I'm posting an abbreviated race preview this week -- perhaps as a nod to NASCAR that races at Auto Club Speedway should be reduced by another 100 miles or so.
Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. agrees that Fontana runs too darn long.
Per SB Nation's Jeff Gluck:
Asked about Auto Club Speedway's decision to shorten its lone race to 400 miles, NASCAR's most popular driver offered an enthusiastic response.
"That's awesome," he said. "Hell yeah. That's great."
With only one race date this season, ACS officials had to decide whether to use the traditional 500 mile distance from the track's spring race or go with the 400 miles used last fall.
Officials opted to use a 400-mile distance, and Earnhardt Jr. is among those who applaud the move.
Of course Junior wants shorter California races. Fontana is far from his best track.
In 18 races, Earnhardt has only four top tens (no wins) and a driver-rating statistic of just 72.9. The sport's most popular driver has been hampered by five DNFs but even his finishes have been below acceptable.
Junior is off to his best start since his rookie season but there's signs of shenanigans.
Earnhardt's takeoff has been deceptive and the wheels might start falling off on Sunday.
Through the first four races, six of the top ten have driver ratings of over 100. Earnhardt has a very unimpressive 86.6, second worst in the top ten behind only Juan Pablo Montoya. Lastly, Junior's quality pass average and running order just doesn't add up to a Chase spot.
I'd like to avoid calling it luck but Junior has avoided major accidents at Phoenix and Bristol on the way to four-straight top-tens. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is truly back, Fontana is the ideal place to prove his critics wrong.
As a result of the preseason schedule shuffle, Fontana is now the fifth race of the season following a long run as the Daytona 500 follow-up.
Find out who has the best shot at winning the Auto Club 400 after the jump!
Hedging your bet on anyone other than Jimmie Johnson is just silly.
Johnson is the best all-time performer at Auto Club Speedway. Johnson won here last summer and has won four of the last seven in California and has a driver rating of 124.2. Fontana is by far Johnson's best track on the Sprint Cup Series circuit.
If you insist on tempting fate by picking another driver, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch are pretty safe bets from over the past several seasons.
Kyle Busch has one win in 13 starts with four top-fives and eight top-tens. He claims a driver rating of 100.7 at the 2-mile D-shaped oval and has averaged a 12.7 finish with only one DNF.
Martin has 19 career visits to Auto Club Speedway and also has a win in California's spring race. Martin has six top-fives and eight top-tens with an average running position of 9.6, fourth-best in Sprint Cup. The 52-year old is never far from the leaders.
The Auto Club 400 from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. airs at 3 p.m. EST and will be televised live on FOX Sports.