2009 NASCAR Fantasy Preview: Auto Club Speedway I

Congratulations to Matt Kenseth on winning his first ever Daytona 500 last weekend! I along with the rest of you would have probably rather seen the race run to the end just to see a great finish but that’s NASCAR. This week the drivers and their teams head to the California Speedway for the running of the Auto Club 500. A 500-mile race on a flat 2-mile D-shaped oval is going to put a premium on engine performance and longevity. After this race most of the teams are going to know where they sit with their engine packages for 2009.

  • Carl Edwards is my pick to win this weekend. Carl won this race last spring and has finished in the top 6 in all but 1 of the 9 races in which he has run here. Carl loves to run on this track and at Michigan which is very similar. The Roush/Fenway engines looked strong last weekend at Daytona and should give Carl the edge he needs.
  • Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last 4 races run at California and finished 2nd and 3rd in those other two races. Jimmie struggled with handling at Daytona last weekend but overall the Hendrick cars had a lot of horsepower to show. Look for Jimmie and Chad Knaus to rebound this coming weekend and give Carl a battle to the checkers.
  • Matt Kenseth won the spring races here in 2006 and 2007. Matt hasn’t finished worse than 7th since the fall race of 2005 at California. Last year Matt never won a race but was getting vewry close towards the end of the Chase. Now Matt has a win under his belt and this teams confidence is going to be through the roof this coming weekend.
  • Kyle Busch won his first race here back in the fall of 2005. Since then Kyle hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 at California and would like nothing better than to get the monkey off his back. That’s the monkey that jumped on during the Chase last season. Kyle came close to winning all 3 races last weekend at Daytona ans this just shows you that last year was no fluke for this driver.
  • Kasey Kahne picked upo a win here in the fall of 2006 and has finished outside the top 10 only once since the fall of 2005 here. It’s hard to believe but Kasey is already in his 7th full year in the Cup series. The question is can Kasey reclaim the magic he had? This should be a better year for Kasey all around. I believe that the merger between Gillette/Evernham and Petty Enterprises is going to be good for all those involved.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has struggled throughout his career at California Speedway. Dale’s best finish is 2nd but he has 6 finishes of 30th or worse in only 14 starts here. So, if you are a fan of Juniors don’t get your hopes up for this weekend. Dale needs to figure out why he made 2 huge mistakes in the pits at Daytona and get that corrected first before he worries about making the Chase this season. There is a long way to go so take it a step at a time Dale.
  • Jeff Gordon had a strong car at Daytona last weekend but was lucky that he didn’t blow a tire. That problem will be corrected by this weekend. Now Jeff is another driver that has had his good days and bad days in California. He has won twice here but he also has finished back in the middle of the pack in half of his starts here also. Let’s see if he and Steve Letarte can get this changed around.

Yahoo Fantasy Picks

Group A

  • Carl Edwards (starter)
  • Jimmie Johnson

Group B

  • Kasey Kahne (starter)
  • Denny Hamlin (starter)
  • Kurt Busch
  • David Ragan

Group C

  • AJ Allmendinger (starter)
  • Bobby Labonte

Top 5 Overall at California

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Kasey Kahne

Dark Horse:

  • Greg Biffle

As always you can Email me with any questions, comments or suggestions at gutsamaniac@hotmail.com Good luck once again this weekend!