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Auto Club 400: Power Rankings

Included is a very bold theory on Jimmy Johnson

NASCAR: Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The rules I have implemented for myself are:

1.I will not pick a driver more than 10 times this season.

2.Due to #1 these are “Power Rankings” (in quotations) such that I’m not going to be picking Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch every week. I’m looking for value here.

My general format for my power rankings:

•Top 2 picks will generally be the favorites, the ones who should be top 5 or top 10 finishes.

• #3 and #4 will be your riskier picks, could be top 5 or bottom 15.

• Pick #5 is the dark horse.

Race Information

Race: Auto Club 400

Laps: 200

Date: March 18th

Venue: Auto Club Speedway

2017 Winner: Kyle Larson (2:57:46)

Broadcast: Fox (Darrel Waltrip & Jeff Gordon)

Course: Auto Club Speedway. This low banked 2 mile “D-Shaped” asphalt oval was built in 1996 with the light fixtures added in 2004. Control serves better than speed on this track given the embankments, environment and layout. It holds 68,000 seats and a total Capacity of 122,000It features 14 degree turns, an 11 degree frontstretch and a 3 degree backstretch. This is the only MENCS race featured here.

Power Rankings


1) Kevin Harvick (2nd selection this year). I don’t ‘think’ there is a chance he wins four straight but he has a strong track record at California. Prior to his 13th place finish last year he finished 2nd in 2016 and 2015.

2) Brad Keslowski (2nd selection this year). He finished 2nd here last year, 9th in 2016 and he had a win here in 2015. Additionally, I’m expecting a bounce back after a 15th place finish at Phoenix last week. He made it through a speeding penalty to win at the ISM Raceway through the Xfinity Series earlier this week.

High Risk/High Reward

3) Kyle Busch (1st selection this year). Normally this would be a ‘favorite’ pick; however, he was ineligibile to race here in 2015 due to his suspension, in 2016 he finished 25th and finally last year he had a top 10 finish here. That’s not a solid track record to work off. Given that he’s finished 7th, 2nd and 2nd in three starts this year, he’s a must start. If it were not for Kevin Harvick in his super car, Kyle would have won at Phoenix last week.

4) Jimmie Johnson (1st selection this year). Ok this is one of my more outlandish theories. Lowe’s just cut sponsorship from Jimmie in 2019 after being with him since his inception into NASCAR in 2001. I think this will be a spark to the competitive fire in Jimmie to really have a good race at California and prove he still has ‘it’. He won here in 2016 and despite a disappointing 27th place finish at Daytona and no top ten finishes yet this season, I think he cracks the top ten at California. I think he’s been stagnant and complacent lately, this was exactly what he needed.

Dark Horse

5) Alex Bowman (2nd selection this year). He got his feet wet finishing 20th at Daytona, since then he was 16th at Atlanta and 13th at Phoenix. He’s certainly trending up with each race under belt as the circuit heads west. I think we see a top 10 finish for Alex this week.

2018 Stats

Favorites: Avg Finish 8th (20th percentile)

High Risk/High Reward 19th (52nd percentile)

Dark Horse: 22nd (60th percentile)


Who would you take to win The Auto Club 400?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Harvick, Keslowski or Kyle Busch
    (1 vote)
  • 66%
    The Field
    (2 votes)
3 votes total Vote Now