Since 2011 NASCAR has visited Auto Club Speedway only once per year. Without the frequent repetitions, fantasy players might expect that earning streaks would be difficult. That is not the case. Since 2011 six drivers have scored at least three consecutive top-10s. An equal number have streaks that are broken by only one race.
One reason for that is because the 2-mile tracks of Auto Club and Michigan International Speedway are among the closest comparatives NASCAR offers, which gives teams three events per year to amass a book of notes. Then named California Speedway, this track was literally built on the blueprint of Michigan and hosted its first race in 1997.
The other reason is because this is a track where drivers can control their own destiny. The corners are wide and sweeping, which allows a racer to find a groove that works for him without getting in too-close proximity to the competition. All three Team Penske drivers enter the weekend with at least three consecutive top-10s as do two of the Joe Gibbs Racers. This is a track that rewards experience and teamwork.
1. Kyle Busch
With two bad races to start the season, Busch is outside of playoff contention. It only takes a win to reverse all of that. Busch won last year's edition of this race.
2. Joey Logano
Logano has not yet won at Auto Club, but he has come close in the past four years with a sweep of the top five. He was second to Busch in this race last year.
3. Brad Keselowski
In the last 18 races on 2-mile tracks Keselowski has scored 14 top-10s for an average of 77.8% of the time. Odds are good he will add to that number this weekend.
4. Ryan Blaney
Las Vegas is a great track for Team Penske. So is Auto Club. Blaney enters the weekend with a three-race streak of top-10s and a best of fifth in last year's 400.
5. Kevin Harvick
When Harvick finds the setup at Auto Club he's great. He finished in the top five on five occasions in his last nine attempts. His other four races ended outside the top 10.
6. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex swept the top 10 on 2-mile tracks last year with a best of third in the FireKeepers Casino 400. He won the 2018 Auto Club 400 and should contend for a top five this week.
7. Kyle Larson
Larson scored six consecutive top-three finishes on 2-mile tracks from 2016 through 2018. He fell off after that, but rebounded to finish third last August at Michigan.
8. Denny Hamlin
Last week we pointed out how inconsistent Hamlin has been on 1.5-milers. He struggled all day and finished moderately at Vegas. He is much more consistent at Auto Club, with a worst of 14th in his last four attempts.
9. Chase Elliott
Elliott got off to a great start on 2-mile tracks with a six-race streak of top-10s and eight in his first nine attempts. Last year he was outside the top 10 in two of the three races on this course type.
10. Jimmie Johnson
Once upon a time, Johnson owned Auto Club Speedway. He has six wins there, including one as recently as 2016. Since then he's finished in the top 10 only once.
11. Austin Dillon
Dillon has finished 16th or better in nine of his last 11 attempts on 2-mile tracks, which makes him one of the most compelling mid-cap picks this week.
12. Kurt Busch
Busch had a seven-race, top-15 streak on 2-milers to his credit when he entered Michigan last August. If not for a fuel gamble that didn't pay off, he would have extended it by one.
13. Matt DiBenedetto
We suspected DiBenedetto would improve in the No. 21. Last week's runner-up was aided by strategy, but he challenged for a top-10 most of the afternoon.
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
It took some strategy to get his third-place finish last week and now that Stenhouse has a taste of success he will be hungrier than ever.
15. William Byron
It took six attempts before Byron cracked the top 10 on a 2-mile track. He is far more likely to finish somewhere in the mid- to low-teens this week.
16. Erik Jones
Jones has been uneven at Auto Club. He finished seventh there in 2018, but barely cracked the top 20 last year. There will undoubtedly be better places to start him.
17. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer had trouble in all three races on 2-mile tracks last year with DNFs in each. If he avoids an accident, he will be a better value than his numbers indicate.
18. Ross Chastain
Chastain has the speed in his No. 6 Ford. He can certainly get the most out of his ride. Now he needs to learn how to put a complete race together before he regularly contends for top-10s.
19. Alex Bowman
Hendrick Motorsports is strong on 2-mile tracks, but Bowman has not yet cracked the top 10 at Auto Club. Until he does, he is best left in the garage.
20. Chris Buescher
Roush Fenway Racing was once the undisputed master of 2-mile tracks. If they dig out their dusty old notes, Buescher could challenge for his first Auto Club top-15.
21. Ryan Preece
Preece was strong on the 2-mile tracks last year with a best of seventh in Michigan 2. He finished respectably in the Auto Club 400 with a 23rd after starting 26th.
22. Tyler Reddick
Reddick had a top-15 in sight last week at Las Vegas. With a little luck, he will get that result at Auto Club and then prepare to challenge for a top-10.
23. Aric Almirola
Almirola finished second last fall at Texas. Since then, he's been either 21st or 22nd in four races. Give him a week or two to find another groove.
24. JH Nemechek
Nemechek picked up at Vegas where he left off last year and scored his third top-25 on an unrestricted, intermediate speedway.
25. Cole Custer
Custer earned his first top-20 last week at Vegas. More will be coming and Auto Club is a track where Suarez ran well last year.
26. Christopher Bell
There are big expectations for Bell in the Cup series. That will make a rookie step over the line from time to time, but he still has a chance to dial it back in.
27. Daniel Suarez
There is no doubt that Suarez knows how to race on the 2-mile tracks. He swept the top 10 at Michigan last year and was 13th at Auto Club. Unfortunately he does not have the same resources in 2020.
28. Ty Dillon
Dillon has finished 27th or better in all but one of his 11 attempts on 2-mile tracks and that was because of an accident at Michigan in 2018.
29. Bubba Wallace
Wallace's 30th-place finish in last year's Auto Club 400 was the low point of his season on 2-milers. He improved at Michigan, but not by much with a best of 27th.
30. Michael McDowell
McDowell has been incredibly consistent on the 2-mile tracks during the past two years with results ranging from 22nd through 27th.
31. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie got off to a slow start on the 2-milers last year with a 31st in the Auto Club 400. He made up for it with a pair of low-20s finishes at Michigan.
32. Brennan Poole
There is not much to go on where Poole is concerned with only one unrestricted, intermediate speedway under his belt. So we will point out that he finished 29th last week.
33. Quin Houff
Houff did not start last year's Auto Club race, but he was actually a decent value at Michigan with a 32nd in June and a 31st.
34. JJ Yeley
Yeley hasn't been on a 2-mile track since 2015. That season, he finished 37th at Auto Club and 38th in both Michigan races.
35. Joey Gase
The only time Gase started a race on a 2-mile track was in last year's edition of the Auto Club 400. He finished 35th after starting 38th.
36. Reed Sorenson
In his last three attempts at Auto Club, Sorenson has finished 34th each time. His recent record at Michigan is almost exactly the same.
37. Garrett Smithley
Smithley has been in the last five races on 2-mile tracks. He finished 36th in last year's edition of this race.
38. Timmy Hill
Hill was not in last year's Auto Club 400. The last two times he was at the track, he ended his day 35th in 2017 and 33rd in 2018. Hill's last two Michigan races ended 35th and 37th.
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