Auto Club 400
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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway this weekend for the Auto Club 400. Sunday's race is the final stop on a three-race West Coast swing, and it is also one of three races that will be held at a 2.0-mile oval this season, with the other two coming at Michigan in the summer months.
I'm always ready to adjust my strategy after qualifying, but heading into the weekend, I'm planning somewhat of a balanced lineup that focuses on drivers starting near the front.
Not only are there fewer points available in the dominator categories because the race is just 200 laps, but the points in the laps led and fastest laps run categories have been spread out a bit of late. Over the last five races at Auto Club, 11 different drivers have led 38 or more laps in a race.
All 11 of those drivers have started in the Top 10, and seven of those drivers have started in the Top 5. Four drivers have led 80-plus laps in the same stretch, and all four have started in the first two rows. Ideally, I'll be able to afford three or four reliable options starting up front in order to maximize my chances of hitting the points in the dominator categories.
Here is a closer look at the guys I will be watching ahead of the Auto Club 400.
Harvick has owned the two-mile tracks since signing with Stewart-Haas Racing, logging a series-best seven Top 5 finishes in nine starts. He has also led a series-high 350 laps in that span. Last year, Harvick led a 142 of the 205 laps at Auto Club on his way to a second-place finish, and he ranks fourth or better in both dominator stats at the track overall.
The 2.0-mile tracks have been among his best, and over the last three years, Logano has a series-leading eight Top 10s in nine starts. During the same stretch, his 287 laps are the second most in the series, and he led 165 laps in three races last year. He has the upside in the dominator categories that you need atop your lineup.
Busch got on track at Phoenix last weekend, and we all know how dominant he can be when get gets hot. He has also been strong at Auto Club, picking up two wins and a second-place finish and leading 210 laps in his last four starts. Overall, Busch ranks second in both the laps led and fastest laps run categories at Auto Club, so he is more than capable of owning the dominator stats Sunday.