NASCAR AutoClub 400: Odds and Picks
With the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR season rolling right along and heading to Fontana, California this coming weekend, the big question that auto racing bettors need to know is, ‘will anyone stop Kevin Harvick from winning again?
Harvick has won the last three weeks to become just the 29th driver in modern history to win three straight races. Winning four in a row, however, is far more difficult with only eight drivers ever pulling off the feat with the last time being in 2007 when Jimmie Johnson did it. Harvick will try to join that select group Sunday on a course that just so happens to be his home track. Let’s review some NASCAR odds and picks for this event.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 16, 2018
What: Auto Club 400
When: Sunday, March 18, 2018, t 3:30 ET
Where: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
Distance: 400 miles (643.737 km)
Laps: 200 (Stage 1: 60, Stage 2: 60, Stage 3: 80)
Last 10 Winners
2017: Kyle Larson
2015: Brad Keselowski
2014: Kyle Busch
2013: Kyle Busch
2012: Tony Stewart
2011: Kevin Harvick
2010: Jimmie Johnson
2009: Matt Kenseth
2008: Carl Edwards
AutoClub 400 Odds
Kevin Harvick +350
Kyle Busch +500
Kyle Larson +400
Martin Truex Jr +500
Brad Keselowski +1000
Joey Logano +1200
Chase Elliott +1500
Denny Hamlin +1500
Ryan Blaney +1800
Jimmie Johnson +2500
Harvick won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta on Feb. 25, then followed that up by winning the Pennzoil 400 on March 4 in Las Vegas and then the TicketGuardian last weekend in Phoenix.
“They’re certainly good,” said Kyle Busch, who has finished second behind Harvick the past two weeks. “They have kind of picked up right where they left off and we beat them at Homestead. They’ve been right there each and every week, so far. You’ve gone to three of arguably his best racetracks these past three weeks. They got the job done where they needed to. Ask me again in August, but not next week.”
Harvick won at Fontana in 2011 and dominated at Las Vegas at Atlanta on similar tracks that require lots of horsepowers, just like Fontana. 2017 NASCAR champion Martin Turex Jr. won on seven of the 11 1.5-mile tracks last season but didn’t come close to defeating Harvick at Atlanta or Vegas. His fourth-place finish last season was his first top-five finish at Fontana.
“I feel Fontana has been a good track for us over the years but we just haven’t capitalized on our performance there,” Truex noted. “We’re right there. It’s like when you’re out fishing and you catch a bunch of fish and you feel like you’re throwing the right lure, but maybe it’s just not the right color – we need to get it dialed in. We’re so close.”
Most Career Wins (By Driver) at Auto Club 400
1997, 1999, 2004: Jeff Gordon (3)
2006, 2007, 2009: Matt Kenseth (3)
2002, 2010, 2016: Jimmie Johnson (3)
2013, 2014: Kyle Busch (2)
Three-time Fontana winner Kyle Busch is expected to contend this coming weekend because of his past success on what is a difficult track to figure out. His last six starts at Fontana have produced a third-place, runner-up, and winner, 25th and eighth last year.
“That place is tough,” Busch said. “It’s really a hard racetrack to get a hold of, now, especially when it’s hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove. You can run from the top to the bottom but, when you run the bottom, you really feel like you’re puttering around the racetrack. You feel like you aren’t making up any time on the bottom. But when you are running the top groove, you feel like you’re getting the job done. The guys who run the bottom have a little bit more patience and handle it better than the guys who are on the gas on top.”
Most Career Wins (By Team) at Auto Club 400
1998, 2003, 2005-2009: Roush Fenway Racing (7)
1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2016: Hendrick Motorsports (6)
2000, 2001, 2015: Team Penske (3)
2013, 2014: Joe Gibbs Racing (2)
Of current NASCAR drivers, only Jimmie Johnson has been better than Busch’s three wins and 611 laps led.
“Yes, we have had a lot of success in California and our expectations are really high,” Johnson said. “We went to Atlanta having a ton of past success and had a tough day. We are chipping away every week and finding speed. Last week wasn’t the result we wanted, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Huge props to my Lowe’s for Pros team. You never forget the site of your first win, I love going ‘home’ and seeing familiar faces.”
The best long shots to win this week are Harvick’s Stewart Haas Racing teammates, beginning with Clint Bowyer who was third at Fontana. Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola should also find themselves winning somewhere this season. They know Harvick’s secret to finding speed or at least have read a few chapters of the book.
This week, I’m going with Martin Truex Jr. to snap Kevin Harvick’s winning ways if only because of the vast success he had a year ago on similar tracks, combined with the fact that he’s not off to a bad start this year. I’m going with Kyle Busch second because of his strong outings this year and Harvick third. Here are my top five picks.
Top Five Prediction Finish
1) n#78 Martin Truex Jr. (7/1)
2) #18 Kyle Busch (5/1)
3) #4 Kevin Harvick (3/1)
4) #42 Kyle Larson (4/1)
5) #14 Clint Bowyer (40/1)