We’re on to race #5 of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with the Auto Club 400 on Sunday. Auto Club Speedway–often referred to as Fontana, since the track is based in Fontana, California–is a 2-mile oval that, since 2011, we visit once per season, always in March.
Wind and timing have been major factors so far this weekend, as no driver made a lap in the final round of qualifying on Friday due to awful timing by the teams, while high winds caused some havoc for these race teams during the two practice sessions here on Saturday. It is not expected to be nearly as windy during the Auto Club 400 on Sunday. Another thing to note about those practice sessions is that both were cooler than the temperatures we’ll see on race day. Happy Hour was a little closer to race temps (about 10 degrees cooler) but Practice #2 was much colder.
Here are some helpful links to the practice speeds from this weekend:
DraftKings Strategy Tactics for Fontana
Try not to get too caught up in starting position this weekend. Yes, the last two Fontana races have ended with the pole sitter in victory lane, but at the same time, those two guys were Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Larson–heavy hitters in the sport. This weekend we have Austin Dillon on the pole, and although he has all of the talent in the world (sarcasm), he’s not going to win this race. He might not even lead the first lap.
Looking at the last five races at Auto Club Speedway, we’ve seen at least three top 10 finishers start from outside of the top 10 in each of those races, with the 2014 event being the “best” in terms of place differential, as eight of the top ten finishers started 11th or worse. We typically see two dominators here at Fontana, and although there’s some mystery surrounding the drafting and the new package this weekend, I’m not expecting much change there.
In terms of track type, Fontana and Michigan are sister tracks, so not only will you see me mention both pretty frequently in this article, I’d recommend looking into stats from the Michigan races as well. We hit that place twice a year, as opposed to Fontana once per year. One thing worth noting: fastest laps pretty much go to the same four guys at this track type. Over the last two years, Martin Truex, Jr. is leading the way with 38.5 fastest laps per race on 2-mile tracks, followed by Kyle Busch (20.5), Kevin Harvick (20), and Kyle Larson (15.5). Those are the only four averaging double-digits in ten lap average.
GPP Drivers I Love for the Auto Club 400
Kyle Busch ($12,600) – Now, remember, I am not great at predicting ownership percentages in DraftKings, but with Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,000) sitting there as the chalk play for place differential, and Kurt Busch ($9,100) in that category as well with a decently-sized price tag, there’s a good chance a lot of people are going to go in a different direction in terms of dominator instead of Kyle Busch. All three Penske cars are significantly cheaper than Rowdy this weekend, and Joey Logano ($10,400) is a good pivot in terms of dominator potential. However, let’s not forget how easy Kyle Busch could dominate this race on Sunday. Busch owns the best average finish on 2-mile tracks over the last two years (5.8), along with the best average running position (5.8), and is second to only Martin Truex, Jr. in terms of fastest laps per race on this track type (Truex has 38.5 per race, Busch has 20.5 per race). Kyle is a three-time winner here at Fontana and has finished 3rd or better in five of his last seven starts at this track. He missed out on win #200 in the Xfinity race here on Saturday, but is probably going to be heading into Sunday as the favorite. That typically means a great day for fantasy owners. I like having Kyle Busch in a significant number of my lineups, probably close to 40-50%.
Erik Jones ($8,200) – I love Erik Jones as a pivot off of both Ryan Blaney ($8,400) and Daniel Suarez ($8,000) this weekend. Both of those two drivers should be higher-owned that Jones on Sunday, as Blaney had one of the best cars during both practice sessions on Saturday, and Suarez starts a couple places further back than Jones and comes at a small discount. And while I do think Ryan Blaney is going to be a great Fantasy NASCAR pick overall on Sunday, there is a possibility that he goes over-owned. Remember, it’s typically not guys like Ryan Blaney that get dominator points, and with the #12 Ford starting in 10th, it’s going to take a top 5 finish from Blaney in order to make that the best pick. Erik Jones, on the other hand, starts back in 18th and sneakily showed some speed on Saturday, posting the 5th-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour and also the best 15-lap average. Jones had an average finish of 11.7 on the 2-mile tracks last year and that average result bumps up to 10.5 when you include the 2017 season. Finally, for what it’s worth, the Fantasy Racing Online algorithm has Jones ranked 9th heading into Sunday while Blaney is back in 16th and Suarez is back in 18th.
GPP Fade Options for Auto Club
We’ll go ahead and start with the drivers I see as full fade options this weekend, as they are either too-high-priced and/or qualified too high: Chris Buescher ($7,100) and David Ragan ($5,900). I’ll go ahead and fully fade the back marker cars as well because, holy shit, they’re bad: BJ McLeod ($5,100), Reed Sorenson ($5,000), Joey Gase ($4,900), Cody Ware ($4,800), and Garrett Smithley ($4,700). Just to put it into perspective how bad those guys are: Joey Gase was almost 20 mph slower than the leader in final practice. Obviously those guys could end up with a decent amount of points if there’s a bunch of wrecks on Sunday, but I don’t see that happening.
Denny Hamlin ($9,400) – You won’t find any lineups of mine with Denny Hamlin on them on Sunday. The #11 Toyota qualified 6th for this weekend’s Auto Club 400, and while I do not doubt that Hamlin could maintain that position and come home with a solid top 10 finish, there’s no way I’m wasting $9,400 worth of cap space on a guy that’s going to give me a mid-30s DraftKings points day with limited dominator potential. There are literally nine other drivers that are more likely to put up dominator points than Denny Hamlin, and they’re not all wrecking. Denny has made 17 career starts at Auto Club Speedway and has just two top 5 finishes to his credit, in 2016 and in 2008.
Fontana Auto Club 400 DraftKings Projections
You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||27||$10,000||67.7||05.4||0||15||$148|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||12||$7,600||20.0||18.0||0||0||$380|