Sprint Cup Series races to California

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After opening the season in Florida, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads cross country for Sunday’s running of the Auto Club 500 at Fontana (3:15 pm Eastern, Fox).

Jamie McMurray picked up the first checkered flag of this new season last Sunday, winning a two-lap sprint at the end of a long day to take the Daytona 500. In doing so, McMurray provided his backers at Oddsmaker.com with a nice payout of +4,000 on the Daytona 500 betting board.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who went off at +600, made a great late run to finish second last week; Greg Biffle, at +2,000, placed third; Clint Bowyer, at +2,500, took fourth; and David Reutimann, at +4,000, ran fifth.

Last week’s post-time favorite, Jimmie Johnson at +300, broke an axle late in the race and finished 35th. Tony Stewart, the second choice on the board at +500, finished 22nd. And Kyle Busch, the third pick on the board at +600, ran 14th.

Last year Matt Kenseth led 84 laps in winning the Auto Club 500. Jeff Gordon finished second that day, followed by Kyle Busch, Biffle, and Kurt Busch.

Johnson won the Pepsi 500 at Fontana last October on his way to his fourth straight season championship. Gordon again finished second that day, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Martin, and Stewart.

Johnson and Carl Edwards won the two Fontana races in 2008; Johnson and Kenseth (sound familiar?) split the two Fontana events in ’07; Kenseth and Kahne won at Fontana in ’06; Kyle Busch and Biffle took the two races there in ’05; and Gordon and Elliot Sadler did so in 2004.

Fords have won eight of the last 15 events on the two-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Chevies have taken six of those last 15 Fontana events, and Kahne won with a Dodge there in 2006.

As of Thursday morning Oddsmaker.com is listing Johnson as a +400 favorite on its Auto Club 500 betting board for Sunday. Martin is the second choice at +750, followed by Gordon and Kyle Busch at +800; Biffle and Edwards at +1,000; Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Stewart +1,200; Kahne, Kenseth and Montoya at +1,500; Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers at +2,500; Ryan Newman at +3,500; Joey Logano and McMurray at +4,000; David Ragan at +5,000; Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr. at +6,000; AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears, Bobby Labonte, Marcos Ambrose, Sadler, Sam Hornish, Jr., Scott Speed, Paul Menard and Regan Smith at +10,000; and The Field is being offered at +5,000.

Oddsmaker.com is also offering prices on individual driver-vs.-driver qualifying matchups for Sunday’s race. Qualifying can be seen on the Speed Network at 6:30 pm Eastern on Friday.

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