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Pala Casino 400 Betting Odds and Prediction

NASCAR cars at Martinsville Speedway

After another wild Daytona 500 finish, the NASCAR circuit heads west for the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. This will be the last NASCAR race at the two-mile oval in California in its current state. After this weekend’s festivities, the track is going to be reconfigured into a half-mile short track.

Auto Club Speedway is unique because there aren’t too many comparable tracks. Michigan International Speedway is the same length and size, but the track surface doesn’t cause nearly as much tire wear. Darlington’s asphalt creates similar tire wear as Auto Club, but Darlington’s track configuration (shorter with higher-banking turns) is very different. So there aren’t too many comparable tracks, which is why most fans, racers and bettors are a little bummed about the reconfiguration. Fontana was a unicorn on the NASCAR calendar that created some unique betting opportunities.

Pala Casino 400 Field

Kyle Larson has opened as the +650 favorite at DraftKings, followed by his teammate Chase Elliott (+800) and Denny Hamlin (+900). Larson won the Cup Series race here in 2017 and 2022, and also won the Xfinity races here in 2014 and 2017. Pala Casino 400 betting favorites at DraftKings Sports Book as of Friday, February 24:
Kyle Larson (+650)
Chase Elliott (+800)
Denny Hamlin (+900)
Ryan Blaney (+1000)
Kyle Busch (+1000)
William Byron (+1200)
Tyler Reddick (+1200)
Ross Chastain (+1200)
Joey Logano (+1200)
Christopher Bell (+1200)
Martin Truex Jr. (+1400)
Kevin Harvick (+2000)
Alex Bowman (+2000)

Pala Casino 400 Betting Notes

You don’t say this too often about races in California, but weather is likely going to play a factor this weekend. There is a 100-percent chance of rain on Saturday, which has a good chance at postponing the Xfinity race and Cup Series qualifying. If the Xfinity race gets washed out on Saturday, they will likely run Sunday night after the Cup race. Auto Club Speedway does have lights, so daylight isn’t an issue. But cool temperatures will make track drying a long and laborious chore.

With the new NextGen car that debuted last year, you can’t put too much stock in historical results but it is interesting to note that Ford only has one win at Auto Club in the last 14 years (Brad Keselowski in 2015). Chevrolet dominated last year’s race, finishing 1, 2, 3, 4 and that’s not including Tyler Reddick who led the most laps and won stages one and two. That’s also not including Alex Bowman and William Byron who were both running top-10 but ran into some issues.

Pala Casino 400 Predictions

Speaking of Bowman, he’s our featured play this week, specifically at the Barstool Sportsbook if you have access to it. Bowman is even-money to finish top-10 at Barstool and -115 at FanDuel, which is certainly playable as well (for comparison’s sake, he’s -180 to finish top-10 at Caesars. Don’t bet that).

Bowman enjoys racing at tracks with tire degradation. He won here at Auto Club in 2020. He’s finished top-5 in five of the last six races at Dover. He has three top-10 finishes at Darlington since 2020. He enjoys this style of racing. Pit crews are going to be very important this week, because almost every stop is going to require four tires. Hendrick Motorsports has some of the best pit crews in the sport. Bowman already showed that he’s got a fast car to start this season after winning the pole for last week’s Daytona 500.

Pala Casino 400 Featured Matchup

Daniel Suarez -115 over Bubba Wallace (BetMGM): At the time of posting, Suarez is available at -107 in this matchup against Bubba at the Barstool Sportsbook and -120 at DraftKings, so be sure to shop around. Rationale on this one is pretty simple: Bubba doesn’t do well here. In four starts at Auto Club, he’s finished 19th, 20th, 27th and 30th. He doesn’t qualify well here. He doesn’t run well here. He doesn’t finish well here. If you want to use Darlington as a comparable track because of the high tire wear, he’s finished inside the top-15 once in nine races at Darlington with an average finish of 22.6. If you want to use Dover as a comparable track because of the tire wear, he’s finished top-15 once in eight races with an average finish of 21.3. This racing style does not fit him well.