Obviously, the talk of the NASCAR garage and favorite for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) has to be Kevin Harvick. He’s going for four straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories this weekend in Fontana, a feat he can honestly pull off too. But, if anyone is going to derail Harvick’s dominance, look no further than the Joe Gibbs Racing camp.
JGR heads to Fontana with some momentum. In fact, the 2-mile California track suits their drivers very well.
Kyle Busch has finished second in each of the last two weeks to Harvick and is growing sick of coming in runner-up to the Stewart-Haas Racing driver. At Fontana, Busch has five top 10 finishes over his last six starts there including back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015. He also finished second in 2013 and third in 2012. He was eighth last year.
I’d say his No. 18 Toyota will be a big threat to Harvick on Sunday.
But, I also wouldn’t count out his two second year teammates Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones.
Jones, finished 12th in his lone Cup start in Fontana last year and has made three XFINITY Series starts there with two finishes inside the top five. The last three weeks, Jones has finished 11th, eighth and ninth respectively in his No. 20 Toyota. I think he contends for the win this weekend too.
Suarez, finished seventh last year in Fontana and has made two XFINITY Series starts as well. He finished fourth in 2016. Last week in Phoenix, he earned his first top 10 finish of the season with an eighth place effort in his No. 19 Toyota. I would look for him and Jones to be factors with Busch on Sunday afternoon.
One JGR driver that I’m torn on is Denny Hamlin. He has three top four finishes in four races this season, but he has just one top four finish at Fontana over his last nine starts there. While that did come in 2016, his No. 11 Toyota just hasn’t been very strong in Fontana over the years. If you remember right, Fontana is the track where he got injured in a last lap crash at in 2013. The very next year in 2014, he had an issue with his eyes and missed the race completely.
With Chevrolet being down in speed so far this year, I’d say this is a race between JGR and Ford.