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NASCAR Picks: Auto Club 400 Odds and Predictions
by Christopher G Shepard - 3/25/2011

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NASCAR driver Carl Edwards

Only 14 points separate Kurt Busch in first place from Paul Menards in fifth place in the Sprint Cup standings as Jimmie Johnson looks for his sixth win at the Auto Club Speedway as NASCAR heads to Fontana, California on March 27 at 3:15 p.m. for the Auto Club 400.

Auto Club enthusiasts should know that even though Jaime McMurray won the pole at Auto Club Speedway for both races last year, he also finished 17th in each. Keep in mind that only one victory at Auto Club Speedway has come from the pole while 10 of 21 races were won from outside the top-10 starting position. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are tied for second most wins here after Johnson. Finally, pay attention to third as the three-spot has paid off three times, more than any other position in the starting grid.

Who will win the Auto Club 400?
There is something decidedly different about this year’s Auto Club Speedway race. Oh yes, it is 100 miles shorter and is held in late-ish March as opposed to mid-February. Do you think that will make a difference? Well, for two lucky American Idol fans, it did. Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne were caught by the cam on the results show this week. Thanks to the schedule changes, two of NASCAR’s young guns are in the Fontana race at the same time of the final 10 (eh, 11) American Idol elimination show.

As for the distance, some experts say that the shortening of the race means the less time it will take Johnson to win his sixth race at Auto Club Speedway. However, it is the Ford engines that have been dominating this season -- despite Kyle Busch’s miraculous win last week -- and there is no real reason to think at Auto Club Speedway, much like Las Vegas a few weeks ago, that Ford won’t continue to impress.

On a side note: If you are having a hard time understanding me that is probably because I forgot to take my foot out of my mouth from last week’s prompt dismissal of Kyle Busch. Busch served notice with his win and my pick, Edwards, finished second place behind the No. 18 Toyota. Talk about your karmic jokes, eh?

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Thanks to the win Busch is now 17 points behind his brother in the Sprint Cup standings and comes into Fontana trying to break a three consecutive races outside the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway. Busch won back in 2005, but the race was longer then. Busch should do better than last spring’s 14th-place finish and land inside the top 10, perhaps seventh, this time.

This Sunday it is possible that Jack Rousch’s guys will get the better of Auto Club Speedway and either Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, or Edwards are realistic picks to win so throw the dart at your favorite driver.

Pick! Carl Edwards, No.99, +600         

Long Odds Lucky Dog Pick

Fords do well in California and let’s hope that is also true of gassers. Three weeks ago Biffle was running hot until a gasser forgot to do his job and cost Biffle big time. This week you can be sure that Rousch has worked out the kinks, and if the No. 16 car loses it won’t be their fault. I am surprised that Biffle is set at +2000 as he is a legitimate threat to win this race -- more than others at lesser odds. Biffle’s car was one of the three fastest at Las Vegas and we should see more of the same at this intermediate track.
 
Pick!
Greg Biffle, No. 16, +2000

Who will finish in the Top-Three?

Kenseth finished fourth last week at Bristol and has thrust himself six points from the top 10 and 13th overall in the Sprint Cup standings. In 18 starts at Auto Club Speedway Kenseth has three wins and 12 top-10 finishes. Ford’s engines should provide plenty of horsepower that plays well to Kenseth’s strengths. To complete the Jack Rosuch tri-fecta I’m going with No. 17.

Pick! Matt Kenseth, No. 17, +600

Auto Club 400 – Odds to finsh Top-Three*
Fontana, CA March 27, 2011

Jimmie Johnson  even   
Carl Edwards  +180        
Jeff Gordon  +250        
Kyle Busch  +250        
Tony Stewart  +300        
Denny Hamlin  +300       
Kevin Harvick  +350       
Kurt Busch  +450      
Matt Kenseth  +600       
Greg Biffle  +600        
Clint Bowyer  +600       
Jeff Burton  +900        
Ryan Newman  +900        
Dale Earnhardt Jr  +900        
Kasey Kahne  +900        
Mark Martin  +900        
Joey Logano  +900       
Juan Pablo Montoya  +900        
Jamie McMurray  +900        
Brian Vickers  +1200      
David Reutimann  +1200        
Martin Truex Jr  +1500      
AJ Allmendinger  +2200        
Paul Menard  +2200      
David Ragan  +3000        
zx Field (Any Other Driver)  +6000       
Marcos Ambrose  +6000       
Regan Smith  +6000       
Brad Keselowski  +6000       
Bobby Labonte  +9000    
Trevor Bayne  +9000   
David Gilliland  +9000   
Auto Club 400 – Odds to Win*
Fontana, CA March 27, 2011
Jimmie Johnson  +350    
Carl Edwards  +600    
Kyle Busch  +800    
Jeff Gordon  +800    
Denny Hamlin  +1000    
Tony Stewart  +1000     
Kevin Harvick  +1200    
Kurt Busch  +1500   
Clint Bowyer  +2000   
Matt Kenseth  +2000   
Greg Biffle  +2000    
Ryan Newman  +3000   
Joey Logano  +3000    
Juan Pablo Montoya  +3000    
Kasey Kahne  +3000    
Jeff Burton  +3000    
Mark Martin  +3000    
Dale Earnhardt Jr  +3000    
Jamie McMurray  +3000    
Brian Vickers  +4000    
David Reutimann  +4000    
Martin Truex Jr  +5000    
Paul Menard  +7500    
AJ Allmendinger  +7500    
David Ragan  +10000    
Regan Smith  +20000    
Marcos Ambrose  +20000    
zx Field (Any Other Driver)  +20000    
Brad Keselowski  +20000    
Trevor Bayne  +30000   
David Gilliland  +30000
Bobby Labonte  +30000   
*Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.com

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