Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: Auto Club 400

by Brian Polking on March 22, 2014 @ 19:00:11 PDT

 


On the heels of an eventful trip to Bristol Motor Speedway, fantasy owners should be happy that it has been business as usual so far at Auto Club Speedway with a majority of the big names and pre-race favorites performing well. Matt Kenseth will start on the pole, and he will be joined on the front row by Brad Keselowski, who will be making his fourth straight start from the front row. Overall, three of the top-four qualifiers are former winners at the track.

With many of the top fantasy options living up to expectations thus far, you may want to consider employing an aggressive strategy and loading up your lineups with big names to try for a big points day. While you may sacrifice a little long-term flexibility in many formats by using a lot of big names at once, it is a lot easier to justify when the top drivers are consistently posting great times in both qualifying and practice. After all, it can be just as detrimental to use up a start from one of the big names when they haven't been showing a lot of speed.

The top 3

1) Kevin Harvick

Harvick was already poised to move up in the rankings after a rare top-five effort in qualifying, and he moves all the way to the top of the rankings after topping the charts in the first practice session Saturday and posting the best 10-lap average speed. Harvick also won at ACS in 2011, and in his last six starts at the track, he has a 6.2 average finish. You should definitely consider building your roster around him in all formats.

2) Jimmie Johnson

He has been pretty dominant at Auto Club Speedway throughout his career, and Johnson appears headed for another great run at the track. After qualifying third, he ranked inside the top 10 in both of Saturday's practice sessions. Throw in the fact that he leads all drivers in just about every scoring loop category and has a series-leading 5.7 average finish and five wins at ACS, and Johnson needs to be owned in every format.

3) Matt Kenseth

The three-time Auto Club Speedway winner got his weekend off to a fast start by snagging the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 400. He also cracked the top five in practice Saturday, and he has finished seventh or better in 11 of his last 14 starts at ACS. Considering he has been able to win three races at the 2.0-mile oval after starting outside the top 20, Kenseth could do some serious damage from the pole this weekend.

Value picks

13) Kurt Busch

Busch didn't have a great run in qualifying, but his car seemed to come to life in race trim Saturday. He turned one of the five-fastest laps in the opening session, and he also posted one of the 10-best 10-lap average speeds. Meanwhile, Busch is a former winner at Auto Club Speedway, and he has five top-10s in his last seven starts at the track. In fact, Busch finished in the top five at ACS last season. Even from the 17th starting spot, he has a lot of upside.

15) Ryan Newman

He has been on a mini roll at Auto Club Speedway, and all signs point to Newman providing a solid finish for fantasy owners this weekend. After qualifying 16th, he cracked the top 10 in practice Saturday and was even stronger on long runs. Newman has reeled off four straight top-10s at ACS, and he should have a shot at extending the streak Sunday.

18) Kyle Larson

The rookie has been having himself a solid weekend at Auto Club Speedway. He qualified 11th Friday, and he was solidly in the top 20 during practice Saturday. More importantly, he had one of the five-best 10-lap average speeds in the first practice Saturday. Larson has never made a Cup start at ACS, but given his love for the high line and his solid practice times, his debut could be an impressive one.

Sleeper special

21) Marcos Ambrose

His record at Auto Club Speedway is terrible, but Ambrose has been fast all weekend. He qualified in the top 10 Friday, and he also ranked in the top 10 in race trim during practice Saturday. Ambrose has a little momentum on his side after logging his first top-five finish in more than a year last weekend at Bristol. Everything points to Ambrose having a fast car for Sunday's race, and if you are willing to take a chance on a guy with a 28.8 average finish at ACS, it could pay off in a big way.

Big names outside the top 10

16) Kasey Kahne

Despite an overall solid record at Auto Club Speedway, Kahne has been known to have a bad run at the track on occasion. Based on his lack of speed so far this weekend, one of those rough outings could be on tap Sunday. He qualified a disappointing 26th, and he ranked outside the top 20 again in practice Saturday. Despite four straight top-15s at ACS, Kahne looks like a shaky option this weekend.

22) Martin Truex Jr.

Auto Club Speedway has never been his best track, and while he qualified in the top 10 Friday, he will now start at the rear of the field in a backup car after cutting a tire and smashing the wall in practice Saturday. Worse yet, he didn't crack the top 20 in practice with his backup car. Starting at the back is the last thing Truex needed. In 13 starts at ACS, he has a 19.9 average finish and no top-five finishes. In fact, he has only cracked the top 15 four times.

Overall rankings

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos
1
Kevin Harvick
4
Chevrolet Budweiser Stewart-Haas Racing
4
2
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
3
3
Matt Kenseth
20
Toyota Dollar General Joe Gibbs Racing
1
4
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
14
5
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing
8
6
Joey Logano
22
Ford Shell/Pennzoil Team Penske
7
7
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew Hendrick Motorsports
15
8
Brad Keselowski
2
Ford Miller Lite Team Penske
2
9
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
6
10
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
5
11
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
24
12
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Stewart-Haas Racing
10
13
Kurt Busch
41
Chevrolet Haas Automation Stewart-Haas Racing
17
14
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
13
15
Ryan Newman
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
16
16
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
26
17
Brian Vickers
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
19
18
Kyle Larson
42
Chevrolet Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11
19
A.J. Allmendinger
47
Toyota Clorox JTG Daugherty Racing
18
20
Austin Dillon
3
Chevrolet Dow Energy Richard Childress Racing
20
21
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
9
22
Martin Truex Jr.
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
12
23
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
22
24
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
30
25
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Smithfield Richard Petty Motorsports
21
26
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet McDonald's Chip Ganassi Racing
25
27
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet GoDaddy.com Stewart-Haas Racing
27
28
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
31
29
David Ragan
34
Ford Taco Bell Front Row Motorsports
41
30
Michael Annett
7
Chevrolet Pilot Flying J Tommy Baldwin Racing
23
31
Justin Allgaier
51
Chevrolet Brandt HScott Motorsports
28
32
Cole Whitt
26
Toyota Speed Stick Gear Swan Racing
34
33
David Gilliland
38
Ford Love's Travel Stops Front Row Motorsports
29
34
Reed Sorenson
36
Chevrolet Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing
36
35
David Reutimann
35
Ford MDS Transport Front Row Motorsports
33
36
Brian Scott
33
Chevrolet Whitetail Circle Sport Racing
37
37
Alex Bowman
23
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
40
38
Ryan Truex
83
Toyota Borla Exhaust BK Racing
39
39
Parker Kligerman
30
Toyota Swan Racing Swan Racing
32
40
Joe Nemechek
66
Toyota Land Castle Title Jay Robinson Racing
42
41
Landon Cassill
40
Chevrolet CRC Brakleen Hillman Racing
43
42
Travis Kvapil
32
Ford C&J Energy Go FAS Racing
35
43
Josh Wise
98
Ford Ambient Edge HVAC Phil Parsons Racing
38

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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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