1) Kevin Harvick (Starting – 6th)
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – Kevin Harvick is the defending champion at Sonoma and I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeats. Sonoma has been a great track for him and in recent races he ranks among the best. Since 2015 he has the best driver rating, the best average finish (3.7), is tied for the best average running position (9.0) and has finished in the top 6 every race. In practice the #4 car was fast. In Happy Hour he had the best 10 & 15 lap averages. Also in that session Jeff Gordon mentioned how good his car looked handling during a long run. Being good over long runs at Sonoma is what separates the contenders from the pretenders. In practice #1 his 5 lap average ranked as the 2nd best. On Sunday look for Harvick to finish in the top five and be a serious threat to win.
Sonoma Track History – Since Kevin Harvick has been in the #4 at Sonoma, he’s arguably been the best performer in the series. Last year, Harvick had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. In addition to winning he earned the best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position and led 24 laps. His primary strength in the race was being good over long runs. In 2016 he also had a strong showing. In that race he finished 6th, earned the 6th best driver rating and had a 10th place average running position. In 2015 he was even more competitive. In that race he finished 4th and earned the 4th best driver rating. In 2014 at Sonoma he arguably had the best car, but when you look at his 20th place finish you would never know it. In that race prior to the first caution coming out he had a 12 second lead. With how the cautions fell he was cycled back to mid-pack and while he was working his way towards the front, Clint Bowyer spun and Harvick got some pretty severe looking damage from contact. When the checkered flag waved finished 20th, earned the 7th best driver rating and led 23 laps. In three of the four Sonoma races prior to that Harvick finished in the top ten.
DraftKings $11,700 / FanDuel $12,600
2) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 2nd)
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. is an elite road course racer who’ll be tough to beat at Sonoma. Last year he was arguably the best performer on this track type. He won at Watkins Glen, and at Sonoma he had one of the best cars but finished a misleading 37th after his engine blew up while running in 2nd. In Happy Hour, Truex said his car has good feel and has long run speed. When he likes his car, you know he’ll be good. On Sunday I would look for Truex to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Sonoma Track History – Sonoma has been a good track for Martin Truex Jr. He’s a former winner who’s been strong in recent incident free races. Last year he had a great car but finished a misleading 37th after his engine blew up. In the race he won Stage #1, led a race high 25 laps and earned the 4th best driver rating. Over long runs his car really shined. He was the fastest late in a run, and his green flag average speed ranked as the best. In 2016 he had a very strong car. When the checkered flag waved he earned the best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and finished 5th. In 2015 he had a short race and on lap 29 shortly after a restart he crashed into a tire barrier in turn 8. Prior to that restart he typically ran around 13th. In the four Sonoma races prior to that he had the 4th best driver rating, a 10.5 average running position, an 11.5 average finish and led 66 laps. In 2013 Martin Truex Jr. raced his way to victory lane. Additionally, he led 51 laps and earned the best driver rating by a wide margin.
DraftKings $10,700 / FanDuel $12,000
Further Recommended Reading: Post Practice Predictions (another fantasy take), Practice Notes/Practice Speeds Center, Likely Finish Ranges, DraftKings Playability Value Chart, FanDuel Playability Value Chart
3) Kyle Busch (Starting – 9th)
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – Kyle Busch is an elite road course racer who’ll be one of the favorites on Sunday. Over the last three seasons on this track type he’s ranked in the top five in terms of points accumulated. Last year he scored the 4th most points. Over the last six races on this track type he has a series best 4.7 average finish and has had a result in the top 7 every race. At Sonoma, Busch has performed at an elite level and in recent races he’s been one of the best. You’ll read more about that below. One attribute I like about Busch is how well he’s performing on a weekly basis. Over the last three races he has a 2.7 average finish and a 4.7 average running position. In Happy Hour, Busch’s five lap average ranked as the 9th best. On Sunday I would look for Busch to compete for a top five and be a factor to win.
Sonoma Track History – At Sonoma, Kyle Busch is a two-time winner who’s been one of the strongest drivers recently. Over the last three races he has the 2nd best average finish (4.3), the 3rd best driver rating and his 9.0 average running position is tied for the best. Last year, he had a strong showing. He finished 5th and earned the 6th best driver rating. That’s even more impressive when you take into account his race wasn’t incident free. In 2016 he was very strong and had one of the best cars. In the race he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and finished 7th. Performance wise I thought he was better than his result. In 2015 he likely had the 3rd best car but he raced his way to victory lane after being on new tires at the end. In addition to finishing 1st he earned the 3rd best driver rating, had an 8th place average running position and led 17 laps.
DraftKings $11,200 / FanDuel $12,200