The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to California’s Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota Save Mart 350 Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET. It's the first of two road course races this season, a new curveball for your daily fantasy lineup.
ELITE TIER: $9,500 and up
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,300)
Sonoma: 11 starts, one win, two top fives (18.2 percent), three top 10s (27.3 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 19.5
Martin won the first two stages of the race last weekend at Michigan, but ultimately came up short during the final stage, finishing sixth. He slipped back to second in series points, settling in behind race winner Kyle Larson. Those two have been swapping positions all season long while no one else is even close atop the charts.
Truex won Sonoma in his final season with Michael Waltrip Racing back in 2013. During that win, he led 51 of the 110 laps. Last season, Martin finished fifth after starting from the second row, his second top five in 11 races at this track.
Truex was impressive on the two road courses last season and his Furniture Row Racing team is running well everywhere. He has a chance to pick up his second career win at Sonoma on Sunday.
Kyle Busch ($10,200)
Sonoma: 12 starts, two wins, two top fives (16.7 percent), four top 10s (33.3 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 18.1
Busch is the only active driver with more than one career win at Sonoma. His last victory here came two seasons ago in 2015. Leading 17 laps, he climbed his way through the field from the 11th starting spot. Busch has led laps in the last two Sonoma races and finished seventh in this event last year.
Busch is still looking for that ever elusive first win of the 2017 season. He has led laps in seven straight races heading into Sonoma, and was in prime position to cash in last week. Unfortunately, a call by interim crew chief Ben Beshore to stay out on old tires during a late caution was the nail in the coffin.
Busch has five top-10 finishes in the past six races, and is running as good as possible without winning. Luckily for us, winning isn’t everything when it comes to DraftKings. All we need is another strong run on Sunday.
AJ Allmendinger ($9,500)
Sonoma: Eight starts, two top 10s (25 percent), five top 15s (62.5 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 20.9
Allmendinger is the resident “road course specialist” in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His lone MENCS win came at Watkins Glen in 2014. He has two XFINITY Series wins in 10 career starts, both at road courses. He also made six IndyCar starts in 2013.
But when it comes to Sonoma, AJ has underwhelmed, even though he has been the favorite for the past three seasons. He has three straight front row starts, including the pole in 2015. But in 2014 and '15, he finished the race 37th, all despite leading 36 laps between the two races.
Allmendinger finished 14th last season, a bit better but still not meeting expectations. He started the race strong and was aggressive in getting up front early, leading 20 laps. As the race went on, he fell back through the pack.
This year, if the 'Dinger can remain aggressive he might be rewarded with a surprise victory. The No. 47 team puts all the chips on the table for this race.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,500 – $9,400
Clint Bowyer ($9,400)
Sonoma: 11 starts, one win, six top fives (54.5 percent), eight top 10s (72.7 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 11.5
Bowyer was making a run at a top-10 finish last week when the caution flag flew for debris with 21 laps to go. After the ensuing restart, Bowyer hit the wall and ended any chance he had at a good finish. The result was the second time in three races he failed to crack the top 25.
Before an electrical issue just five laps into last season’s Sonoma race, Bowyer had a five race top-10 streak, one that included a win in 2012. He has a series best 11.5 average finish position through 11 starts here. Clint has mastered this track and now that he is back in top equipment, he will go into this weekend expecting a win.
Bowyer’s DraftKings salary was $6,800 last week, and even after the 26th-place finish, his salary is up to $9,400 for Sonoma. That is a testament to just how great he is on this track. Make sure you pick him.
Denny Hamlin ($8,900)
Sonoma: 11 starts, two top fives (18.2 percent), three top 10s (27.3 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 20.8
Last season, Hamlin was king at the two road courses. He finished runner up to Tony Stewart in this race after Stewart gave him a “love tap” on the last lap to secure the win. Later in the season, Hamlin took a win of his own at Watkins Glen. That 1.5 average finish at road courses last season led all drivers.
Hamlin has not fared well historically at Sonoma, but he has improved over the past two seasons. Prior to 2015, He had a five-race streak of finishes of 23rd or worse. Since then, he has finished 18th, and then earned the aforementioned second-place result.
Jamie McMurray ($8,500)
Sonoma: 14 starts, two top fives (14.3 percent), two top 10s (14.3 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 16.3
McMurray is another driver who has a sports car background, which comes in handy during the MENCS road events. He has a Weathertech SportsCar Championship series win under his belt, as well as a podium finish in the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series. Both of those events were held at Daytona.
At Sonoma, McMurray has two top-five finishes in 14 starts. The latest came in 2014 when he finished fourth after starting from the pole. He led nine laps in that race.
McMurray has been one of the most consistent drivers this season, He has an average finish of 13.4, which ranks seventh among all series regulars. He is also tied for third with nine top-10 finishes.
BARGAIN TIER: $4,500 – $8,400
Kasey Kahne ($8,000)
Sonoma: 13 starts, one win, two top fives (15.4 percent), six top 10s (46.2 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 17.5
Over the past four seasons, Kahne has four straight top-10 results at Sonoma. In all four of those events, Kahne started 15th or worse. Positive position differential is the one stat to hope for with Kahne, since he has not been running up front with consistency over the past few seasons.
While Kahne’s average finish at Sonoma is 17.5 for his career, over the past eight races, that number is a much better 8.5. He had six top-10 finishes within that span, including a win in 2009.
It’s understandable to be hesitant when looking at Kahne for a middle-of-the-road driver. But his resume at Sonoma cannot be ignored.
Ryan Newman ($7,900)
Sonoma: 15 starts, two top fives (13.3 percent), seven top 10s (46.7 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 12.3
Newman sits in second behind Bowyer in average finishing position at Sonoma with a mark of 12.3. While he doesn’t have a win at the track, he does have seven top-10 finishes in 15 starts. He finished eighth in 2016 and ninth in 2015.
Newman is currently riding a four-race top-15 streak, which includes a fourth-place finish at Dover three weeks ago. Expect him to continue that Sunday.
Paul Menard ($7,400)
Sonoma: Nine starts, one top five (11.1 percent), three top 15s (33 percent)
Average finish at Sonoma: 18.0
Over the past four Sonoma races, Menard has an average finish of 12th. He set a career high with a fifth-place result in 2014. He led three laps early in the race last season, but tapered off after, which resulted in a finishing position of 16th, his worst in four races here.
If Menard can continue to finish around the 12th spot, that will be more than enough from a back end-of-the-roster type driver. In three of the past four races, he finished higher than his starting spot. If Menard has a tough day of qualifying, he will deserve a look for Sunday.
(Photo by ASP Inc.)