Best Bets for Sonoma


The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Sonoma Raceway for the second road course race on the 2023 schedule. The Best Bets hit again last week with Kyle Busch at 11-1 odds, and they hit earlier this season with Tyler Reddick at 9-1 odds. I will do my best to keep the winning going, but the race at Sonoma is going to be a bit more difficult to handicap.

The race at Sonoma Sunday will be a bit different from what we had at the track last year. NASCAR will still award Stage Points, but they will not stop the race at the end of each Stage. Crew chiefs were able to plan out a pit strategy for the race last year, because they knew when the race would be stopped. The race Sunday will be more “old school” and that means it will likely turn into a fuel millage race. Most teams will try to run the entire race on one or two pit stops. This strategy could work out well, or it can completely backfire, depending on when the caution flags are waived. The elimination of the Stage breaks will bring more drivers into play Sunday.

We all know who the top drivers are on the road courses. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick and AJ Allmendinger have had a lot of success on the road courses. Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric and Michael McDowell dominated the race at Sonoma last year. I plan to bet on a few of the drivers who have had a lot of success on the road courses and a few of the drivers who ran well at the track last year.

* Chase Elliott (4), Kyle Larson (4) and Tyler Reddick (3) have won 11 of the last 15 road course races. It may be tough to keep these drivers out of Victory Lane Sunday. Reddick said on the SiriusXM “On Track Show” Monday, “Sonoma is my worst road course track. I am getting better, but I just have not figured out the breaking zones at Sonoma like I have at the other tracks.” I will bet on Elliott and Larson and fade Reddick Sunday.



* The odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook. The odds could change between the time of this article and the time you place your bet.

** The first number is the amount of money based on the second number (the amount of the wager). So, if you bet $1 on KYLE LARSON at 5-1 odds, you will win $5.


Here are my bets for Sonoma based on a $100 bankroll for the race….


CHASE ELLIOTT (5-1): Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have won 8 of the last 15 road course races, so I will have both Hendrick Motorsports drivers on my betting card as insurance policies this week. Elliott is currently 98 points below the cut line for making the playoffs. He needs a win to take the pressure off his team over the summer. His best tracks are the road courses. He has never won at Sonoma, but he has been really close. Elliott has the best Driver Ranking, best Average Running Position and an average finishing position of sixth since 2019 at Sonoma. He should be fired up after his return from his suspension.


KYLE LARSON (5-1): Well, at least we know where the No. 5 car will start the race Sunday. Larson is almost a lock to start on the pole. He has won the pole at his home track in every race since 2016. Larson dominated a large portion of this race last year. Larson destroyed the field at Sonoma in 2021. The No. 5 car won the pole, won every Stage, led 57 of the 60 laps and went to Victory Lane at Sonoma in 2021. I would not be shocked if that kind of dominance happened again Sunday for Larson. I will not win a lot of money by betting Larson, but at least I will not lose money if he wins.


DANIEL SUAREZ (16-1): Getting the defending race champion at 16-1 odds seems pretty good to me. Suarez has the third-best driver rating at Sonoma behind Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. He has led the second-most laps at the track since 2019 and he has the fourth-best average finishing position. He is just too good at this track to fade at his current odds.  


CHRIS BUESCHER (20-1): I can get the driver with the third-best average finishing position on road courses over the last two seasons and the driver who finished second in this race last year at 20-1 odds? I will take it. Buescher has finished his last six road course races in the top-10. The No. 17 team probably knows that they need a win in order to secure a playoff spot. The road courses are the best chances for Buescher to get to Victory Lane, so I expect crew chief Luke Lambert to be aggressive with his strategy Sunday to help Buescher get the track position he needs to win the race.


AUSTIN CINDRIC (20-1): The chances of pit strategy determining the winner Sunday are really high. The teams need a fast car, a good driver and some luck with their strategy in order to get to Victory Lane at Sonoma. The No. 2 car is always fast at this track and Cidric is one of the better road course drivers in the field. He likely needs a win to make the playoffs, so I expect crew chief Jeremy Bullins to try his best to pull a rabbit out of the hat Sunday to ensure Cindric is drinking the wine in Victory Lane.


LONG SHOT BETS: MICHAEL MCDOWELL (45-1): The first thing I did when the odds were released was to find McDowell on the list. I was hoping that DraftKings Sportsbook would not make his odds similar to the drivers from the well-funded team. Well, they kept McDowell in the longshot category, so now I am interested. McDowell finished third in this race last year. His team proved last week when they took two tires on nearly every pit spot that they are willing to gamble with pit strategy. Maybe it will work out for them at one of McDowell’s best tracks.


Good luck Sunday!

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