NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500 was very memorable as rookie Austin Cindric took the checkered flag in the sport’s biggest race. The Cup Series shifts coasts this Sunday for the Wise Power 400 from California. Could Cindric go 2-for-2?
Sunday’s Wise Power 400 NASCAR Cup Series event marks the 32nd race hosted by Auto Club Speedway in the series’ history. The track held two races a season from 2004-2010, and has since hosted one race a year. The 2-mile tri-oval is an asphalt racing surface with 14 degrees of banking in each turn, 11 degrees on the front and 3 degrees on the backstretch. The track first opened in 1997, the Cup Series held its inaugural race and the hometown favorite Jeff Gordon won.
Fox Sports has revealed the identity of the guest analyst for the trip to Auto Club Speedway. Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will join the booth for the race. Kenseth suited up for 25 races at Auto Club Speedway during his career, and he posted an average finish of 12.1 with only one DNF. Kenseth won this race three times, tied for most with Jordan, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, who is a favorite this week.
Busch was one of the eight drivers involved in the Stage 1 conclusion crash that took half out of contention for the Daytona 500 victory. Busch still managed to finish sixth. The two-time champion did lead four times for a total of 28 circuits.
2022 Wise Power 400 Race Info
I’ve waited two years to tweet this…— Auto Club Speedway (@AutoClubSpdwy) February 21, 2022
IT’S OUR TURN!!!! LET’S. GO. RACING. NEXT. WEEKEND!!!! pic.twitter.com/sgDaD0rcRw
- When: Sunday, Feb. 27 at 3:30 pm ET
- Where: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
- TV: FOX
- Radio: MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
- Live Stream: NBCSports.com
Odds to Win the 2022 Wise Power 400
- Kyle Larson +400
- Kyle Busch +800
- Chase Elliot +800
- Denny Hamlin +850
- Martin Truex Jr. +1000
- William Byron +1200
- Alex Bowman +1400
- Ryan Blaney +1200
- Joey Logano +1400
- Kevin Harvick +1500
- Tyler Reddick +1600
- Brad Keselowski +2000
- Kurt Busch +2000
- Ross Chastain +2500
- Christopher Bell +3000
- Austin Cindric +3500
- Austin Dillon +4000
- Chris Buescher +5000
- Chase Briscoe +5000
- Harrison Burton +6000
- Aric Almirola +7000
2022 Wise Power 400 Practice Runs
On the 85th birthday of his car owner, Roger Penske, the 23-year-old NASCAR Cup Series rookie Cindric beat Bubba Wallace to the finish line by .036 seconds in overtime to win Sunday’s 64th running of the Daytona 500. Cindric held off Wallace and Chase Briscoe (.091 seconds behind) to notch his first Cup victory in his eighth start in the series.
Cindric was the leader when the race restarted on Lap 200, and at the end of a two-lap scramble — after blocking a strong run from Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney — he arrived at the finish line roughly three feet ahead of Wallace, who was runner-up in the Great American Race for the second time.
When they engrave Cindric’s name onto the Harley J. Earl Trophy, he will be there by doing something only nine of the 64 drivers listed on the award have accomplished before, earning his first career Cup Series victory in the sport’s biggest event. Cindric joined a group that includes Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001), Trevor Bayne (2011), and Michael McDowell (2021).
Cindric won the 2020 championship in NASCAR’s second-largest national circuit, the Xfinity Series, and came within .03 seconds of winning a second consecutive title last fall. In 133 career Xfinity starts, he earned 13 wins and finished in the top 10 66% of the time. So the Daytona 500 wasn’t a fluke, although Cindric isn’t among the favorites for the Wise Power 400.
Who have the best odds to win the 2022 Wise Power 400?
The defending champion of this race is Alex Bowman but that race was held in 2020 – there wasn’t one last year. It was canceled and moved to the Daytona road course (Go Bowling 235) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bowman led 110 laps two years ago and managed to stay out front after the final pit stops before cruising to the checkered flag in a smooth, fairly uneventful race featuring only one caution outside of the stage breaks. Bowman is an Arizona native who grew up racing almost weekly in nearby Pomona. It was Bowman’s first Top-10 finish in five races at the Fontana track.
He posted an average speed of 170.184 mph and finished nine seconds in front of second-place Kyle Busch, who was the winner in Fontana in 2020. Kyle’s brother Kurt Busch came in third place, followed by Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and Denny Hamlin.
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin crashed and finished 37th Sunday’s race. Hamlin would get tangled in a multi-car crash on lap 62. He and several other drivers would get significant damage. Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota would suffer terminal damage and be retired to the garage area for the afternoon.
Which drivers should you keep in consideration for the 2022 Wise Power 400?
Oddsmakers are not expecting McDowell to repeat as he’s priced +5000. He was an even bigger underdog last year but got his first victory in the NASCAR Cup Series after the Team Penske cars of Keselowski and Logano collided while racing for the lead on the final lap. McDowell led only the final lap. He did have two previous top-fives at Daytona International Speedway (including a fifth in the 2019 Daytona 500).
Chase Elliott (+900 this week) finished second, followed by Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Hamlin. Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet was beside McDowell’s car entering the final corner when the final yellow flag flew, freezing the finishing order on the 200th and final lap.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson (+900) will start 2022 off the way he ended 2021 – out front. The 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver won the pole position for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 181.159 mph in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on Wednesday. For a record fifth consecutive year, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman (+1800) has also earned a front-row starting position in the Daytona 500. He’ll start the No. 48 Chevrolet second.
Who wins the 2022 Wise Power 400?
Ryan Blaney at +1400. He won the summer 2021 race at Daytona and was second to Hamlin in the 2020 Daytona 500.