daytona 500, sixth at Atlanta, and third at Las Vegas. It was only a matter of time before he won.

Although Kyle deserves to be favored to win the 2019 Auto Club 400, he hasn’t taken the checkered flag in the race since winning back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. That makes Kyle an underlay at +400.

The two drivers to consider backing amongst the favorites are Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Truex Jr. won the race last year. He’s turned it around after the disastrous thirty-fifth place finish at Daytona, finishing second at Atlanta, eighth at Las Vegas, and second at Phoenix last week. At the +650 odds, he might be an overlay.

Larson deserves some mentioning as well after his sixth place finish at Phoenix last Sunday. Larson won the Auto Club 400 in 2017.

Which poses the question I assume you're here to answer - which driver do I back? Even though we’re getting slightly more value on Kyle than Martin, Truex Jr.’s ready to win his first of the year. He’s the favorite to back to take the checkered flag from where I stand.

2019 Auto Club 400 Free Pick: Martin Truex Jr.


Denny Hamlin +1600
Ryan Blaney +1800
Chase Elliott +2000
Aric Almirola +2000
Erik Jones +2200
Kurt Busch +2200
Clint Bowyer +2500
As always, there are a lot of ways to go in this category. Erik Jones raced well in the 2018 Auto Club 400, but Erik couldn’t get it going at Phoenix last week and ended up twenty-ninth.

Hamlin finished fifth at Phoenix while Kurt Busch finished seventh for his third straight Top 10 finish. It’s difficult to look past Denny and Kurt, but the driver that makes the most sense is Ryan Blaney at +1800.

Blaney won the pole in last Sunday’s race. He not only won the pole, but he also led 94 laps before yielding the lead. The Penske Championship Racing driver has a ton of upside because the third place finish at Phoenix came on the heels of twenty-second place finishes at both Atlanta and Phoenix.

Last year, Ryan finished eighth in this race. Even slight improvement could send him to the podium on Sunday.

2019 Auto Club 400 Pick: Ryan Blaney

2019 Auto Club 400Underdogs That Can Win

Alex Bowman +5000
Jimmie Johnson +5000
Austin Dillon +6600
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. +6600
It’s hard to know what’s going on at Hendrick Motorsports. They used to dominate, but, so far, they haven’t sniffed a victory. Yet, here we are again trying to determine if the greatest driver in NASCAR history, Jimmie Johnson, will finally get back to winning races.

The problem with backing Jimmie is that it’s obvious he and knew crew chief Kevin Meendering haven’t yet gotten on the same page. The problem with not backing Jimmie is that every time we think it’s easy to drop him from consideration he does something like finish in the top 10 at Phoenix.

Not only did Johnson finish eighth at Phoenix, he also led 4 laps after starting fifteenth. That’s decent improvement because the first 5 starters were Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski.

Jimmie won this race in 2016. He finished fifth in it last year. Of the underdogs who can take the checkered flag on Sunday, JJ once again deserves the nod.

2019 Auto Club 400 Pick: Jimmie Johnson

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