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Pala Casino 400 Predictions: NASCAR At Fontana Odds, Picks & Betting Tips

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 20 mins

Pala Casino 400 Predictions: NASCAR At Fontana Odds, Picks & Betting Tips

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Another year, another long-shot winner in the Daytona 500. Now we begin to find out if the victory last weekend by +3000 NASCAR odds choice Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a harbinger of things to come in the NASCAR season at large.

That certainly proved the case in 2022, when Austin Cindric’s unlikely triumph in the Great American Race kicked off an unpredictable campaign fueled by the implementation of a new car that delivered on its promise of leveling the playing field. 

Will 2023 follow suit? The journey to that answer starts this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, in the last race before the 2-mile facility in Fontana, Calif., is leveled and converted into a short track.

Fontana last year proved an exception, given that winner Kyle Larson was the only odds favorite to prevail until Chase Elliott won at Atlanta in July. 

Larson is the favorite on betting sites again this week, and everybody’s had a year to adjust to a next-gen car where most parts are supplied by common vendors, rather than manufactured by individual teams. Now we wait to see if the old order is reestablished, or the 2023 NASCAR season has more surprises in store.

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Pala Casino 400 Betting Tips

It’s something of a pity that they’re taking the wrecking ball to Fontana, given how the 2-mile oval has matured into a wide, worn-out track that’s ideal for multi-groove racing. Kyle Busch will certainly hate to see it go—he leads all active drivers with four career wins on the current configuration, and he’s finished third or better there in three of his last four starts (a span that includes a victory in 2019).

Busch was certainly strong in his new Richard Childress Racing ride in the Daytona 500, but the dynamics of racing at Daytona are so different than what we’ll see most everywhere else, the jury remains out on what he’s capable of in a full season in the No. 8 car. 

Larson is the only other active driver with multiple career wins at Auto Club, scoring the second of his two career victories last year.

Reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano has never won at Fontana, but otherwise, he’s been excellent there with top-five finishes in five of his last six starts including a runner-up performance in 2019. Kevin Harvick hasn’t won at Fontana since 2011, but he’s still managed to score top-10s in 13 of his last 17 starts there.

Admittedly, this can be a challenging time of year for NASCAR betting, given that Daytona really doesn’t offer a true indication of what teams are capable of over the span of a nine-month campaign. But Fontana has been on the circuit since 1997, and with few exceptions, it’s tended to favor championship-caliber drivers who can manage the unique combination of speed and pack racing that the 2-mile layout has to offer. 

That remained the case last year when Fontana proved an island of predictability in a season that was anything but.

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Joey Logano to Win

Odds: +1200 at DraftKings  

The two-time champion still remains one of the more underrated drivers in the sport, as evidenced by these odds of winning on a track where he’s enjoyed a sustained run of success. 

Logano’s last six races at Fontana: fourth, fifth, fifth, second, 12th and fifth. His average finish over that span is a circuit-best 5.5. He’s never won there, but he’s completely capable of it, and Logano clearly showed a firm handle on this car in his 2022 title run. Take Logano to win at +1200 on sports betting apps.

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Kyle Busch Top 3

Odds: +300 at DraftKings  

Busch needed a reset, after falling to 13th in final points and managing a victory only on the Bristol dirt last year. RCR hasn’t had a driver of this caliber since Harvick competed for the organization, and Busch is very capable of elevating an outfit that in recent years has been good but not great. 

Busch’s career average finish at Fontana (9.8) is the best among active drivers, and RCR cars have been good there recently, too—Austin Dillon was runner-up to Larson last year. 

Erik Jones Top 5

Odds: +400 at DraftKings  

Jones is an outstanding talent who deserves better equipment, and he might get it now that seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson is effectively in charge at the former Richard Petty outfit since renamed as Legacy Motor Club. 

Only Busch can better Jones’ career average finish of 10.2 at Fontana, where he’s finished in the top 10 in three of the last four seasons. That includes a third-place run last year, in which Jones led 18 laps in the current next-gen car. 

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Pala Casino 400 Time, Date and TV

When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. EST

Where: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.

TV: FOX

About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.