With plenty of success on both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide side at Auto Club Speedway, Matt Kenseth looks set to have a say in the outcome of tomorrow’s Auto Club 400.
Kenseth has earned three Cup victories in his career on the two-mile oval and four more in Nationwide in his former life as a Roush Fenway Racing driver.
Furthermore, he’s earned 14 Cup Top-10s and is high up in several important categories pertaining to Fontana, such as average running position (9.4, third-best among active drivers) and laps in the Top 15 (2,860 laps, second-best among active drivers).
After seven Cup wins last season, Kenseth has not been able to find Victory Lane yet in 2014. But he’s been steady enough to run eighth in the championship so far, and he could certainly put himself into the Chase tomorrow.
Here are a few more contenders to watch for…
JIMMIE JOHNSON (starting third)
Johnson has won five times at Fontana, and has maintained that he’s not feeling the pressure to put himself in the Chase with a win this weekend. He’s had good pace throughout the weekend, including P3 in final practice.
CLINT BOWYER/BRIAN VICKERS (starting fifth and 19th respectively)
Both Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers have shown speed during the weekend, with Bowyer logging two Top-10 efforts in practice and Brian Vickers topping Happy Hour.
JEFF GORDON (starting sixth)
A three-time winner at Fontana, Gordon has been solid through the weekend as the runner-up in all three of the practice sessions. We’ve talked about his teammate Johnson possibly becoming the fifth different winner of the season in as many races. But we definitely have to keep Gordon in mind as well.
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (starting 15th)
Junior has never won at Fontana, but it looks sounds like he’s got something this weekend (fourth in first practice, fifth in final practice). Said NASCAR’s most popular driver on Twitter: