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Categorized | NASCAR

2018 Auto Club 400 Picks and Predictions: Top Sleeper Bets for the Auto Club 400

2018 Auto Club 400 Picks and Predictions – Top Sleeper Bets for the Auto Club 400: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finishes off its West Coast swing this weekend with a visit to Auto Club Speedway. The 2.0-mile oval will play host to the Auto Club 400 this Sunday, and like its sister track, Michigan, Auto Club is a high-speed track with long straightaways and a wide surface.

Like any track, big names have had plenty of success at Auto Club, but there have also been some surprise winners. From up-and-comers like Kyle Larson emerging as dominant drivers at the 2.0-mile tracks to drivers taking advantage of the long green flag runs the track tends to produce to steal wins with pit strategy, there is some upset potential this weekend.

With that in mind, I’ve highlighted my sleeper bets for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

2018 Auto Club 400 Picks and Predictions: Top Sleeper Bets for the Auto Club 400

Top Sleepers

Erik Jones (25/1)

I expected Jones to make a leap in 2018, and he’s doing just that. Not only does he have a full year of experience under his belt, but he is now driving for one of the premier teams in the sport, Joe Gibbs Racing. He has finished 11th or better in all three races since Daytona, and Jones has already flex his muscle at the 2.0-mile tracks, finishing in the Top 15 in all three starts as a rookie last season. He even delivered a third-place finish at Michigan in August. It’s only a matter of time before he starts reeling off victories, and after contending for the win at Michigan last summer, I like his chances this weekend, and I love his odds.

Kurt Busch (40/1)

Busch is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward bet, but at 40/1 odds, the potential payout is enticing. It certainly helps that Stewart-Haas Racing has been the dominant organization in the series this year, and Busch has a history of winning at 2.0-mile tracks, combining for four victories at Auto Club and Michigan. If you are looking for a sizeable payout without going out on a serious limb, Busch is your play.

Ryan Newman (100/1)

He’s probably not going to win this race on raw speed, but compared to a lot of the other drivers getting similar odds, Newman is showing the most speed this season. He has finished 11th or better in three of the four races, and it would likely be a perfect four-for-four had he not cut a tire at Atlanta. He also has a solid resume at Auto Club, logging Top 15s in four of his last five starts. Newman is practically a lock to be within striking distance of the front, and he could be one savvy move on pit road away from stealing a win and making you a lot of money.

Jamie McMurray (100/1)

A rough start to the year has ballooned McMurray’s odds and turned him into an all-out longshot, but he hasn’t been as bad as his finishes suggest. Cut tire at Las Vegas and ISM cost him Top 10 finishes, so there is still plenty of speed here. He’s also one of just two drivers who have finished in the Top 10 in all six races at 2.0-mile tracks over the last two seasons. With cautions and pit strategy, a lot can happen in the closing laps of a Cup Series race, and McMurray should be running close enough to the front to at least have a chance to take advantage. A consistent Top 10 finisher at these odds is a steal.

Austin Dillon (200/1)

Dillon is going to need a lot to fall into place to end up in victory lane, but the other drivers getting these odds can barely crack the Top 20 on a good day. Dillon is at least showing some speed, and he has an 11.8 average finish in the first four races this season. He’s also finished 11th twice in four starts at Auto Club. Like I said, he needs a fuel-mileage gamble or some other pit strategy to pull out a win, but Dillon is at least fast enough to have a puncher’s chance. The rest of the drivers getting similar odds have no chance at all.

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