Sonoma Fantasy NASCAR Front Runner Rankings
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – Denny Hamlin has been elite at Sonoma but heading into the weekend, there’s safer options out there. In the Next Gen at road courses over the seven combined races, Hamlin’s never cracked the top ten, he’s only cracked the top 15 twice, his average finish is 18.4 and his Total Speed Ranking ranks 23rd. That said, Hamlin’s been great at Sonoma historically, and prior to the Next Gen era on this track type he ranked as one of the best so hopefully he can return to form.
Sonoma Track History – At Sonoma, Denny Hamlin has performed at a high-level. That said in the “What have you done lately column”, Hamlin finished a clunker 31st last year. Hamlin didn’t have a great race, but he wasn’t quite that bad. In the race, Hamlin had a 17th place average running position and was running in 21st on lap 100 before he made a pit strategy gamble pit stop late hoping to catch a lucky break caution. In terms of speed stats, Hamlin had the 11th best Total Speed Ranking and ranked 18th for speed late in a run. In the five Sonoma races prior to that, Hamlin’s 5.8 average finish ranked as the 2nd best. In 2021, Hamlin had a solid showing. In the race he finished 9th in Stage #2, finished 8th overall, had the 9th best Total Speed Ranking and was the 12th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In 2019, Hamlin had a great performance. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 4th, ranked as the 5th Fastest Driver Late In A Run, earned the 5th best driver rating and had the 6th best Total Speed Ranking. Additionally, Hamlin finished 2nd in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. In that race the #11 team was trying for a “Max Points” day with Stage points, which ultimately isn’t a real good strategy for trying to win. In the three races prior to that, Hamlin had results of 10th, 4th and 2nd.
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – At Sonoma, look for Alex Bowman to have a solid but not flashy showing. “Performance Wise”, I think he’ll be a high single-digit to low double-digit performer. That matches up with the #48’s weekly level of performance, how he’s run in the Next Gen on this track type and with how he’s historically performed at Sonoma. In the Next Gen at road courses minus Indy RC where he was swept up in the mayhem, Bowman has a 9.4 average finish, and that includes a strong 3rd at COTA this spring (5th best Total Speed Ranking).
Sonoma Track History – Alex Bowman has been solid at Sonoma and over the last four races, Bowman has a 12.0 average finish, a 13.4 average running position and he’s 4 for 4 at finishing between 9th to 16th. Last year at Sonoma, Alex Bowman was OK. In the race he finished 16th, had a 14.5 average running position and ranked 13th for Total Speed Rankings. I’ll note, Bowman did have a minor mishap, so his race wasn’t completely incident free. On lap 80 he was running in 6th, but then during a restart shortly after that Kyle Busch spun into him which cost him quite a few spots and on lap 88 he was shown to be back in 28th, so he drove hard to close out the race. In 2021, Bowman ran well. In the race he finished 5th in Stage #1, 3rd in Stage #2, finished 9th when the checkered flag waved, had the 6th best Total Speed Ranking and was the 13th Fastest Driver Late In A Run. In the two races prior to that, Bowman had results of 14th and 9th.
Sonoma Fantasy Spin – At Sonoma, I’m going to view Christopher Bell as a risky top ten contender. Bell’s shown potential here, but his track record is super bad. In terms of speed at road courses in the Next Gen, Bell has the 9th best Total Speed Ranking over the combined events.
Sonoma Track History – Christopher Bell has a really bad track record at Sonoma. He’s 2 for 2 at finishing in the 20’s and his average finish is 25.5. Last year, Bell finished 27th but I’ll note his race wasn’t incident free. Bell was penalized for pitting outside his pit box late in Stage #1, but the more deflating blow was that he was in 14th with 16 to go, but then pitted a few laps later hoping to catch a lucky break caution. In terms of Speed Rankings, Bell ranked 20th. In 2021, Bell looked solid in his track debut, but when the checkered flag waved, he finished an asterisk mark 24th. “Performance Wise”, Bell was a top ten contender. In the race, Bell finished 10th in Stage #2, was the 10th Fastest Driver Late In A Run and had the 12th best Total Speed Ranking. On lap 78, Bell was involved in a wreck which damaged the #20. On lap 72 shortly before that he was running in 6th. I’ll also note, early in the race on lap 4, Bell made an unexpected pit stop because of fuel pressure problems.