NASCAR Roundtable: Will Harvick's win streak continue in California?

The Motorsport.com NASCAR team tackle this week's hot topics heading into the fifth race of the 2018 season at Auto Club Speedway.

NASCAR Roundtable: Will Harvick's win streak continue in California?
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's and Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA Auto Parts
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA Auto Parts
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's wins
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Credit One Bank
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Skittles Sweet Heat
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry NOS
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's celebrates his win
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Jimmy John's
Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Haas Automation
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Alliance Truck Parts
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation pit stop
Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Smithfield
Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro BRANDT Professional Agriculture
Elliott Sadler, JR Motorsports, Cessna Chevrolet Camaro
Elliott Sadler, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro OneMain Financial
Daniel Hemric, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro and Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Lowe's for Pros
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Lowe's for Pros
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Lowe's for Pros

Kevin Harvick has now won three races in a row and can become the first driver since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win a fourth straight this weekend in California. Do you believe he'll do it and if not, who would be the one to end the streak?

Jim: Given that Harvick has had some strong runs of late at Auto Club - he led the most laps and finished second in 2016 - and combine that with the strength and performance from the No. 4 team already this season, there is no reason Harvick can't come away with his fourth consecutive Cup series victory this weekend. As if he needs further motivation, Auto Club is his home track and he is racing in his hometown of Bakersfield on Thursday night. If the streak does come to an end, I see either Chase Elliott or Denny Hamlin knocking him off.

Nick: I actually don't think he'll win four in a row this weekend. If I had to make a prediction, either Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson will take the win instead. This is just a Larson kind of track that really compliments his driving style and as for Busch, he finished second to Harvick in the last two races and led the most laps at Phoenix. Let's not forget they've both Larson and Busch have won at Auto Club Speedway in the recent past too. They are the best bets to take down the No. 4.

Tim: While I feel Kevin Harvick can certainly win this weekend, if he doesn’t, I look for Kyle Larson to repeat at Auto Club. Larson was fast there last year and won in his home state. There’s no reason to think he won’t be in contention.

Tom: Kevin Harvick's start to the NASCAR Cup series season has been as unpredictable as it has impressive. Now though, the questions turn to how long this can go on for. Bouncing back from a penalty that truly fuelled his charge to win to get one back at his detractors, Harvick has the attitude and the car to continue. But I reckon the question of whether he can continue is almost moot, he has the car, the team and the ability to do so. Instead, Kyle Busch can answer the question. He led the most laps of anyone last weekend and is getting increasingly closer to Harvick's benchmark.

Stewart-Haas Racing had all four of its driver's finish in the top 10 for the first time in the history of the team. Other than Harvick, who do you think will be the next driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race?

Jim: Personally, I believe all four SHR drivers will have a win by the end of the season, but I think Clint Bowyer may be the next one to visit Victory Lane. His confidence seems to be growing and everyone knows if Bowyer believes he has a car capable of winning, he will push to get the most out of it.

Nick: Aric Almirola. Kurt Busch is probably the best bet, but I believe Almirola has a win in him soon. That No. 10 has been performing exceptionally well compared to previous years and Almirola has something to prove being the new shoe at SHR. 

Tim: I think Clint Bowyer will end a very long winless streak and get to Victory Lane very soon. I just wish I could be at the race track when he does to get an invite to the post-race party. I think it would be one to remember. He’s really rebounded this season and shown speed in the first four races. With the speed he's shown, I feel he could get a win before we get to Charlotte in May.

Tom: Aric Almirola has taken his SHR Ford to another level this season but hasn't got a win to show for it. He was immensely impressive on his debut at Daytona and after an average performance at Atlanta; he's starting to get even closer to a top finish. SHR now needs to get into a position where if Harvick misses out, it's Almirola, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer who take up the slack. Bowyer looks the more likely currently, having taken a podium at Atlanta. If he can stay in that lead pack consistently, it'll fall his way at some point as it has in the past.

Scott Riggs was the last NASCAR Xfinity Series 'regular' to win a race at Auto Club Speedway. Of the full-time NXS drivers who do you think has the best chance to win Saturday in California?

Jim: First off, that is an incredible streak dating back to 2002. If a series regular can end that drought, I see JR Motorsports drivers as the most likely to do it, namely Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler. They have run "best in class" in recent seasons behind the Cup drivers and have already showed they can run toe-to-toe with the best already this season.

Nick: It just shows what it takes to drive this track. But if I had to pick a regular, I'd go with the guy who is a former Cup winner -- Elliott Sadler. The veterans will prevail this weekend and despite being a full-time Xfinity Series driver, he has plenty of experience at the top level of NASCAR.

Tim: I agree with Jim on the streak and also feel that a JR Motorsport driver will be the one to end it. I think Elliott Sadler still has a chip on his shoulder for how his season ended last November at Homestead so for that reason alone I give him a slight edge over Justin Allgaier to grab a win. Then again, the way Allgaier has performed this season, it would be no surprise to see him take the checkered flag.

Jimmie Johnson has more wins at Auto Club than any other driver with six. Is this the weekend we see him finally score a top-10 finish?

Jim: If Johnson can't muster a good performance at Auto Club - where he has 16 top-10 finishes in 23 starts and six victories - then he definitely could be in trouble this season. Johnson won there as recently as two years ago but did struggle through the weekend one year ago. Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team appeared to turn a corner at Phoenix. I believe they will raise their performance to another level this weekend.

Nick: Although they improved at Phoenix, I actually don't think he will get it in California. The Chevrolet camp, especially Hendrick Motorsports seem a bit behind to start 2018 and Fontana is a track that should really show that disparity. 

Tim: With as well as he has raced at Auto Club Speedway, if Jimmie Johnson can’t score a top-10 this weekend, then I think he might be in trouble this season. Other than Dover, this is one track that I always think of Jimmie Johnson contending for wins. He still has to figure some things out, but I feel he’ll finally break into the top 10 this weekend.

Tom: It shows how out of form Jimmie Johnson is that we're discussing if he can make a top-10 spot. There have been some uncharacteristic errors from the multiple title-winning driver but his Hendrick team need to get on top of the new Camaro, which should give the foundation for Johnson to figure out how he gets back to his best without any distractions.

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