Friday’s Cup Series Practice Report, Who To Bet Now For Sunday’s Auto Club 400

FONTANA, Calif — Like last weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend this week at the Auto Club Speedway is an impound event. That means we saw the lone two practice sessions of the weekend on Friday, followed by qualifying on Saturday, then the Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN) on Sunday.

With that being said, that means we can make a pretty good assumption on who will be the ones to beat for Sunday’s race based off of Friday’s dual practice sessions.

Right now, Alex Bowman is the overall favorite. Bowman, had a great long run car last weekend in Vegas and if not for a late race caution, he likely would have won.

Bowman, set quick time in both practice sessions on Friday to go along with having the time speeds in five lap as well as 10 lap averages too. His No. 88 Chevrolet sure looks quick.

The second best car was the second best car last week too in Ryan Blaney. Bowman, was chasing Blaney down at the end of last Sunday’s Pennzoil 400. They duo would have came home 1-2 if not for that late race yellow.

Blaney, was ninth and second respectively in the two sessions on single lap speeds on Friday to go along with being third in both sessions on the five lap chart, second on the 10 lap and quickest on the 15 and 20 lap averages.

Matt DiBenedetto had the third best car on Friday in having his No. 21 Ford fifth and ninth on single lap speeds, second and fifth on the 5-lap charts, fourth on the 10 lap and third in both the 15 and 20 lap averages.

His Team Penske counterparts were right there too. Blaney and DiBenedetto (Wood Brothers but Penske alliance) are 2-3 but you can make a case that Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were 4-5.

Keselowski, was 10th and seventh on single lap speeds, seventh and fourth (5 lap), sixth (10 lap), fourth (15 lap) and fourth (20 lap) respectively.

Logano, was a bit off on single lap runs (13th, 16th) but his speed increased as the laps went on 5 lap (15th 11th), 10 lap (5th).

The Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson are to me the next best. Busch, was fourth in both sessions on single lap averages, sixth and second on five laps, second and eighth on 10 laps, fifth on 15 laps and second on 20 lap runs.

Larson, was second and eighth (1 lap), 11th and 16th (5 laps), 10th (10 lap), ninth (15 lap) and sixth (20 lap) himself.

The Toyota’s didn’t have much short run speed but progressively got better as the runs went on. I don’t expect them to qualify well on Saturday but could run their ways towards the front on Sunday afternoon.

Fontana is a large, abrasive track, so long run speed means so much more than short run pace.

Who To Bet

Kevin Harvick (+500)

While he hasn’t led a single lap in his last three Fontana starts, he does have three top four finishes in his last five starts there though. Harvick, was fourth last year and runner-up in back-to-back years (2015, 2016). Worth a gamble. He’s one of two drivers with a top 10 finish in each race so far this season. He was third (10 lap), sixth (15 lap) and fifth (20 lap) on the long run speed charts on Friday.

Joey Logano (+600)

Logano has five straight top five finishes in Fontana including a runner-up last year. He won last weekend in Vegas. He was also 5th (10 lap) on the long run speeds.

Brad Keselowski (+700)

He’s been good of late in Fontana. Keselowski, has five straight top 10 finishes on this track including a win in 2015. Four of his last five finishes have been inside the top five. Also, he was 10th and seventh on single lap speeds, seventh and fourth (5 lap), sixth (10 lap), fourth (15 lap) and fourth (20 lap) respectively. 

Martin Truex Jr. (+750)

Truex, has three straight top eight finishes and four top eight’s in his last five tries. He’s led 25 laps, 21 laps, 73 laps and 125 laps in four of his last five Fontana starts. Like Harvick and Logano, he doesn’t have good short run speed but his long run pace was pretty good.

Kyle Larson (+750)

Larson has three top two finishes in six career Fontana tries including a win in 2017 and a runner-up in 2018. While he was only 12th last year, he didn’t quite have a handle on the new racing package yet. He’s the other driver with a top 10 finishes in both races this season. Larson, was second and eighth (1 lap), 11th and 16th (5 laps), 10th (10 lap), ninth (15 lap) and sixth (20 lap) himself. 

Ryan Blaney (+1300)

His stats keep getting better and better in Fontana. He was ninth in 2017, eighth in 2018 and fifth last year. A top three finish is on the horizon. Blaney, was ninth and second respectively in the two sessions on single lap speeds on Friday to go along with being third in both sessions on the five lap chart, second on the 10 lap and quickest on the 15 and 20 lap averages. 

Alex Bowman (+2000)

Right now, Alex Bowman is the overall favorite. Bowman, had a great long run car last weekend in Vegas and if not for a late race caution, he likely would have won.

Bowman, set quick time in both practice sessions on Friday to go along with having the time speeds in five lap as well as 10 lap averages too. His No. 88 Chevrolet sure looks quick.

Kurt Busch (+2500)

The 2004 series champion has five top 10 finishes in his last eight starts at Fontana including a sixth place run last year. He also has four top six finishes in his last seven too. Busch, was fourth in both sessions on single lap averages, sixth and second on five laps, second and eighth on 10 laps, fifth on 15 laps and second on 20 lap runs. 

Matt DiBenedetto (+5000)

He finished P2 last week. DiBenedetto had the third best car on Friday in having his No. 21 Ford fifth and ninth on single lap speeds, second and fifth on the 5-lap charts, fourth on the 10 lap and third in both the 15 and 20 lap averages.

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