DraftKings: NASCAR Auto Club 400
DraftKings: NASCAR Auto Club 400

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Auto Club 400

Location: Fontana, Calif. 
Course: Auto Club Speedway 
Format: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval 
Laps: 200 

Race Preview

Kevin Harvick's magic touch at Phoenix failed to materialize and Kyle Busch took the helm to claim his first victory of 2019. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won the Xfinity series race the day before and carried that momentum into Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series race. Penske Racing was again a contender, but this time it was Ryan Blaney who was closest to scoring the win. Blaney led 94 of the 312 laps, which was second only to Busch's total. In four races we've seen four different winners and could likely see a fifth this week at Auto Club Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner at the circuit, and Kyle Larson won there in 2017. Both of those drivers finished in the top 10 in Phoenix and currently sit sixth and seventh in the series standings. Fantasy players shouldn't forget about Harvick, however. The former champion has been quick each week so far and just needs that pace to carry through an entire race distance. He won in Fontana in 2011 and has three top-10s and two top-fives from the first four races of the season.  

Key Stats at Auto Club Speedway 

  • Number of previous races: 29
  • Winners from pole: 3
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 11
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 16
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 7
  • Fastest race: 160.166 mph

Last 10 Fontana Winners 

2018 - Martin Truex Jr.
2017 - Kyle Larson
2016 - Jimmie Johnson
2015 - Brad Keselowski
2014 - Kyle Busch
2013 - Kyle Busch
2012 - Tony Stewart
2011 - Kevin Harvick
2010 fall - Tony Stewart
2010 spring - Jimmie Johnson

Fontana has become a much more interesting track in recent seasons as drivers have used the full width of the wide circuit to make plenty of passes and adjust to the characteristics of their cars throughout a fuel run. This season, the race will feature the complete new rules package with tapered spacers, a larger spoiler and aero ducts that theoretically should make that already great racing even closer. The new package has seen mixed results in the early weeks of the new season, and Sunday may be its biggest test. Speed and horsepower are essentials at Fontana, but with horsepower limited this weekend, it could bunch up the cars even more than we've seen so far. No manufacturer seems to have an edge at the circuit, and Ford's strength so far this season hasn't locked out Toyota. Chevrolet is still searching for its first win of the year, but Larson was sixth last week in Phoenix. Teams will likely concentrate a bit harder on race setup early in the weekend, which could mean some very fast drivers will start deeper in the field than expected. Still, much is unknown about how this week's race will play out, but the favorites are likely to remain the usual suspects. 

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kyle Busch - $12,600 
Kevin Harvick - $12,100 
Brad Keselowski - $11,500 

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Kyle Larson - $10,800 
Joey Logano - $10,400 
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,000 
Denny Hamlin - $9,400 

DraftKings Tier 3 Values 

Chase Elliott - $8,800 
Ryan Blaney - $8,400 
Erik Jones - $8,200 
Daniel Suarez - $8,00 

DraftKings Long-Shot Values 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,600 
Chris Buescher - $7,100 
William Byron - $6,900 
Daniel Hemric - $6,300 

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap) 

Kyle Larson - $10,800 
Chase Elliott - $8,800 
Ryan Blaney - $8,400 
Daniel Suarez - $8,000 
Austin Dillon - $7,400 
Daniel Hemric - $6,300 

Both lineups this week will avoid the odds-on favorites in favor of having more depth through the lineup. While Larson may not be the immediate favorite this week he has had a good start to the season and has been exceptional at Fontana and Michigan throughout his career. He won this race in 2017 leading 110 laps and finished second from a third-place start last season. Elliott has one top-10 finish so far this year but finished sixth and 10th in Fontana his first two tries. He also came from the 31st starting spot to finish 16th in this race last season and starts inside the top 10 on Sunday. The only remaining Penske Racing driver yet to win this season is Blaney and he'll be working overtime to change that. He has raced very well in all the races so far this season and just needs to close the deal. He finished ninth and eighth in his last two visits to this circuit. Suarez has slumped a bit since his 10th-place finish in Atlanta. He has one top-10 from two Fontana starts but should be capable of scoring another considering how this week's race is expected to be similar to Atlanta's. Richard Childress Racing took a big step forward in the offseason and make very capable additions to the bottom end of fantasy rosters this week with their upside potential, especially with Dillon on pole. Their early season speed should give them the edge at this particular track. 

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap) 

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,000 
Denny Hamlin - $9,400 
Kurt Busch - $9,100 
Erik Jones - $8,200 
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $7,600 
Darrell Wallace Jr. - $5,700 

Truex heads the higher-risk lineup for the second week in a row. He's come on strong at the end of races this season and just needs a lap or two more to grab that first win of the season. He has two runner-up finishes since Daytona and won this race from pole last year. Hamlin has yet to finish outside of the top-10 this season and finished sixth here last year. Similarly, Kurt Busch's only finish worse than 10th this season was at Daytona due to a crash. He won here back in 2003, and his new ride at Ganassi with teammate Larson should be a great combination here, too. Jones could also use a bit of luck, but his seventh-place finish in Atlanta should be a good indicator of what his potential is this week. He was seventh in this race last year. Quietly sitting 10th in the standings is Stenhouse The Roush Fenway Racing driver has a top-10 from last Vegas along with two other top-15s. He finished fifth in Fontana in 2016 and should be expected to turn in at least a top-15 this weekend. Finally, Wallace caps off the selection. He raced around the top 20 in his only Cup visit here last season, and doing so again would give him his best finish of the season so far. It would be a much-needed boost to give the team something to build from in the coming weeks. 

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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