Top NASCAR bets/matchups to look at this weekend in Fontana

A 30-1 driver won last Sunday’s Daytona 500 in Austin Cindric. That’s on part for a 66-1 winner in last year’s Great American Race to go along with two more longshots in Christopher Bell (Daytona road course) and William Byron (Homestead) making trips to victory lane in the two weeks after.

Will the start to the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season start as wild as last year’s? With a new car out this season plus racing at Fontana this weekend for which it’s a track that we haven’t been to since 2020 and this weekend also featuring the new practice/qualifying format, the door is wide open.

I mean the favorite for good reason is Kyle Larson at 4-1. Larson has three top two finishes in six career Fontana tries including a win in 2017 and a runner-up in 2018. But, can he win is the question on Sunday?

You get double the odds for someone like Kyle Busch (8-1) who himself has six top three finishes in his last eight Cup Series starts in Fontana. In Xfinity Series competition at Fontana, Busch has nine straight top eight finishes and 13 top three finishes in his last 14 tries. He’s a six time winner (2008, 2009, 2010, 2010, 2011, 2013) at that.

Seems to be that’s a better play.

Plus, with Chase Elliott (1 career top 5) and Denny Hamlin (1 top 5 since 2009) each at 8-1 as well, you have better odds to play with.

Martin Truex Jr. (10-1) has three top eight finishes in his last four Fontana tries and four top eight’s in his last six tries. He’s led 25 laps, 21 laps, 73 laps, 125 laps and 3 laps in five of his last six Fontana starts too.

Between he and Busch, they’ve won 2 of the last 3 Fontana races in dominating fashion. Truex led 125 of 200 laps in 2018 and Busch 134 of 200 in 2019.

Ryan Blaney (12-1) was ninth in 2017, eighth in 2018, fifth in 2019 and the only reason he was 12th in 2020 was due to a late race cut tire while running inside the top three. He led the second most laps (54) that day and was a top car all weekend.

Blaney’s Team Penske teammate of Joey Logano (14-1) has four top five finishes in his last five starts at Fontana and five top sevens in his last six there overall.

Bowman dominated in 2020, can he pick up where he left off?

Alex Bowman (14-1) is the defending race winner.

Kevin Harvick (15-1) has three top four finishes in his last six starts there and was fourth in 2019 and runner-up in back-to-back years (2015, 2016). Worth a gamble.

The thing is there, that’s a lot of Ford’s. After dominating Speedweeks Fords could struggle on Sunday.

While Team Penske and Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) has been good in Fontana, they just have struggled to win. Since 2010, a Ford went to victory lane just once (2015) in 11 races.

The last six races in Fontana though have been won by five different drivers from five different teams: Brad Keselowski (2015), Jimmie Johnson (2016), Kyle Larson (2017), Martin Truex Jr. (2018), Kyle Busch (2019) and Alex Bowman (2020).

That opens the door for some sleepers like Tyler Reddick (16-1) who was 11th in 2020. Kurt Busch (20-1) with six top 10 finishes in his last nine starts at Fontana including a sixth place run in 2019 and third in 2020. He also has five top six finishes in his last eight too. Brad Keselowski (20-1) with six straight top 10 finishes on this track including a win in 2015 and four straight top fives.

Some longer shots go to Austin Dillon (40-1) who has three top 11 finishes on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval in his last four tries including two straight 10th place results between 2018 and 2019.

Aric Almirola (70-1) has just two top 10 in 13 career Fontana starts. That’s the reason his number is so low here. But, both came in the last two years too.

Starting Position Matters

In Fontana, starting position has mattered more recently than ever before so it’s wise to get your picks in before Saturday. The 2018 races saw the top three qualifiers finish there too. Four of the top five starters that day came from a top six starting spot.

In 2019, three of the top four finishers came from a top five starting spot.

Two of the top three in 2020 came from the top 2 Rows.

The worst spot that an eventual race winner came from over the last four years in Fontana is fourth with two of those three coming from the pole. Five of the last six came from the top 4 Rows.


Race Odds

4-1…K Larson

8-1…Kyle B, C Elliott and D Hamlin

10-1…M Truex Jr.

12-1…R Blaney and W Byron

14-1…A Bowman and J Logano

15-1…K Harvick

16-1…T Reddick

20-1…Kurt B and B Keselowski

25-1…R Chastain

30-1…C Bell

35-1…A Cindric

40-1…A Dillon

50-1…C Briscoe and C Buescher

60-1…H Burton

70-1…A Almirola and J Haley

80-1…D Hemric, E Jones, Suarez and D Wallace Jr.

100-1…C Custer and R Stenhouse Jr.

150-1…T Dillon

Best Plays:

KyBusch (8-1)

Martin Truex Jr. (10-1)

Ryan Blaney (12-1)

Joey Logano (14-1)

Alex Bowman (14-1)

Kevin Harvick (15-1)


Kurt Busch (20-1)

Long Shots

Austin Dillon (40-1)

Aric Almirola (70-1)

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2022 Wise Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

·        2 – Austin Cindric VS. 12 – Ryan Blaney

o   These two Team Penske teammates were the story of last Sunday’s Daytona 500, as they dueled fiercely for the win on the final lap after working together in the draft all race long – with rookie Cindric ultimately coming out on top.

o   Blaney had a standout performance the last time the series visited Auto Club Speedway in 2020 – posting the second highest driver rating of the day (112.8) and leading 54/200 laps

·        24 – William Byron VS. 48 – Alex Bowman

o   Byron and Bowman, both Hendrick Motorsports teammates, have been evenly matched at intermediate-style tracks since 2019, with Bowman edging Byron just slightly in average finish (13.11 to 14.53), while both are dead-even in intermediate track driver rating over the same span (91.4).

o   Bowman is the most recent Cup Series winner at Auto Club Speedway, winning the 2020 event at the track in dominant fashion. Bowman also won 4 races in 2021 – including a midseason victory at Pocono Raceway, another intermediate circuit.

·        14 – Chase Briscoe VS. 23 – Bubba Wallace

o   This matchup pits the second (Wallace) and third (Briscoe) place drivers in last Sunday’s Daytona 500 against each other.

o   The two drivers enter the 2022 season with similar stats and similar expectations surrounding their teams. Wallace posted a 19.7 average finish in 2021, while Briscoe was a smidge better with a 19.6. Both drivers race for well-funded teams (Briscoe with Stewart-Haas Racing, Wallace with 23XI Racing) that are looking to take a step forward in the ’22 season.

·        43 – Erik Jones VS. 99 – Daniel Suarez

o   A mid-tier battle wraps up the featured matchup slate for Auto Club, featuring the drivers who placed 24th (Jones) and 25th (Suarez) in points last season.

o   The Next Gen car was designed with a goal of producing more competitive parity across the Cup Series landscape – making this matchup especially intriguing as it features two drivers who race for teams that have made big investments in capital improvements with the Next-Gen car in mind.

o   Suarez races for Trackhouse, who purchased the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of 2021 with an eye on making a big splash with the Next Gen platform.

o   Jones races for Petty GMS Motorsports – a new team that resulted from the merger of Jones’ old Richard Petty Motorsports group with standout Truck Series team GMS Racing. The new ownership group has re-built the team with an eye on being more competitive in the Next Gen era.

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