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NASCAR Fantasy Picks: Best Sonoma Raceway Drivers for DraftKings

Sonoma Raceway

Get your roster set for some left and right turns out in Wine Country.

It’s time for NASCAR Cup Series drivers to venture to Wine Country, making both left and right turns at the road course of Sonoma Raceway. Let Frontstretch.com's Joy Tomlinson get your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings lineups prepped for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, airing Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on FS1.

The second road course of the season returns to a smaller, 1.99-mile layout featuring the chute instead of the carousel that was run in 2019 and 2021. It's not just a new layout that will challenge Cup drivers at Sonoma; it’ll be the first time they’ll hit the track driving the sport's new Next Gen chassis.

So, how do you prepare your daily fantasy (DFS) rosters for this event? Sonoma has favored just a handful of active drivers in recent years when it comes to victory lane; the technical road course leans toward those with the best skill set on this track type. So, don't look for an upset and study up on your track history; Watkins Glen International is a good comparison track when looking at who can master this particular layout.

The Cup Series has also made left and right turns in the Next Gen car at Circuit of the Americas; you can examine the results from there to get a sense of who's got an edge. Just keep in mind that AJ Allmendinger was also in the running for the win at the end before he got shoved out into the gravel.

Lastly, one of the biggest pieces of data is practice (airing Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS2). Though these drivers won’t be on track as much, it’s still important to see which ones improve throughout their runs and which ones are hot off the truck. And if a driver crashes, he might become one of the most popular drivers on DraftKings (since there wouldn’t be enough time for the team to fix the car between practice and qualifying).

Before I share some drivers I’m considering, here are the results from last week’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway:

SalaryDriverDraftKings Score

$10,000

Ross Chastain

45.2

$9,600

Ryan Blaney

61.1

$8,900

Joey Logano

65.5

$7,700

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

6.7

$7,000

Aric Almirola

43.8

$6,700

Bubba Wallace

8

$49,900

TOTAL

230.3

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s troubles left him mired in the rear, which really set this lineup back. Bubba Wallace also struggled to stay in the front, and his fantasy score suffered because of it. On the plus side, this lineup had the winner, Joey Logano. Keep trusting your process and good things will come!

While this lineup did poorly, one of my other ones in the $6,000 Quarter Jukebox tournament was tied for 17th and won $20. It had Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Logano, Erik Jones, Austin Cindric and Allmendinger. The top score was 370.7 and had most of these drivers except Jones and Cindric; instead, it had Kurt Busch and Justin Haley.

As far as DraftKings scoring, the rules are the same as last season: 0.45 points for each fastest lap and 0.25 for each lap led. Additionally, drivers can earn a point for each position they gain on the track (relative to where they start). They can also lose a point for each position lost, so keep this fact in mind if you decide to play the polesitter.

The DraftKings setup is bigger and better for 2022. Here are their rules for the road this season.

Now, on to my picks!

Note: The following drivers are part of a sample NASCAR DraftKings lineup; you can use this info to make your own.

DraftKings Plays/Sample Lineup for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Kyle Busch ($10,100)
Career at Sonoma:
16 starts, 2 wins, 6 top fives, 8 top 10s
Average finish at Sonoma: 14.6

Most people will automatically start with Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott, which are both good options (having won seven of the past 10 road course races in Cup). But I’m choosing Kyle Busch because of his track history at Sonoma during the past seven years. Since 2015, when Busch earned his second win here, he has yet to finish worse than seventh. Also, in the last four races, he’s placed fifth three times and second once (in 2019).

Unfortunately, Busch's first road course event in the Next Gen car didn’t end well, as he finished 28th at COTA. But last year, he was fourth at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Watkins Glen while placing third at Road America.

Keep in mind Busch has finished in the top three in each of the last three points races. If you think the Candy Man can carry this momentum to California, then place him in your DraftKings lineup.

