Kasey Kahne is officially a contender.

Kahne’s win a Bristol may have cost me 50 fake dollars, but it put Kahne into a different stratosphere with those predicting Sprint Cup success, one that might change how you watch Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Kahne has excelled on bigger faster tracks. The fact he won at Bristol shows Kahne’s game is more rounded. Oddsmakers have since taken notice.

Even at tracks where Kahne does well, rarely he is lower than 10/1. This week, only Jimmie Johnson has lower odds. But here’s the catch. Johnso owns this track with two more wins here than any other active driver. In 16 starts, Kahne has just one win. Plus, nine other active drivers have a better average finishing position.

The only reason Kahne is 8/1 is because really smart people believe Kahne has a chance to win every week. There are a handful of drivers you can say that about, and this week that list grew by one.

I’m down 50 fake dollars and not going with Kahne. Here are my fake picks for the sake of entertainment alone.

13 fake dollars on Matt Kenseth at 8/1
Kenseth and Gordon each have three wins here. Roush Fenway cars have won here five of the last eight years, and that formula helped Kenseth earlier this year in a Toyota.

10 fake dollars on Carl Edwards at 12/1
See Kenseth, and insert a picture of a surly Jack Roush.

10 fake dollars on Tony Stewart at 12/1
Stewart won this race last year and hasn’t had a great run in 2012. Either he’s this year’s "Jeff Gordon Bad Vibe" award or he bounces back.

10 fake dollars on Jeff Gordon at 12/1
Gordon can’t win the award two straight years….

7 fake dollars on Clint Bowyer at 20/1

Bowyer has the highest active finish among active drivers without a win.  

Here’s what The Spread thinks. Enjoy California racing, and insert random catchphrase here.

For the Season:

  • One Win
  • Four Losses
  • Down 50 fake dollars.

Jimmie Johnson 6/1
Brad Keselowski 8/1
Kasey Kahne 8/1
Matt Kenseth 8/1
Kyle Busch 8/1
Denny Hamlin 10/1
Greg Biffle 12/1
Jeff Gordon 12/1
Dale Earnhardt Jr 12/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Kevin Harvick 12/1
Carl Edwards 12/1
Clint Bowyer 20/1
Martin Truex Jr 20/1
Brian Vickers 25/1
Joey Logano 40/1
Ricky Stenhouse 50/1
Ryan Newman 60/1
Kurt Busch 100/1
Paul Menard 100/1
Jeff Burton 100/1
Marcos Ambrose 100/1
Aric Almirola 100/1
Juan Montoya 100/1
Jamie McMurray 100/1
Danica Patrick 300/1
AJ Allmendinger 300/1
Field (Any Other Driver) 50/1