Victory Lane – Auto Club 400
By Tyler Miller – @rickybobby_jr
Clint Bowyer is on the pole for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Bowyer topped Jimmie Johnson by .007 seconds to win the 4th pole of his career. Martin Truex Jr. failed pre-qualifying inspection 3 times and did not get to qualify. Truex will start the race 38th. I think there are some strong contenders starting deep in the field as well as up front. In each of the past three years the race winner at Auto Club led over 100 laps. There is a lot to digest with this race, so let’s get started.
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,500/10,400) Missing qualifying and starting 38th, Martin Truex Jr. needs to be in your lineup on Sunday. This is a free square, don’t over-think it. Playing Truex has just as much to do with the fact that he was 3rd in both 10 and 15 lap average speed in final practice as it does with the fact that he’s starting dead last. Barring a crash, Truex should easily finish in the top 10, and be a threat to score the most DFS points on Sunday, particularly if no single driver dominates the race.
Joey Logano ($13,500/10,900) Joey Logano has the second fastest car at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. Logano was 2nd in 10 lap average and the fastest of the 20 cars that ran 15 consecutive laps in final practice. Logano has a strong history at Auto Club Speedway and is carrying over momentum from winning Las Vegas last weekend. Logano has never won at Auto Club Speedway but finished in the top 10 in 7 of his last 8 races with 6 of those in the top 5. Starting 7th, I think Logano is a great play and a lock for a top 5, probably a top 3 finish on Sunday.
Alex Bowman ($10,000/8,800) Alex Bowman has the best car at Auto Club this weekend. Bowman won both practices (single lap speed) and had the fastest 5 and 10 lap average in final practice. I think Bowman runs a clean race, leads dozens of laps and is in contention for the win. There is some risk associated with playing Bowman because he is starting 3rd, but I trust Bowman to stay out of trouble and he clearly has the fastest car in Fontana.
Ryan Blaney ($10,500/9,400) There are a number of cars who qualified outside the top 15 but ran inside the top 10 in final practice and Ryan Blaney tops that list. Blaney ran the 4th fastest 10 lap average, the 2nd fastest 15 lap average, and was the fastest of the 8 cars who ran 20 consecutive laps in final practice. While Blaney didn’t get the finish to show for it, he ran really well at Las Vegas and was in position to win the race before the final caution came out. I think Blaney is a great play on Sunday.
William Byron ($9,200/8,400) The sun came out during qualifying and heated up the track for drivers who had a late qualifying draw. This impacted William Byron because the seams in the race track heated up and Byron hit one in turn 2 and messed up his qualifying lap. Byron is starting 21st with a car that ran 5th in 5 lap and 6th in 10 lap average during final practice. I think Byron is a candidate for a top 10 finish under 10k with +10 differential upside.
Jimmie Johnson ($9,500/9,000) Jimmie Johnson did not have a fast car in practice but picked up 0.7 seconds in qualifying and will start on the front row. This is a home track for Jimmie Johnson and a win at Auto Club Speedway in his final season would be quite the story. There is a lot of risk to playing Johnson, but he showed speed last week and I think there is some potential for him to get out front and lead laps early on Sunday. Johnson has had success at this track in the past, with the highest driver rating, the highest average running position, and the most laps led of any active driver at Auto Club Speedway. He won 6 races at this track, most recently in 2016. I like Jimmie Johnson, but I don’t like the risk of negative differential points with the other options available on Sunday.
Tyler Reddick ($6,800/6,700) I like Tyler Reddick’s value on Sunday. Starting 19th, Reddick ran top 10 lap times in final practice. There is potential that Reddick doesn’t move forward during the race, but this is a track where he performed well in the Xfinity Series with finishes of 7th and 4th in 2 starts. I think Reddick is a sneaky good play for under 10k with top 10 potential. Even if Reddick finishes 15th-17th he is still a good play at his salary.
Corey LaJoie ($3,000/5,400) Corey Lajoie is my favorite value play this week. With a 3k price tag on Fan Duel, you don’t need to go any lower because he has a much better car than any of the drivers priced below him. LaJoie is starting 26th, so we are looking for a finish of 22nd or better which is realistic. I think LaJoie is the piece that can really help strong lineups fit together.
Ross Chastain ($6,500/6,500) I like Ross Chastain this week. I think we can feed off of everyone’s emotions from his poor performance at Las Vegas and get him at low ownership on Sunday. Chastain wasn’t particularly fast, but at his price and starting 27th, all you are looking for is a top 20 finish on Sunday. I was out on Chastain at this price last weekend, but with last week’s experience and a 27th place starting position he becomes a solid play this week.
Austin Dillon ($7,500/7,400) I think Austin Dillon is a good play this weekend. Dillon is starting 25th and his car showed top 15 speed in final practice. I think Dillon is a better play on Draft Kings than on Fan Duel because he has +10 differential potential but not necessarily top 10 potential. Also, with the extreme value that you can get with Core LaJoie on Fan Duel you don’t really need anyone in Dillon’s price range. In contrast, due to Draft King’s price structure you will need two or three drivers in the 6-8k range depending on who you play at the top.
My lineups will include a core of Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, and Alex Bowman. I like Corey LaJoie on Fan Duel as a value play. My tough decision is between Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson. On Draft Kings I am using the same core (Truex, Logano, and Bowman) with Tyler Reddick, Corey LaJoie, and Austin Dillon. Good luck to all our subscribers on Sunday!
Tyler Miller is a lifelong NASCAR enthusiast who spent five years as a producer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (2008-2013). Upon meeting his wife in Washington DC, Tyler became an Army spouse and left his career to move all over the country and help raise their two children. Tyler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Communication and Electronic Media Production from Ashland University and a Masters’ of Science in Marketing: Sports Marketing and Media, from Liberty University.