The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete at one of my favorite tracks this week. If you have never been to Sonoma for a race, you need to add it to your bucket list. It is a beautiful part of the country and TV does not accurately show elevated this track is and how difficult it is for the drivers. The Toyota Owners / Save Mart 350 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.
* There are 11 races left in the regular season and 3 of them are on either a Superspeedway or Road Courses. So we need 8 starts from our stud drivers. I mapped out the rest of the season and I have enough starts to get us to the end of the regular season.
Fantasy Live Starting Drivers
Martin Truex Jr. (5): Truex has been awesome in Sonoma and he should be even better now that he is a part of Joe Gibbs Racing. Truex won the race last year in wine country and he had the car to beat in 2017 but he had engine failure. Truex has two wins at this track and he will be a serious threat to win his third Sunday. I have five allocations left with Truex so I have no problem using one of them on the road course.
Chase Elliott (5): Elliott is quickly becoming one of the best road course drivers in the sport. Last year he won at Watkins Glen, finished 6th on the Charlotte Roval and 4th at Sonoma. He has finished his last two races in Northern California in the top eight. The No. 9 car changed everything they could in practice to get the car to turn both left and right. At the end of practice the team said they hit on something.
Denny Hamlin (5): Hamlin has been very good on the road courses and he has been very consistent at Sonoma for the last three seasons. Hamlin finished 2nd in 2016, 4th in 2017 and 10th last year. He is also very good at running in the top 10 and scoring a lot of Stage points. Hamlin has one of the best long run cars in the field. He got snookered by Tony Stewart for the win at Sonoma in 2016. I doubt Hamlin will make the same mistake Sunday.
Clint Bowyer (5): This is not the race to try and save your allocation with Bowyer. He is the most consistent driver in the MENCS on the road courses. Bowyer has finished four of his last five road course races in the top five. Bowyer has also finished 3rd, 2nd, 40th (transmission problems) and 3rd at Sonoma since 2014. Bowyer had the best long run car in practice. This will be Bowyer’s best chance to win this season.
Kurt Busch (5): Busch will have some momentum heading into the race at Sonoma after his 2nd-place finish at Michigan. He really does not need it though. Busch has been a lock for a top-10 finish on the road courses since 2012. His average finishing position in the last 13 road course races is 8th place. That is very consistent. Busch has not finished outside the top 10 at Sonoma since 2014 and he has not finished outside the top 12 at the track in over a decade. This is a great race to use Busch in your lineups. He posted the second-fastest lap in final practice.
My Garage Driver this week will be Jimmie Johnson (7). He is not the first name that comes to mind when people think of road course racing, but he has been very consistent in his home state. Johnson has a 6.9 average finishing position in the last 11 races at Sonoma. That is a long time to consistently finish in the top 10. I am going to try and use an allocation with Johnson and save my top drivers for another track, but I will start him in the Garage just in case he is not as fast as I expect him to be.
Fantasy Live Picks for Sonoma
** Photos from NASCAR Media
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Good luck this week!
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