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Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: Auto Club 400

By Brian Polking
Edited by Keith Hernandez

Kyle Busch

While qualifying up front is never a bad thing at any track, drivers have been able to win at Auto Club Speedway from a variety of starting spots lately. In the last six races at the 2.0-mile oval, three winners have started inside the top 10, but three winners have also started outside the top 20. Surprisingly, only one winner during the stretch has started in the top five, and since the Cup Series began coming to the track in 1997, only one driver has won from the front row. The moral of the story is that drivers with fast cars can usually get to the front.

Speaking of drivers with fast cars, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth powered their way to the top two spots in the final driver rankings after backing up their top-five efforts in qualifying with top-five speeds during Saturday's practices. Both drivers have also had success at ACS in the past. Busch is a former winner, and he has finished third and second in his last two starts. Meanwhile, Kenseth's 10.3 average finish in the third best among active drivers, and he has gone to Victory Lane three times at the track since 2007.

Another former winner that crept into the top 10 after the practices Saturday was Greg Biffle. In fact, he topped the charts in the first session of the afternoon and was back in the top 10 in Happy Hour. He also qualified second for Auto Club 400, but an engine change will drop him all the way to the rear of the field. Still, the numbers say that Biffle isn't out of the running because he is starting at the back, and with five finishes of 11th or better in his last seven starts at ACS, owners can expect solid production.

As far as sleeper options go, pre-race favorites Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger solidified themselves as the top options after both cracked the top five in the first session Saturday and both cracked the top 15 in Happy Hour. Keep in mind that Allmendinger has finished in the top 15 in his last two starts at Auto Club Speedway and in both his starts in so far in 2013. Meanwhile, Busch has a 12.3 average finish at ACS for his career, and he had one of his two top-10s with Phoenix Racing last season at the track. As a result, Busch slid into the top 15 and Allmendinger into the top 20 of the final rankings. Either driver is an excellent option for owners looking to round out their rosters this weekend.

On the flip side, Carl Edwards was one big name that saw his stock fall a bit after average times during both practice sessions Saturday. He failed to crack the top 10 in either practice, and although his 8.7 average finish at ACS is the second best in the series at ACS, he didn't really show enough speed to be considered a serious threat for the win. Given his track record, don't be surprised if he finds a way to sneak into the top 10 Sunday. However, Edwards did slide out of the top five in the driver rankings, and owners may want to temper expectations just a bit.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos
1
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
4
2
Matt Kenseth
20
Toyota Dollar General Joe Gibbs Racing
5
3
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
18
4
Brad Keselowski
2
Ford Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
3
5
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
1
6
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
13
7
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
16
8
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
2
9
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew Hendrick Motorsports
15
10
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
14
11
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Stewart-Haas Racing
8
12
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing
24
13
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
19
14
Kurt Busch
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
10
15
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
9
16
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
7
17
A.J. Allmendinger
51
Chevrolet Guy Roofing Phoenix Racing
26
18
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet Quicken Loans Stewart-Haas Racing
20
19
Joey Logano
22
Ford Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
6
20
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet McDonald's Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
17
21
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
27
22
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
31
23
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Smithfield Richard Petty Motorsports
23
24
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
22
25
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Target Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
12
26
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
21
27
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
11
28
David Reutimann
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
28
29
David Ragan
34
Ford Detail Doctor Front Row Motorsports
42
30
David Stremme
30
Toyota Swan Racing Swan Racing
32
31
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet GoDaddy.com Stewart-Haas Racing
40
32
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kroger JTG Daugherty Racing
25
33
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
33
34
J.J. Yeley
36
Chevrolet Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing
37
35
Dave Blaney
7
Chevrolet Florida Lottery Tommy Baldwin Racing
29
36
Timmy Hill
32
Ford C&J Energy Services FAS Lane Racing
39
37
David Gilliland
38
Ford Love's Travel Stops Front Row Motorsports
34
38
Landon Cassill
33
Chevrolet Honey Nut Cheerios Richard Childress Racing
36
39
Josh Wise
35
Ford Blockbuster.com Front Row Motorsports
30
40
Scott Riggs
44
Ford No Labels Watches Xxxtreme Motorsports
38
41
Michael McDowell
98
Ford Ambient Edge HVAC Phil Parsons Racing
35
42
Mike Bliss
19
Toyota Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
41
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota Florida DOT NEMCO-JRR Motorsports
43

 



 


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