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Daily Fantasy NASCAR Race Preview & Picks for DraftKings - Toyota/Save Mart 350
Chris Durell will be bringing you his weekly race breakdown, top trends, and pre-qualifying targets to help you cash on DraftKings and FanDuel. You can also grab a copy of his free DFS NASCAR Cheatsheet that includes a ton of stats and a customizable model.
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Toyota/Save Mart 350
Sonoma Raceway - Sonoma, CA
Track - 1.99 Mile Road Course
After an off-week for Father's Day, the Monster Energy Cup Series gets back on track for the first road course race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. The road courses are all unique in their own way with Sonoma tighter and more technical of the tracks. This year will also be different as Sonoma has brought back the "carousel" between turns three and seven for the first time since 1997 meaning no driver has raced this circuit in the Cup series. It adds a long sweeping left-hand turn into the drag strip straight away and adds another opportunity for passing going into Turn 7. It should make for some exciting racing for the fans and also add some strategy and setup issues for the race teams. Buckle up!
Looking at the race from a fantasy perspective, finishing position is more important than ever with just 110 laps in the race. Only once in the last five races here at Sonoma has a driver led more than 50 laps and only twice in the last six races has there been more than two drivers to lead 20 or more laps. While you would think the correlation between starting and finishing position would be high on a track like this, it hasn't exactly been that way lately. We have seen sub .500 correlation here in two straight and three of the last four races here and five or fewer drivers starting Top 10 and finishing there in four of the last five races here.
Let's take a look at some track and track type history with some form trends and then dig into the picks.
- Practice #1 - Friday @ 2:40 pm ET
- Practice #2 - Friday @ 5:40 pm ET
- Inspection - Saturday before Qualifying
- Qualifying - Saturday @ 3:10 pm ET
- Race - Sunday @ 2:00 pm ET
Last Six Winners at Sonoma
- 2018 - Martin Truex Jr.(started 2nd)
- 2017 - Kevin Harvick(started 12t)
- 2016 - Tony Stewart(started 10th)
- 2015 - Kyle Busch(started 11th)
- 2014 - Carl Edwards(started 4th)
- 2013 - Martin Truex Jr.(started 14th)
Track History at Sonoma
Stewart-Haas teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer have dominated here at Sonoma over the short-term. Harvick has finished 6th or better in four straight races here including a win in 2017 and runner-up last year and has also led 24 and 35 laps in those last two races. Bowyer finished 3rd last year and 2nd to Harvick in 2017 and has a win, eight Top 5's, and 10 Top 10 finishes here at Sonoma in 13 career races.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. also stand out when looking at Sonoma history. After winning his first race here back in 2008, Busch struggled and finished outside the Top 10 in the next six races(four outside Top 20). He has since rebounded in a big way finishing 7th or better in four straight including his second career win here in 2015. Truex has not been nearly as consistent with just four Top 10's in 13 career races but two of them were wins, the latest coming last season when he dominated leading 62 laps on the way to Victory Lane. Denny Hamlin has also been consistent here with three straight Top 10's after a career of underwhelming here.
Don't overlook Hendrick MotorSports here at Sonoma. Chase Elliott has gotten better with each trip finishing 21st in 2016, 8th in 2017, and 4th last year. Alex Bowman struggled here before coming over to HMS where he posted a 9th place finish last season. Jimmie Johnson has just one career win here(2010) but is second to only Bowyer in career average finish(12.4) thanks finishing 13th or better in 10 straight races here.
One other driver that stands out is Kurt Busch who has Top 10's in four straight and seven of his last eight trips to Sonoma including a win back in 2011.
Track Type History(Road Courses)
There are now three tracks in this category with Charlotte converting into road course for the Playoff race. While all three tracks are completely different, it does take a certain skillset(patience mostly) to succeed on this track type so let's look at some drivers who have excelled.
Looking at all the active drivers in the Cup Series, only Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. have won a race at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Truex was also one turn away from taking home the inaugural Charlotte Road Course trophy but was taken out by Jimmie Johnson allowing Ryan Blaney to cross the finish line first.
Chase Elliott's name pops up as he has a win at Watkins Glen in three races and has Top 10 finishes in two of his three races here at Sonoma. Clint Bowyer is right up there as well as he finished 3rd at the Charlotte Roval and has finished 11 or better in five straight road course races. Finally, we can't talk road course form without mentioning Kurt Busch who is the only driver with a Top 10 in each of the last five road course races and taking it further he has Top 10's in 11 of his last 13 races with the two non-Top 10's 11th and 12th place finishes.
With his win at Michigan before the off-week, Joey Logano jumped into the points lead and is doing a fine job as a champion in 2019. It was his second win and 8th Top 5 and 11th Top 10 both second to only Kyle Busch. That form will be tested this week as road courses, specifically Sonoma have been Joey's kryptonite.
It took Alex Bowman 10 races this season to get his first Top 10 but he hasn't looked back since as he now has five in his last six races. That includes a stretch of three straight runner-ups at Talladega, Dover, and Kansas which is even more impressive considering all three tracks are very different. Bowman's teammate, Chase Elliott, had a down race with a 20th a Michigan but had been terrific before that with a stretch of five straight Top 5 finishes including a win at Talladega.
Brad Keselowski(8.8) and Kyle Busch(9.8) round out the Top 5 in my form ranks and are the only other two drivers with a sub 10.0 average finish in the last six races. Keselowski has finished 6th or better in three of his last four with a win at Kansas while Kyle has rebounded from his season-worst 30th place finish at Kansas with three straight Top 5's including his fourth win of the season at Pocono.
**These picks come before qualifying on Saturday so be sure to check the Members Only cheatsheet or watch the post-qualifying video for my final picks.**
It is rare that the Top 2 drivers in my model come in the sub $10K range on DraftKings but here we are. Let's start with Boywer who has podium finishes(2nd, 3rd) in his last two races here and Top 5's in six of his last eight at the track including a win in 2012. Looking at the practice data from Friday, Bowyer was one of just three drivers to rank Top 10 in both practices(7th, 4th) and posted the fastest 10-lap and second-fastest 15-lap average in final practice. He is #1 in my model and is an elite PTS/$ play this week.
Busch comes in #2 in my model and it starts with consistency here at Sonoma. He returns with Top 10 finishes in four straight and seven of his last eight races here(other finish-12th) including a win in 2011. He struggled in first practice coming in 17th but found the lap speed in the final practice ranking 4th overall and 10th in 10-lap and 6th in 15-lap averages. I will have a ton of exposure to Busch in all formats and will be pairing him with Bowyer in a lot of GPP builds.
Bowman has been trending upwards for some time now as he enters this week with Top 10's in five of his last six races including three straight runner-up finishes. He now returns to Sonoma where he has limited experience but did finish 9th here last year in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports. he joins Bowyer as one of the three drivers to finish Top 10 in both practices(6th, 8th) and also finished 2nd in 10-lap and 1st in 15-lap averages in the final practice. He is an elite play in all formats this week.
Chris Durell has been playing Daily Fantasy Sports for five years and fantasy in general for more than a decade. He is an active player in NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, and of course NASCAR. He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jager_Bombs9 for advice, strategy, answers to any NASCAR questions or how he copes with the winters up north.