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NASCAR: Who to watch in the 2014 Auto Club 400

Kyle Busch was victorious in last year's race at Auto Club Speedway
Kyle Busch was victorious in last year's race at Auto Club SpeedwayGetty Images: Jared C. Tilton

Why is Jimmie Johnson a favorite at almost every race track? Because he’s won at almost every race track, and multiple times at that.

The fifth race of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Sunday, March 23rd, just another one of those track where Johnson has multiple wins – in fact, he leads active drivers with five wins at the two-mile track. The track ranks as one of his best, with an average finish of 5.7 – only next weekend’s track, Martinsville Speedway, ranks higher (5.3 average finish). Johnson has 14 top 10 finishes in 19 races, and has no finish worst than 16th.

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon was once a force to be reckoned with at Auto Club Speedway, but the last of his three wins came in early 2004; he has 11 top 10 finishes at the track, just one of which has come in the last five races. So far in 2014, Gordon has four-straight top 10 finishes to start the season.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch is the defending champ of the race, while his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin has won the last two poles at Fontana. Not to be outdone, Matt Kenseth has three wins of his own at the track, though they all came with Roush Fenway Racing. Where JGR really excels at Auto Club Speedway, however, is in the Nationwide Series: it’s won the last nine race there, dating back to Tony Stewart’s win in February 2008.

Speaking of Stewart, his fourth-place finish at Bristol was his best of the season so far – and now he’s heading to Fontana, where he has won two of the last four races. His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick also has a win sandwiched in there, back in 2011.

Sprint Cup Series qualifying for the Auto Club 400 gets underway Friday at 4:40 p.m. PT, with the race going green on Sunday at noon PT. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com.

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