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Martin Truex Jr. ($10,000)
Career at Sonoma:
15 starts, 3 wins, 5 top fives, 6 top 10s
Average finish at Sonoma: 17.1

Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. might be popular since he’s won twice at Sonoma in the last three races (and placed third last season). He also led several laps in each race between 2017 and 2019, though his engine expired in ‘17 after he led 25 laps. And in 2016, Truex finished fifth with a Furniture Row Racing team that was building toward title contention.

Recently at other road courses, the No. 19 has six top 10s in the last 10 events, including a seventh-place finish at COTA at the end of March. In 2021, Truex was ninth at Road America and third at WGI, leading 34 laps in the latter event.

If Truex can get back to his winning ways in Wine Country or even get a top five, he’ll score well on DraftKings.

Austin Cindric ($8,400)
Career at road courses in Cup:
4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at road courses: 20.0

A rookie in a new car at a place he’s never been at. That will go well, right?

Let me try to convince you. I mean, yes, it’s Cindric’s first trek to Sonoma, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t run on road courses in the Cup Series already. He’s had four total starts on this track type and earned two top 10s, one of which came earlier this season in Austin, Texas. He finished eighth at that COTA event after getting out front for 11 laps and earning three stage points. His other top 10 was ninth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

And who could forget Cindric's road course prowess in the NASCAR Xfinity Series? Cindric snagged five wins in NXS: one each at WGI and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (2019) as well as the Daytona International Speedway road course, Road America in 2020 and the Indy Road Course last season. He finished, on average, in about sixth place (6.3) across all 20 of his NXS road course events.

If Cindric adjusts to Sonoma’s layout right away, he could be a contender for the victory at the end. But even if he doesn’t, as long as he posts a few fastest laps and finishes well, Cindric will benefit your DraftKings contests.

Alex Bowman ($7,900)
Career at Sonoma:
5 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Sonoma: 18.4

I feel like Bowman is flying under the radar in daily fantasy this season, at least since March. He’s only had two races where he scored less than 34 fantasy points on DraftKings in the last three months. It just doesn’t make much sense to me that his salary is under $8,000 when he finished second at COTA and scored over 34 fantasy points in four of the past five points-paying events.

Yes, he’s only earned two top 10s at the California road course, but they were both ninths in 2021 and 2018 with Hendrick Motorsports. His first two outings at Sonoma were for underfunded BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, so you shouldn’t really consider those results in your research.

Bowman should post a solid DraftKings score on Sunday.

Dark Horse Performers

Erik Jones ($7,500)
Career at Sonoma:
4 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Sonoma: 12.8

One of the good things about Jones is that he generally tries to get the most out of his equipment, and the same can be said at Sonoma. While he hasn’t started better than 18th there, that’s actually good for DraftKings purposes, as he placed 11th in 2021 and earned top 10s in 2018-2019.

Earlier this year at COTA, the No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports wheelman drove from the back to ninth place — 21 spots further from where he began. Also, in ‘21 Jones was seventh at the Indy Road Course, 16th at COTA, and 14th at the Daytona road course. Those last two don’t sound fancy, but since he started 29th and 37th in each race, respectively, his DraftKings scores were higher.

Hopefully, Jones doesn’t get caught up in mayhem during the race on Sunday. Expect him to charge through the field otherwise for a solid performance on your roster.

Todd Gilliland ($5,100)
Career at road courses (Trucks):
7 starts, 1 win, 3 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at road courses: 11.7

The above stats come from Gilliland’s time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as he’s only run one road course event in Cup (16th at COTA). He mostly finished in the teens at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but last season he took home the win in Austin, Texas. Additionally, he earned a fourth place at the Daytona road course and Watkins Glen, leading 18 laps in the latter event.

Now, I know Gilliland's No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Cup Series team has improved overall this year, but he’s still a rookie and is unlikely to contend for the victory. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a good value play on DraftKings, though. After all, Gilliland was 16th in the Coca-Cola 600 and 15th at Darlington Raceway, scoring about 41 points in each event on DraftKings. That would be a big help to cash in on your contests.

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