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Auto Club 500 Gambling

2009 Auto Club 500 Gambling Preview

Race: The Auto Club 500
Date: Sunday, February 22, 2009
Time: 6:15 PM EST (scheduled Green Flag)
TV: 5:00 PM EST on FOX

Preview:  The Daytona 500 gets all the hype, but this week’s race in Fontana, California, will be a better prognosticator of how the teams look on the type of downforce track that comprises the majority of the 36-race NASCAR Cup schedule.Auto Club Speedway, known for years as California Speedway, is a  2.0-mile D-shaped oval with 14 degrees of banking in the turns.  The track record for qualifying speed here is over 187 miles per hour, so it is a rather fast track that puts demands on both engines and drivers over the course of a 500-mile race that will transition from daytime to nighttime.  It will also be interesting to see how the lack of testing during the offseason plays out this weekend at Fontana.


Safe Bets:

1. Carl Edwards (9-2):  Edwards has a history of strong runs on this type of track and ranks in the top 5 in average finish (6.7) as well as points accumulated at ACS over the past five races.  He is the defending winner of this race and has a remarkable eight top-10 finishes in nine Fontana starts.

2. Jimmie Johnson (4-1):  Johnson is tied with HMS teammate Jeff Gordon for the most Cup wins at Fontana with three.  He’s the most recent winner here, having won the Cup race last August, and has won two of the last three Fontana races.  Johnson leads all drivers in the average finish category at ACS with a 5.9 and believes he has a very fast car this weekend.

Dark Horse:

1. Greg Biffle (10-1):  Biffle is a previous winner of the winter race in Fontana (2005) and is part of the Roush-Fenway/Ford team that accounts for six of nine Ford victories here – the most of any manufacturer.  Biffle led 168 laps in this race in 2006 before suffering an engine failure, and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the August race last year.  

Summary:  Qualifying results will be important in terms of pit selection this weekend, helping a few fortunate drivers get out front ahead of the pack for track position.  Also, keep an eye on:  1)  Matt Kenseth, who carries momentum into the weekend and has run very well at Fontana in the past; and, 2)  Kyle Busch, who dominated much of the Daytona 500 before being involved in a wreck and has also been strong at Fontana previously; 3)  Jeff Gordon, who’s shown he can win on this track and is anxious to put a check in the “W” category in 2009.

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Becca Gladden is a freelance writer and race handicapper specializing in NASCAR. 


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About Becca Gladden

Our resident Nascar Capper is back for another season making free racing predictions! Becca Gladden is a freelance writer and race handicapper specializing in NASCAR.