The Coca-Cola 600 is in the books and the series heads out west to the Sonoma Raceway for the first time in two years for the running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. This race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. So the questions are has the track changed? If so, how much and will the teams notes from past years make a difference?
TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350
This is another of the many road course races on the schedule this year. After this race the teams will head to Texas for the All-Star race before getting back to finding out who can qualify for the playoffs as the season winds down. After this race there will only be ten more races left before those playoffs start and those without a win will be pushing hard to get it so they don’t have to worry about making it in on points.
Chase Elliott: Chase has been the driver to beat lately on all of the road courses. He is still looking for his first win at Sonoma although he has only run four races here. He did lead a few laps in his last race here before losing an engine. His best finish is a fourth place finish which came two race ago at this track. Even without him having a win here yet it’s hard not to have him on your roster.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has won the last two races at Sonoma. With that being said and with how well he had been running on the intermediate tracks until last weekend, I don’t think I want to use him up here. Hard to do with his latest accomplishments here, but the way Chase has run on these tracks I think I can take that chance. He will probably still finish in the top five here and might even win.
Kyle Busch: Kyle came up just short the last time the series was here finishing second to Martin. He hasn’t finished worse than seventh in his last five starts at this track and has two career wins. The only other issue is that Kyle doesn’t usually finish in the top ten in the stages. In fact, he has only finished in the top ten in a stage once here. That means he might not be consistent enough to consider using him this week either.
Kevin Harvick: Not the first person you think of when you are looking for starters for a road course race, but this is one of those tracks where Kevin runs better than the rest of them. He hasn’t finished worse than sixth in his last five starts and that includes a win a few years ago. This team has struggled most of the season and if you have a bunch of starts with him left you might consider using him this week.
Denny Hamlin: Denny is someone you might think of when setting your lineup at a road course, but he has yet to win at this track. He has run much better and more consistent in his last four races here than he had previous to that. In his last four he has three top five and four top ten finishes. In the six races he ran before that streak he only cracked the top twenty once.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has been very consistent throughout his career at this track. He has one win and hasn’t finished outside the top fifteen in his last nine starts at this track. He is someone we will strongly consider having in out B list lineup this week. He might not be running as well as he did the last couple of seasons, but this is a different type of track and I think his consistency here will show through.
Kyle Larson: Last week’s winner has never run really well here in his six starts. That’s not to say that he hasn’t been one of the fastest cars here. In fact, he sat on the pole for his last three starts and in the top five in each of his six starts at Sonoma. The issue seems to be not making mistakes during the race. I don’t know if it’s bad timing on pit stops or what, but this team doesn’t seem to come away with the results they are expecting here. That could all change now that he’s with Hendrick and I think he might be the drivers to beat. Even better than Chase, but do we want to use him here when he’s been so dominant most everywhere else?
William Byron: William has only run two races at Sonoma which doesn’t give us much to look at. In those two races his best finish was nineteenth which he accomplished in his last race. What that doesn’t tell us is that he won the first stage and finished third in the second stage of that race before falling back in the final stage. He also lead twenty-one laps in that race which is also a good sign. Worth taking a chance on this weekend.
Ryan Newman: Another driver who has never won at this track but might be worth taking a chance on this week. In his only race here with Roush/Fenway Racing Ryan finished seventh. Throughout his career which spans eighteen races at this track he has only finished outside the top twenty twice. He might not have what it takes to win this race, but he should give you a chance at a solid finish while saving some starts for other drivers.
Erik Jones: Another driver I think is worth taking at shot with this week. Erik has run consistently well on the road courses in his short career. He has back to back to ten finishes at this track and has finished fourteenth and sixteenth in his two road course races this year. I think this team should have what it takes to come away with a top ten finish this week if they can keep from making huge mistakes on the track.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR SONOMA RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game Group B
- Kurt Busch
- Erik Jones
Driver Group Game Group C
- Chase Briscoe
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT SONOMA RACEWAY
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Larson
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Bubba Wallace
Big 18: Chase Elliott