We’re at the serpentine track of Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the first road course race of the season. These races are typically more frustrating than anything for Fantasy NASCAR players, simply because of how things are constantly changing. Teams will be making strategy calls all day long on Sunday (usually fuel gambles), and let’s not forget about cars randomly spinning or going off course with no caution being thrown. In a way, road course races are a bit like restrictor plate races from a Fantasy NASCAR perspective, but more predictable (plus talent shines at a track like Sonoma).
The practice schedule was a bit different this weekend, as the Monster Energy Cup Series teams had two practices on Friday before the qualifying session on Saturday. You can see the two practice charts here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour. You can read our in-depth notes for those sessions here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour. Kyle Larson is on the pole for the second Sonoma race in a row, and the full starting lineup for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 can be found by clicking here.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Sonoma
1. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 2nd – DraftKings Price: $10,700 – FanDuel Price: $12,000
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Martin Truex, Jr. is a previous winner here at Sonoma (2013) but lately he’s been pretty hit or miss. For example, Truex started 3rd and led 25 laps in this race last year but ended up finishing 37th thanks to an engine failure. The #78 Toyota didn’t have any issues in 2016, though, and came home 5th, although that followed the 2015 event where Truex wrecked into a tire barrier on a restart and ended up finishing 42nd. So, to sum it all up, over the last three years this team has had bad finish-good finish-bad finish, so if that trend continues, Truex should be on track for a good finish this weekend. As far as speed goes, the #78 Toyota was 8th-fastest in the opening practice this weekend and then 3rd-fastest in Happy Hour. Martin said the car has good long run speed, but him being 7th-best in five-lap average doesn’t really back that up. Still, Truex should contend for a top 5 on Sunday as long as he stays out of trouble. He did run into Bubba Wallace late in Happy Hour on Friday and got some major front end damage, but considering the #78 Toyota was back on track after that, I can’t imagine the team is too concerned about it.
2. Kevin Harvick – Starts 6th – DraftKings Price: $11,700 – FanDuel Price: $12,600
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Surprise, surprise, Kevin Harvick will be a factor here at Sonoma this weekend. Not only is he the defending champion of this event, but he also owns the best average finish (3.7) over the last three races at this track, as well as the best average running position (9th) and the best average driver rating (113.9). So, yeah, he’s pretty good here. As far as the speed charts this weekend, Harvick was 12th-fastest in the opening session and then jumped up to 5th-fastest in Happy Hour. What’s noteworthy with that final session, though, is how long Harvick stayed out on the track; most drivers didn’t make a super long run in Happy Hour on Friday, and Harvick usually only does that if he really likes the car. He ran the 3rd-most laps in that session, and had the best 10- and 15-lap average. As far as Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 goes, the #4 Ford is definitely strong enough to win without any strategy calls, but this team always has that option because of the wins they have in the bag already. Don’t be surprised if Rodney Childers does something out of the ordinary on Sunday–and those types of moves typically work out for him.
3. Clint Bowyer – Starts 19th – DraftKings Price: $9,300 – FanDuel Price: $11,700
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Clint Bowyer’s somewhat surprising win at Michigan a couple of weeks ago ended the little rut he was in in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and now we’re at one of his best tracks on the schedule. In other words, look for Bowyer to have another good race here at Sonoma on Sunday. As far as the practice sessions went, Clint was the fastest in the opening session of the weekend and then ended up 17th-fastest on the Happy Hour chart. That’s not too concerning, though, because the #14 team was focusing on long runs this weekend, and Bowyer has one of the most consistent cars as the laps tick away. As far as history at Sonoma, Clint has the best average finish (10.7) of all active drivers here and has posted seven top 5 finishes in his twelve career starts (58.3%). He had an electrical issue here in 2016 and finished 40th, but he was in HScott Motorsports equipment then, so you can throw that out. Bowyer came home 2nd in this race last season and has ended up inside the top 5 in five of his last seven starts at Sonoma. Look for him to make it six of the last eight here on Sunday, and possibly add a third win for the 2018 season as well.