Monster Energy Series - Auto Club 400 Pick

Date: 
March 17, 4:30 PM EDT
Location:
TV:

NASCAR’s Cup Series wraps up its annual West Coast swing with this week’s stop at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Sunday’s Auto Club 400 is slated to get underway at 2:30 p.m. (ET) with FOX carrying the race nationally.

Auto Club 400 Value Bets

With Kyle Busch’s victory in last Sunday’s race at Phoenix as my top-valued favorite (+375), there have been four different winners in the first four Cup Series events. Martin Truex Jr. was my top-valued contender at longer +1150 odds, and he almost paid off with a second-place run. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top three.

Turning to 5Dimes’ posted betting odds to win this Sunday’s race, here is a look at my top three value picks to win.

Auto Club 400 Top Favorite- Kyle Busch + 500

Harvick is also favored to win at +500 after winning this race last season. However, Busch is the kind of streaky driver that can tear off two or three victories in a row when he gets hot. With three Top 5 runs in the first four Cup Series events, I would qualify that as hot. He led 177 laps of last Sunday's race in a dominating performance for the No. 18 Toyota. A sixth-place finish at Atlanta back in late February was the only race this season where Busch did not lead double-digit laps.

Going back to last season’s race at Fontana, he ended up third after starting second. He was able to post back-to-back wins at this track in the 2013 and 2014 racing seasons.

Auto Club 400 Top Contender- Aric Almirola +2150

The betting odds to win this race at 5Dimes drop off a cliff after a trio of drivers at +650 with Almirola joining Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney at these much longer odds. I still believe the value is there given his racing form in last Sunday’s fourth-place finish at ISM Raceway. He was able to lead 26 laps in that race behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford. Following an early exit in the Daytona 500 due to a wreck, he has finished in the top 10 in his last three races. He led 36 laps in the race at Atlanta.

When it comes to his recent track record at Fontana, it has been nothing to write home about. Wrecks and engine problems have plagued him in the past, but all of Almirola’s value for this year’s race lies in his current form.

Auto Club 400 Top Longshot- Jimmie Johnson +5500

While most of the betting public has probably given up on Johnson as a viable contender in NASCAR's Cup Series, I still believe he can bring some substantial value to the table as a longshot if you pick and choose your spots. After getting shutout of Victory Lane in 2018 for the first time in his Cup Series career, he has posted a pair of encouraging efforts this season with a ninth-place run at Daytona and an eighth-place finish in last Sunday’s race. The No. 48 Chevrolet is far from being one of the better cars on the track, but it appears it is moving in the right direction.

The only reason I added Johnson to this week’s top-valued list was his overall success at this track as a California native. He has posted five career victories at Fontana with the last one coming in 2016. Johnson only cracked the top 10 in 11 races last season, including a ninth-place finish in this race. With an average finishing position of 7.2, this could be his best chance to win a race this season.

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