Last week the Sprint Cup Series was on the fast short track of Bristol Motor Speedway. This week the traveling circus of NASCAR goes to a super-fast, large, flat, Auto-Club Speedway in Southern California.
A-List Must Haves:
Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has started 2013 strong by winning the Daytona 500 and he’s third in the standings. He melted a bead last week in Bristol which resulted in a poor finish. But Johnson heads to what is arguably his best race track on the schedule. Johnson has five wins at the two-mile D-shaped oval. He’s always strong there, and considering how strong he’s been to start this season, you should definitely want to pick him.
Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has three career wins at Auto-Club Speedway, his most recent coming in 2009. He’s been really strong to start off 2013 with his new team. Kenseth has had a shot to win almost every race so far. He was in second last week in Bristol when a tire went down on the leader Jeff Gordon’s car. Kenseth had nowhere to go and ran right in the back of Gordon. You can bet that he’ll rebound nicely this week.
A-List Wild Card:
Brad Keselowski: Keselowski is listed as a wild card for this weekend because he’s never been strong at Auto-Club Speedway. He doesn’t have a top-10 finish here. His best finish was an 18th place finish in this race last year. But Keselowski and his team have figured out this new race car really fast. Keselowski leads the standings and has posted a top-five finish in all four races to start this season.
B-List Must Haves:
Carl Edwards: Roush-Fenway Racing and the rest of the Fords usually run really strong in California. Edwards is one of those Ford drivers that typically is a contender at the end of 400 miles here. Edwards has one win here which came in 2008. As bad as 2012 was for Edwards, he still finished fifth in this race. That should tell you just how strong he usually is here.
Greg Biffle: The Biff is also strong in California and that shouldn’t be a shock considering he’s a Ford driver. Biffle has one win here and although it came all the way back in 2005, he’s still very good here. He finished sixth in this race last season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior is off to the best start of a season in his career. He sits second in points, just nine back from Keselowski. Though Earnhardt only has two wins since 2008, both those wins came at Michigan International Speedway which is the sister track to Auto-Club Speedway. Earnhardt finished third in this race last year.
Kyle Busch: The younger of the Busch brothers may not have a win here yet, but he’s a contender for a win everywhere he goes. Busch finished second in this race last season and led a race high 80 laps.
B-List Wild Card:
Mark Martin: Everywhere Mark Martin races he qualifies really well, but doesn’t get the finish to back it up. He’s worth having on your team just for the qualifying points that he almost always will get you. Whether or not to start him is up to you.
As per usual, the C-List is a total toss-up. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been strong pretty much all season long, so he should be the driver you want to use. But at the same time you may want to save starts with him for other points in the season. So some other guys you should look at should include David Reutimann and AJ Allmendinger. Reutimann has been just about average for a C-List driver so far. Allmendinger has been really strong in his starts for Phoenix Racing. Actually, every driver that has raced in the 51 to start off 2013 has done really well. James Finch has used three different drivers in four races and yet the 51 finds itself in eighth place in the Owner’s Standings. That shows just how good the 51 has been so far this season.