After a thrilling Daytona 500 on the east coast of Florida, NASCAR makes the trek across the country to Southern California for the Pala Casino 400.
The hubbub of Daytona is now in the rearview mirror, and we settle in for the marathon that is the Cup Series season.
Favorites to Win Pala Casino 400
Kyle Larson (+650)
Denny Hamlin (+800)
Chase Elliott (+800)
Ryan Blaney (+1000)
Kyle Busch (+1000)
Christopher Bell (+1000)
Tyler Reddick (+1200)
Ross Chastain (+1200)
Martin Truex, Jr. (+1200)
Joey Logano (+1200)
Kyle Larson only finished 18th at Daytona, but he is the favorite because of his history at Fontana. He was the winner here in 2022 and 2017, and he has been the runner-up two other times. Larson loves racing on this track, having led here for 138 laps in his career.
Right on the heels of Larson are Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. Hamlin has four top-10 finishes at Fontana in his last five races. Hamlin was 17th at Daytona last Sunday. Elliott only made it through half of Daytons before he was taken out in an accident. At this track in 2020, he finished fourth.
Three other drivers are bunched up at +1000, including Christopher Bell, who finished third at Daytona. Bell had three wins last season on his way to a third-place finish in the Cup Series. He led for 20 laps last week.
Ryan Blaney, also at +1000, finished in eighth place at Daytona. In six races in Fontana, he has three top-10 finishes. Two years ago at this race, he led for a total of 54 laps, but ended up limping across the finish in 19th place.
Among the drivers at +1200, Joey Logano, who just finished as the runner-up at Daytona, was fifth at this race last year. In 15 career races at Fontana Logano, last year’s Cup Series champion, has seven top-5 finishes.
One of the forgotten drivers in the field is Austin Dillon, paying +4000. He was the runner-up at this race last year and in his three previous races in Fontana he had two other top-10 finishes.
A pair of +5000 drivers also deserve your Pala Casino 400 attention. The first is Aric Almirola, who has finished in the top-10 in each of the last two Pala Casino 400s. The other is none other than new Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Yes, it’s hard to win back-to-back starts. But Stenhouse finished in the top-10 at Fontana last year, and he’s clearly off to a great start in 2023.
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