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The NASCAR Cup Series event will be contested over 200 laps (400 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 65 and 130 laps. Alex Bowman was the winner when NASCAR’s top division last visited the Fontana, California, speedway in 2020.
In the first full-points, full-field NASCAR Cup Series competition with the new NextGen race car, rookie Austin Cindric drove the No. 2 Team Penske Ford to victory in the Daytona 500, beating Bubba Wallace to the finish line by .036 seconds.
But you shouldn’t expect Cindric to score a second straight victory in Sunday’s Wise Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway. The oddsmakers certainly don’t. Despite the win in NASCAR’s most prestigious race, they have Cindric as a +3500 long shot (DraftKings Sportsbook).
No driver has won the first two races of a Cup season since Matt Kenseth accomplished the feat in 2009 at Daytona and Fontana. Cindric isn’t about to break the streak.
In the second race of the 2005 season, Kyle Busch scored his first career pole position at Auto Club Speedway. In September of that same year, Busch collected the first Cup victory of his career at the same 2.0-mile venue.
All told, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has notched four wins at the track, the last coming in 2019. He’s the only active driver in NASCAR’s top series with multiple victories at Fontana.
Oddsmakers, specifically DraftKings Sportsbook, have installed another Kyle—Larson—as the heavy favorite for Sunday’s race at +400. Yes, Larson is the reigning series champion, and he’s a past winner at Fontana. He also has three victories at sister track Michigan International Speedway.
But as second choice at +800, Busch has equal talent (and arguably equal equipment) at double the return. That’s why we’re picking Busch to win.
As we predicted emphatically last week, Ford drivers were dominant at Daytona, producing the race winner and seven of the top 10 finishers.
Nevertheless, Fords aren’t getting any respect for Sunday’s Wise Power 400. The top Ford in the field, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, belongs to Ryan Blaney at +1200, tied for the sixth choice with Chevy driver William Byron.
But Ford drivers have won every Cup event so far this season—the Busch Light Clash, both Duel qualifying races at Daytona and the Daytona 500. And we think former Fontana winners in the Ford camp are undervalued, specifically Joey Logano (+1400) and Kevin Harvick (+1500).
Both veterans should be strong contenders on Sunday and could pay dividends if Kyle Busch doesn’t add to his win total. We also like the two drivers to finish in the top three at +330 and +350, respectively.
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|Wise Power 400 Information|
|Race||Wise Power 400 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Location||Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.|
|Time||Sunday, February 27, 3:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FOX|
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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