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Pala Casino 400: Preview, Odds, Best Bets

The Auto Club Speedway will host its final NASCAR race in Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 — at least in the track’s current form.

The 2.0-mile speedway in Fontana, Calif. has been dropped from next year’s schedule amid long-rumored plans to convert the venue into a half-mile short track.

As it is, the Auto Club Speedway is the last of its kind on the circuit with its seems between racing lanes and abrasive asphalt. Drivers face the difficult task of negotiating the wide D-shaped oval with 14-degree banking, while crew chiefs have to plan for a track that chews up tires. “There will be a big emphasis on trying to win the last one,” said Ryan Blaney. “It’s a big, slick, multiple-lane race track. It’s bumpy and rough, and drivers love that stuff.

“The reason why all of us loved Atlanta before they repaved it. Why all of us loved Texas before they repaved it. Chicago, we don’t even go there anymore, but all of us loved that place. Old worn-out tracks with a bunch of grooves and lanes are what drivers like. It is challenging and you are sliding around and there is room to race. Drivers enjoy that.”

This is the start of the “West Coast Swing,” and our NASCAR experts provide their best bets this week.

PALA CASINO 400 The Place: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif. The Date: Sunday, Feb. 26, 3:30 p.m. ET The Purse: $8,484,302 TV: FOX Radio: SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90) Distance: 400 miles

BEST BETS Kyle Larson (+600 at BetMGM) The California native won last year’s race, his second in the past five races at Fontana. He opened at +700 but those odds have shortened with Larson drawing 11.3 percent of the winning bets and 18.1 percent of the money — both second-most this week. That makes him the sportsbook’s second-biggest liability.

Ryan Blaney (+900) Blaney has three top-10s in six starts at Fontana, but has received modest support with only 2.9 percent of the bets and 2.7 percent of the money backing him.

Denny Hamlin (+900) Hamlin has been backed by slightly more bets than Blaney at 3.0 percent, but that has totaled just 1.3 percent of the money. Last year, he had a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes at Auto Club snapped, when he finished 15th.

Kyle Busch (+1000) Busch has won three of the past nine Fontana races and leads the field with four overall, posting an average career finish of 9.8 in 23 races. The most recent win came in 2019, but that hasn’t dissuaded the public. Busch, who opened at +1100, is BetMGM’s biggest liability this week as he has been backed by 15.5 percent of the bets and 29.8 percent of the money.

Joey Logano (+1100)

Seeking his first win at Fontana, Logano does have six top-10 finishes in the past seven races. He led 12 laps at Daytona before being a victim of a late caution flag, and finished second.

Chase Elliott (+1000)

Elliott has drawn 5.8 percent of the handle. He sports a 12.2 average finish in six previous Fontana starts. In general, be wary of any Ford driver. Brad Keselowski is the only one in the past 14 races at Auto Club to come away with a victory, and that was eight years ago.

–Field Level Media


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