NASCAR Cup Series: Top Bets for Sunday’s Auto Club 400
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
This weekend NASCAR completes its West Coast swing with a stop at the 2-mile D-shaped oval known as Auto Club Speedway. The track is known for its old surface, which produces high tire wear. As a result, speed over the long run is extremely important, and is the number one factor in my machine learning statistical model to predict driver performance.
Other factors that go into the model this weekend are performance over a driver’s last eight non-restrictor plate races and large oval dominance by leading laps and posting fastest laps. Additionally, I’ll also use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores to gauge race-winning upside.
Last weekend at Phoenix, we hit our first winner of the year as Kevin Harvick posted his third straight victory. Hopefully, as suggested, you parlayed the Harvick bet with any of Matthew Freedman’s three prop bets for Phoenix, which all hit as well.
As always, make sure you shop around for the best price. Let’s dive into this week’s picks for Auto Club Speedway!
Kyle Busch: +350 at The Greek
Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway in both 2013 and 2014 and is coming off two straight second place finishes at Las Vegas and Phoenix. Busch’s 15-lap run was third quickest in Happy Hour, and he’s led laps at each of the last 11 large oval races. My model gives him the highest projected average finish among all drivers, and the Sim Scores show three of his 18 closest comparable drivers (17%) went on to win in similar situations. If Harvick stumbles, Kyle Busch is the best bet to win.
Kyle Larson: +450 at The Greek
Larson is the defending race winner at Auto Club Speedway, and has also dominated in recent years at its sister track, Michigan Speedway. Larson was second quickest over 10 consecutive laps, and posted the fourth-best 15-lap average in Happy Hour. Per the Sim Scores, four of Larson’s 14 closest comparable drivers (29%) went on to win in similar situations in the past, all at Auto Club Speedway.
Brad Keselowski: +2250 at 5dimes.eu
Keselowski hasn’t been super quick this weekend, posting only the ninth best 10- and 15-lap averages in final practice. But this play is based off of two things. First, the variance at Auto Club Speedway is relatively high, thanks to the high tire wear and propensity for strategy calls to play a factor in the race. Second, Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe is always willing to take a gamble. His range of outcomes is reflected in the Sim Scores, where three of Keselowski’s 13 closest comparable drivers won, but 25% of the time similar drivers have finished 26th or worse. Still, the upside is certainly there for Keselowski at this price tag.
Top Photo: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) during practice for the Pennzoil 400 ; credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports