NASCAR will take their show to “wine country” this weekend for some road course racing at Sonoma. The Cup Series will bring their friends from the Xfinity Series to the track this weekend. It will be the first race at Sonoma for the Xfinity Series and many of the Cup Series superstars will be in the field for their race Saturday. The race Sunday is also the last race of the season for NASCAR on Fox. Is that a good thing? Fox has had their problems this year, but at least I do not have to dig up my Peacock password to watch practice. Here is the schedule for the racing at Sonoma…
The Cup Series just went through the spring schedule that had races at many intermediate tracks and short tracks. We used a lot of our top drivers in these races. NASCAR will compete at two road courses (Sonoma and Chicago), a superspeedway (Atlanta) and a trip to Pocono over the next month. This is the part of the schedule where we need to give the top drivers (Kyle Larson, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch) a break and take a chance with some of the drivers we have not used much this season.
Many of the top drivers dominated the first Stage at Sonoma last year. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano all ran up front. The second half of the race was dominated by Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher and Michael McDowell. The first driver that comes to mind when people think of road course racing is AJ Allmendinger, but he had a horrible race last year at Sonoma. Allmendinger did not lead a lap, did not score any Stage points and he had an average running position of 19th. His average finishing position in his last six races at Sonoma is 30th (Yes, 30th!!!!).
You can watch the extended highlights of the last year’s race at Sonoma here: NASCAR Race Rewind
STATS FOR ROAD COURSES
There has only been one race on a road course this year (COTA) and it was dominated by Tyler Reddick. Sonoma is a more technical track then COTA, but I will use the data from that race for the picks this week. I also want to look at the data from the race at Sonoma the last two seasons (so Sonoma gets more weight in the model) and the data from the other road course races last year.
Here are the stats from the races on the road courses last year and the race at COTA this season….
Some of the drivers who finished up front at Sonoma used pit strategy at the Stage breaks to gain track position. Strategy is going to determine the winner again Sunday, but it will not be as easy as it has been in the past. NASCAR will still award Stage points Sunday, but they will not stop the race at the end of each Stage. This makes the race more likely to be a fuel strategy race, just like it was before the Stages were added. The race this week will be tougher to predict, but my strategy is to play the drivers with a strong road course racing background, and if another driver wins because of strategy, so be it…
EARLY WEEK PICKS FOR SONOMA
ONE & DONE PICK: CHRIS BUESCHER
DRIVER GROUP GAME PICKS: CHASE ELLIOTT, KYLE LARSON, DANIEL SUAREZ, AUSTIN CINDRIC, CHRIS BUESCHR, MICHAEL MCDOWELL, AJ ALLMENDINGER, TY GIBBS
FANTASY LIVE PICKS: CHASE ELLIOTT, TYLER REDDICK, DANIEL SUAREZ, AUSTIN CINDRIC, MICHAEL MCDOWELL (GARAGE) CHRIS BUESCHER
* I will be watching JOEY LOGANO, RYAN BLANEY, AJ ALLMENDINGER, MARTIN TRUEX JR. and TY GIBBS in practice. They could end up in the Fantasy Live lineup this week.
Good luck this weekend!
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