This Week's Auto Club 400
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The West Coast swing of the Sprint Cup season wraps up this weekend with a trip to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for Sunday's Auto Club 400. The D-shaped oval is one of two 2.0-mile tracks on the schedule, and like its sister track, Michigan International Speedway, there is plenty of room for two and three-wide racing on the wide surface.
Sunday's race will also be another interesting test for the new rules package. Auto Club Speedway has an older racing surface, similar to Atlanta Motor Speedway, and the low-downforce package caused serious tire wear at Atlanta.
Of course, the new rules package has done little to derail the typical frontrunners, and despite an offseason of changes, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing still seem to be the class of the field, and that isn't likely to change this weekend.
1. KYLE BUSCH, #18 MARS BRANDS/INTERSTATE BATTERIES, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
He missed last year's race with an injury, but Busch won both the 2014 and 2013 races at Auto Club, and he has finished third or better in his last four starts at the track. He has also finished in the top five in all four races in 2016, so a three-peat in Fontana is a real possibility this weekend.
2. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 BUSCH BEER/JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Harvick finished second at Auto Club last year, and in the last five races at the track, he has three top five finishes, including a win. He also has six top 10s in his last eight starts at the track, finishing fourth or better four times.
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON, #48 LOWE'S/KOBALT TOOLS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS [YAHOO CLASS A]
The California native has enjoyed plenty of success at his home-state track. Johnson is a five-time winner at Auto Club, and he has finished in the top three in 12 of his 21 starts here. Johnson's 6.8 average finish at the track is the best in the series.
4. KURT BUSCH, #41 MONSTER ENERGY, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Busch has been on a tear at Auto Club, reeling off four straight top 10 finishes, including three straight top five runs. Last year, he started on the pole and led 65 laps on his way to a third-place finish.
5. CARL EDWARDS, #19 ARRIS/STANLEY, JOE GIBBS RACING[YAHOO CLASS B]
Edwards offers the ideal blend of reliability and upside this weekend. His 8.8 average finish at Auto Club is the second best in the series, and in 18 starts here, he has only finished outside the top 15 twice. Edwards also has 12 finishes of sixth or better at the track, including a win.