Chris Buescher sits in his No. 34 prior to the start of qualifying for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Saturday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy / The Racing Experts
By Zachary Lange
June 26, 2016
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
This weekend, the
NASCAR Sprint Cup series gets the rare opportunity to turn left and right at
Sonoma Raceway in sunny Northern California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Unlike most road courses, the race Sunday doesn’t feature any real “road course ringers,” with specialty in the craft of road course racing.
This race will feature Dylan Lupton making his debut in the series for BK Racing. Here are some drivers fantasy owners will want to buy and sell this Sunday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
If a driver as humble as Dale Earnhardt Jr. is tweeting as confidently as this after first practice, the field should break a sweat.
Despite Junior’s average finish being 17th (17.2) in the past five races at Sonoma he ended first practice in the fourth position.
Junior will start Sunday’s race 13th. However, Junior is still a very safe pick for Sunday.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson is another safe bet for the weekend.
Johnson is one of two active drivers that has five consecutive top-ten finishes at Sonoma (the other being Clint Bowyer).
With an average finish of seventh (6.8) and a win in 2010, look for Johnson to contend for a revisit to victory lane.
Unlike his Joe Gibbs Racing counterparts, Denny Hamlin has struggled in Wine Country. With an average finish of 28th (27.8), and no top-five or top-ten finishes in the past five races at Sonoma, it is hard to assume the trend can be broken.
First practice ended with Hamlin finishing in 16th. If Hamlin came at a cheaper cost, it could be a stretch but beneficial given JGR’s great success this season, but the cons overweigh the pros. He starts eleventh Sunday.
I’m grouping every single driver making their first attempt at Sonoma in the sell category because, simply put, road course racing is a new monster for these drivers to tackle.
A rookie hasn’t won Sonoma since 2007 in Juan Pablo Montoya, but Montoya had open-wheel experience before stock car racing. Mistakes will be made, wrecks by rookies wouldn’t be shocking, it’ll be best if you avoid them all.
The highest starting rookie, Chase Elliott will roll off pit road 16th, Brian Scott is starting 22nd, Ryan Blaney 26th and Chris Buescher 36th.
LOW RISK, HIGH REWARD
Having run an entire season in Indy Lights and select races in IndyCar before the switch to NASCAR, Mears is an interesting lost cost pick fantasy owners may want to look at.
A lot of his recent finishes at Sonoma range between 13th to 16th, and he owns an average finish of 23rd in the past five races at Sonoma.
Mears will start 14th.
Zach’s Draft Kings Lineup:
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson $10,100
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. $9,700
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger $9,600
No. 42 Kyle Larson $8,300
No. 43 Aric Almirola $6,500
No. 13 Casey Mears $5,800