Tha Sports Junkies 101

PREVIEW: The Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway

NASCARMedia

NASCAR

This weekend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400. As this track surface has aged, it has put on some thrilling races. Last year saw Jimmie Johnson come from 3rd to 1st in overtime to take the win.

Larson Eyes a “W”

If you remove the crapshoot of Daytona, Kyle Larson has finished 2nd in each of the last 4 races dating back to 2016. Many will recall Larson’s battle with Kyle Busch in the closing laps at Auto Club speedway in 2014, where he ultimately wound up 2nd as well. After a lackluster 2015, Larson finally won in 2016, and is poised for big things in 2017. His prior successes both in 2017 and at this race track mean he’ll be one to watch on Sunday.

Kyle Busch Rights the Ship

In contrast to Larson, Kyle Busch’s 2017 season hasn’t yielded many positive results. Last week’s 3rd place finish was his first top-10 of the season. For a driver who traditionally gets off to a hot start, this is not a good sign. Auto Club Speedway presents itself at the perfect time for Busch, who has won 3 races here overall, and 2 in a row in 2013 and 2014. In fact, Busch has run well at Auto Club Speedway throughout his career. This weekend will be telling for the #18 team as they come to grips with Toyota’s new car and NASCAR’s new aero package.

RCR Continues it’s Resurgence

Ryan Newman’s victory last weekend was largely based on a timely caution flag and a gutsy call by his crew chief, Luke Lambert. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it was a fluke. RCR began it’s upswing in 2016, placing Austin Dillon in the playoffs, and the entire organization has shown improvement in 2017. The 3 car contingent of Newman, Dillon, and Paul Menard have consistently run in the top-15 thus far in 2017, and Dillon sat on the pole here a year ago. If RCR shows some speed in early practices this weekend, look for them to be solid on Sunday as well.

Auto Club Fantasy Insider

Along with the Kyles mentioned above, Harvick, Logano, Johnson, and Denny Hamlin all have rock-solid histories at Auto Club Speedway. Chase Elliott looks to be breaking into the mix as well, and ran exceptionally well at Auto Club’s sister track in Michigan. Ryan Blaney ran in or near the top-10 before a crash relegated him to a 35th place finish, and his team has shown great improvement in 2017. Avoid Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, as both are expensive but don’t show especially positive results at Auto Club Speedway.

Where to Watch

The Auto Club 400 coverage will begin at 3:30PM EDT on you local Fox affiliate.