California! Auto Club Speedway is big, fast, and slick! I will be the first to admit that 5 to 7 years ago I hated the racing and Fontana. They were my least favorite dates on the schedule, but things have changed. It’s now one of the most exciting races of the year. I enjoy seeing the cars go five wide on the restarts – it allows for late race passes and exciting race finishes.
This week we need to focus on overall speed. While California is often unpredictable, you can find drivers who have a major advantage and that is a fast car.
These are the guys that are the cornerstone of your roster. Chances are you can only afford one so you have to choose wisely! Who will have the most fastest laps, laps led, and lead the last lap? That is your main concern with this group.
Kyle Larson: Hands down the best car on the track this weekend. Kyle Larson is my prediction to win the race. He’s starting first after a red-hot qualifying effort. I think he will lead the most laps and also rack up a ton of fast laps. Larson is a must have on your roster this weekend.
Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been on my list nearly every week this season. The team is HOT right now. Brad has always performed well in streaks and I think he’s in his groove right now. He hasn’t shown chart topping speed, but through practice and qualifying he’s been consistently fast. I think Keselowski is the only driver that can challenge Kyle Larson for the win.
Joey Logano: Joey missed qualifying! What does that mean for you? He’s starting at the back and has an awesome car. In the earlier Xfinity race, Logano drove through the field twice and nearly beat Larson to the checkered flag. He’ll do the same tomorrow. 5th in practice 1, 6th in practice three, Logano will not be held back.
The Role Players
These drivers are the bulk of your line up. The mid range drivers are the ones who are going to win you your league. The best strategy with these guys are to pick the drivers who are starting back in the pack but you know they don’t belong there and will unlikely finish there. Every car they pass is worth valuable points to your overall total.
Erik Jones: This kid will not be in the “role player” price range in a few more weeks so get him while he’s cheap! Erik Jones is performing much like Chase Elliott last year. He’s been quiet and he’s been smart. He doesn’t push the car beyond its means. He keeps the car safe and he contends for top 5’s and top 10’s at the end. Jones was 4th in final practice and he qualified 14th. Chances are he’ll finish well and gain you a few position points.
Ryan Blaney: Blaney qualified 19th but was 8th fastest in practice 2, and 3rd fastest in practice 3. If Blaney can keep the car clean he will gain positions and be worth a decent amount of points.
Clint Bowyer: I am least confident about Bowyer. He hasn’t shown much promise all weekend long. I do like his 17 place starting spot. Bowyer has done a good job so far of finishing well this season I think he’ll move up as the day goes on and may even score a top ten finish.
The Value Drivers
These are the guys who are below $18. They help you afford the Contender and give you breathing room with your Role Players. These drivers still play a huge role and can make the difference in a solid points day vs. a victory.
Aric Almirola: Aric has done a very good job of attaining points through positions gains over the course of the race. I don’t think he’ll do any different tomorrow. Remember you don’t need these guys to finish in the top ten, you simply need them to gain a few points.
Matt Dibenedetto: Starting 38th, “Diburrito” can’t really hurt you and chances are he’ll gain a few spot and earn you a few points.
Who are your picks this week? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me your lineup.