Last weekend, Austin Cindric kept the tradition of the unpredictability of the opening NASCAR Cup Series season races alive with an upset win at the Daytona 500. Perhaps we could have seen it coming, considering he was driving the same car that had the most laps led on the track in the past, but nevertheless, he deserves a lot of praise for his performance on WISE Power 400 race.
Now the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for the WISE Power 400 race, where we will crown the second winner of the 2022 season. The online betting sites have the reigning champion, Kyle Larson, priced as the favorite (+300), which seems reasonable considering how dominant he was last year.
However, Larson doesn’t have a strong record at this track, with only one win and a handful of finishes outside of the top-10, so he might not be the smartest bet for the second race of the season. Instead, we will keep an eye out on Kyle Busch, who was simply phenomenal on this track in the past, with an average finish of 5.1 across the last nine races, with three victories, and seven top-10s and should definitely be considered as an excellent NASCAR betting pick at +700, which underestimates him a bit.
So the question remains, is Busch really better than Larson?
The results from the last season would say no, but Larson’s performance throughout the entire 2021 season doesn’t guarantee him success at Fontana. Still, we have to give him props for what he showed.
Larson was by far the most dominant driver of 2021, so it makes sense that he is billed as the favorite to win the race. He was simply phenomenal in 2021, so it’s fair to expect him to have another solid season.
Larson finished 18 of 36 races in 2021 inside the top-3, which is bonkers. Unfortunately, Larson’s record at Fontana isn’t that great. He has a victory from 2017 and two runners-up. But he finished outside of the top-10 in four of the seven races on this track.
In contrast, Kyle Busch’s average finish of 5.1 across the last nine races is by far the best out of all the drivers. He also finished outside of the top-10 over that stretch – but only once! Furthermore, Busch has finished inside the top-10 in his last 13 races across Fontana and Michigan, so he clearly likes this style of the track.
With figures like that, it’s hard to favor Larson over Busch for this race. Admittedly, he has looked better over the entire 2021 season, but Busch clearly has his number on Auto Club Speedway and similar tracks.
This offers a solid betting opportunity on the head-to-head markets since it seems highly unlikely for Larson to outperform Kyle Busch. But even looking at the outright winner betting markets, it’s hard to figure out why Larson is priced as a bigger favorite than Busch.
We have already decided that Kyle Busch is the best pick you can make on the WISE Power 400 race. But it never hurts to know a few interesting facts and trends about the California track.
- Michigan is the only other 2-mile track in NASCAR, so results in Michigan can be used as a solid form guide for Auto Club Speedway.
- Homestead and Darlington are two races that have similar racing styles to Auto Club Speedway, and as such, they can also be viewed as a solid form guide for WISE Power 400.
- Seven of the last nine winners at Auto Club Speedway started the race inside the top-10.
- The last four winners on this track started the race in the front two rows and were lap leaders (led at least 100 laps).
- Cautions are fairly infrequent at Auto Club Speedway – there were five or fewer cautions in the last three races.
- Ford drivers usually struggle at Auto Club Speedway – Ford won only one of the last 13 Auto Club Speedway races.