The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is on Sunday afternoon, and while we have seen strategy come into play at road courses more often than not, it’s virtually guaranteed that it’s going to play a factor here at Sonoma this weekend, as this is the first time the Stages will be introduced here. Handicapping a road course race is usually difficult, so there are a couple things to keep in mind: 1.) starting position means nothing, as running one fast lap doesn’t translate to good race trim speed, and 2.) expect the unexpected. Time and time again we have seen someone win out of nowhere here at Sonoma, and that’s why there’s only one active driver with multiple wins at this track (Kyle Busch with 2).
We had a bit of a different schedule this weekend, as there were two practice sessions on Friday followed by qualifying (and only qualifying) on Saturday The practice speeds from those two sessions can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour, and, as always, our in-depth notes can be found here: Practice #1 — Happy Hour. Kyle Larson is on the pole once again this weekend and the full starting lineup can be found by clicking here.
Final Top 25 Ranking For The Sonoma Toyota/Save Mart 350
1. Kyle Busch – Starts 4th – DraftKings Price: $10,200 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
If not for a phantom late debris caution at Michigan, this #18 team would be coming off of their first win of the 2017, but that’s just how things are going for Kyle Busch and his crew right now. With that being said, Rowdy has had a car capable of getting to victory lane for over a month now, and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. Will it be this weekend? Kyle is quite hit-or-miss here at Sonoma Raceway, but he is a two-time winner at this track–and the only active driver with multiple wins–and he came home 7th in this race one year ago. Speed-wise, Busch was 9th-fastest in Practice #1 this weekend and then wound up 2nd on the Happy Hour speed chart behind Kyle Larson. Finally, this #18 Toyota showed up on the ten-lap average chart in both of those practice sessions, which is a good indication that Kyle is happy with the car. If he has a bad finish here on Sunday, it won’t be because of the car.
2. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $10,300 – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Historically, Martin Truex, Jr. struggled here quite a bit at Sonoma Raceway, but then in 2013 (in his eight start at the track) he went to victory lane after starting 14th and leading about half of the laps in the race. Of course, you can probably attribute some of that to Clint Bowyer being his teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing at the time–thus helping to teach Truex how to race here–but at the same time, finding success at a road course is part of becoming an elite driver, and that’s what Martin is now in 2017. The #78 Toyota started 3rd and finished 5th in this race last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Truex got a similar result in this weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. He was the quickest driver in Practice #1 on Friday and then ranked 10th on the Happy Hour speed chart later that day. This #78 Toyota has some of the best speed on a weekly basis here in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and that will pay dividends here this weekend. Now it’s just up to the driver and team to have a mistake-free race on Sunday.
3. Kyle Larson – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $9,300 – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
This will be Kyle Larson’s fourth career start at Sonoma Raceway, and in his previous three attempts he has shown improvement with each passing year; Larson finished 28th in his first attempt here at Sonoma, and then wound up 15th in the 2015 race before coming home 12th in last year’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. So if that pattern continues, we should see a top 10 finish out of this #42 team on Sunday. But even if Larson never finished better than 20th here at Sonoma, you’d have to expect him to have a good run here this weekend. This #42 team is on fire this year, and they brought yet another hot rod to California this week; Kyle struggled a bit in Practice #1 but by the time Happy Hour rolled around he was the fastest car on the track and had the best ten-lap average, too. Larson probably shouldn’t be used in allocation leagues (such as Yahoo!) but in most other Fantasy NASCAR formats he is definitely a viable option this weekend. This race hasn’t been won from the pole since 2004 but that could change this weekend. Larson should lead quite a few laps on Sunday, and can you really go against him right now?