There is no question that the first part of the Sprint Cup schedule is an extremely grueling part of the year. It's not just the fact that the teams have to prepare for so many different tracks, but at the same time they are making trips across country seemingly each week. It's either to one coast or the other, with no middle ground.
This week is no exception, especially since the rain from a week ago made the long trip harder due to the turnaround needed for the teams.
After a late night at the "Bull Ring", NASCAR is heading back out to the west coast to make their single trip outside of Hollywood. The 2-mile, D-shaped oval of the Auto Club Speedway has become more popular since the track went to a lone date on the schedule, but at the same time the style of racing is not all about speed, but also where to run and how to get the best run over longer periods of time. Normally, this type of track would come down to fuel mileage, just as one would expect at such a facility.
Knowing this, teams are prepared to use strategy to get the win, as we saw two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
As for the writers, different strategies have worked thus far in the season, with only four still searching for that elusive first win. At the same time, last week no one was able to capture a victory. So, everyone is hungry and will take a victory any way they can get it. Here's who all the writers have chosen to win Sunday's Auto Club 400:
Misan Akuya: Kevin Harvick
If life was fair Kevin Harvick would have three straight wins and be the points leader. But it's not so he has two DNF's in a row and is 21st in points. Happy has shown just amazing speed this year that if he can stop running into badluck he is going to many more races. I predict as long as he can finish the race on Sunday there is a great chance he ends up in victory lane.
Rob Blount: Kyle Busch
James Broomhead: Jimmie Johnson
Billy Fellin: Joey Logano
While the altercation between Logano and Hamlin overshadows last year's race, Logano had one of the best cars that day and he's been off to a solid start this season. I'll take the 22.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Kara Martin: Kyle Busch
He is due a win!!
Ryan O'Hara: Carl Edwards
Edwards has the momentum coming to a track where he performs well at. There are some drivers who may have good runs, but they do not have the momentum coming in.
Dustin Parks: Jimmie Johnson
I learned my lesson from Vegas to not go with the winner the previous week, as it spelled doom for a few writers. So, instead of going with Edwards, I'm gonna stick with a California native and pull my 6-time card. Yep, going with the Lowe's team. Kinda hard not to bet against this guy here, especially since it's the track where he got his first career win.
Patti Rodisch: Brad Keselowski
Even though the Fords are still behind with the new rule package,Team Penske is not. Both their drivers have shown consistent speed this season and even after finishing 14th last week Brad Keselowski will challenge for win number two this weekend at ACS.
Aaron Rosser: Kevin Harvick
Taking the Bakersfield Basher.
Sal Sigala Jr: Kyle Busch
Rob Tiongson: Jimmie Johnson
Sticking with the Chevrolet brand and thinking that JJ is going to score another win at ACS - it was either him or Joey Logano, but Six Time is ready for a victory at Fontana once more!
Standings after Bristol:
Rob Tiongson (164) Jeff Gordon finished 7th - 1
Ryan O'Hara (152) Brad Keselowski finished 14th - 2
Dustin Parks (149) Brad Keselowski finished 14th - 1
Kara Martin (140) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th - 1
Sal Sigala Jr (138) Jimmie Johnson finished 19th - 1
Patti Rodisch (127) Jeff Gordon finished 7th - 1
Billy Fellin (120) Kyle Busch finished 29th - 0
Aaron Rosser (116) Joey Logano finished 20th - 1
Michael Hirshbein (111) Kyle Busch finished 29th - 0
Rob Blount (106) Kasey Kahne finished 8th - 0
Misan Akuya (97) Jamie McMurray finished 38th - 0
James Broomhead (91) Kyle Busch finished 29th - 1
Final Remarks: The one thing that is always consistent about this track is the fact that it seems to always come right down to the wire to determine a winner. Sometimes a late green-white-checkered will do it, or maybe getting that last drop of fuel to last, or as was the case a year ago, a wreck in the final corner.
The fans always seem to either get a finish that will make them leap to their seats, or one that means chewing off their nails until the final flag. Find out at 3 p.m. ET on FOX which one they will get this season.
Summary of Picks: