Driver Group Game Picks for Sonoma


The NASCAR Cup Series headed back to the west coast this week to race on another road course. This time the cars will compete at Sonoma Raceway. This will be the second road course race on the 2024 schedule (COTA was the first). The Cup Series will use the short track aero package this week. The racing hasn’t been great in this package, but the field is stack with talented drivers, so maybe we will get a close finish in wine country.

The Cup Series had a unique schedule for the Toyota / Save Mart 350. The teams had a 50-minute practice session Friday since the track was repaved during the off-season. They then lined up for their group qualifying session Saturday evening. We got to see practice before the lineups locked Saturday. I tried to use this information to our advantage. Hopefully knowing the driver’s speeds from Friday’s practice session will pay off Sunday.

Here is my starting lineup for the Toyota / Save Mart 350


CHASE ELLIOTT (9): Elliott has the most wins in the Cup Series on the road courses, but he has never won in the Gen-7 car. That could change this week. Elliott went out in practice and did not like his car. The No. 5 team made some adjustments and he went straight to the top of the speed chart. Elliott said on the radio that the adjustments worked and he was really close to having what he needs for Sunday’s race. Elliott posted the fifth-fastest speed in practice and qualified fourth for the race. I would not be surprised if Elliott was in Victory Lane Sunday at Sonoma.


ROSS CHASTAIN (6): Could the No. 1 car be a threat to win Sunday? He won at COTA in the Gen-7 car in 2022 and Chastain had one of the fastest cars in practice Friday. Chastain posted the second-fastest speed in race trim and he had the second-fastest long-run speed. He then went out and qualified ninth for the race. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was watermelons and wine in Victory Lane Sunday.

TY GIBBS (6): Could this be the week when Gibbs gets his first win in the Cup Series? The No. 54 car looks fast. Gibbs posted the second-fastest speed in practice and he qualified 10th for the race. Gibbs finished third (COTA), fourth (Charlotte Roval) and fifth (Watkins Glen) in his last three road course races. The trend should continue and Gibbs should score another top-10 finish in wine country.


AJ ALLMENDINGER (9): Allmendinger had a lot of speed in practice and he qualified 11th for the race? That is nothing new for Allmendinger. He also looks fast in practice and he always qualifies up front at Sonoma. Can Allmendinger run a full race without any problems? That has been tough for Allmendinger in his career. He is a boom or bust driver. When he is good, he is really good. When Allmendinger is bad, he is really bad. I will play the upside with Allmendinger and take a chance with him in my lineup.


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