DraftKings DFS NASCAR Picks: Sonoma
The Sprint Cup Series heads back out west for the Toyota SaveMart 350 from Sonoma Raceway in Northern California.
Last season it was Kyle Busch ($9,800) running his No. 18 Toyota to Victory Lane, touching off a summer run which culminated in a Sprint Cup Series championship in November. Despite the victory last June, though, Rowdy doesn’t check in the Top 10 in Driver Rating over the past six Sonoma races, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data. He has two victories in 11 career starts, but just three Top 10s with a 19.1 Average-Finish Position (AFP). He just isn’t worth the risk despite qualifying well and going off eighth in Sunday’s race.
Rowdy’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Carl Edwards ($9,100), captured the pole for Sunday’s race. He is eighth among active drivers with an 89.6 Driver Rating, and Cousin Carl has checked in to Victory Lane once at Sonoma while posting five Top 10s with a 16.5 AFP. Edwards’ teammate Denny Hamlin ($8,000) has had a terrible time over the years at Sonoma, stumbling to just one Top 5 and two Top 10s in 10 career starts while managing an awful 22.7 AFP. Hamlin might be a decent contrarian play, though, as he’ll go off sixth in Sunday’s race and it’s awfully hard for others to pass. He could be in line for a finish well better than his career AFP at the track.
JGR’s Matt Kenseth ($7,600) might be an attractive pick at this salary level, especially since he is 14th or better in five straight starts with four finishes seventh or higher. But Kenseth has never shown anything at Sonoma, struggling with a 22.1 AFP in 16 career starts. He has never had a Top 5, and just one Top 10 while failing to lead even just one lap in his career at the road course. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch ($10,700) is the highest-priced option on the board, but he is well worth the money. He has finished very well at Sonoma in the past six races, posting a 115.9 Driver Rating. The elder Busch has a win, seven Top 5s and nine Top 20s in 15 career starts with a 14.8 AFP. He has led 197 laps in his career at the track, more than any other active driver. Teammate Tony Stewart ($8,900) will also be a popular choice, as he has two wins, five Top 5s and nine Top 10s in 17 career starts with a 12.4 AFP. Busch will start fourth in Sunday’s face, while Smoke begins in the 10th position.
JTG Daugherty Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger ($9,600) will likely see his exposure at a season high, as he will start in the second spot after a strong practice and qualifying session. Allmendinger is also steady on the road courses, and this could be his golden ticket to the Chase. He has seven career starts at Sonoma, posting two Top 10s and four Top 20s. While those averages won’t bowl you over, the fact he starts on Row 1 makes him very attractive. He should lead plenty of laps in this one.
A Toyota has won three of the past four stops at Sonoma, and one of those victories was by Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. ($9,300), then of Michael Waltrip Racing. He struggled mightily last season, but still ranks fifth in Driver Rating over the past six starts at the track. MTJ has led 67 laps in 10 starts at the track, and half of those starts have resulted in Top 20 finishes or better. He’ll start out third in Sunday’s race.
Penske Racing’s Joey Logano ($9,500) had strong practice sessions, and he qualified to start in the seventh position Sunday. Logano has yet to win at Sonoma, but he has a Top 5, three Top 10s and a respectable 14.3 AFP, fifth among all active drivers. His teammate Brad Keselowski ($8,100) has struggled mightily at the road course in Sonoma, posting just one Top 10 and a terrible 19.8 AFP. He will start 12th in Sunday’s race, but he isn’t likely to move up from there.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,100) struggled in qualifying, and he will start 15th in Sunday’s race. He is an attractive DFS play, though, as he should rack up plenty of Place Differential points based on his past history at the run. He has a 12.4 AFP in 14 career starts, third-best among all active drivers. J.J. has a win with four Top 5s and nine Top 10s at Sonoma, leading 131 laps. If you want to pair Johnson with another Hendrick teammate, Kasey Kahne ($8,700) might be your best bet. He has a win, two Top 5s and five Top 10s in 12 career starts with an 18.2 AFP at Sonoma.
ON THE DOWN LOW
As far as the lower-priced options are concerned, there is plenty of good picks for a high-low DFS lineup strategy.
Danica Patrick ($6,100) surprised in qualifying, rolling to a starting position of 11th for Sunday’s race. She hasn’t done much in her previous three starts at the track, posting a 23.7 AFP, but she has been as high as 18th before, and that type of finish would be outstanding Sunday at this price level. Paul Menard ($6,900) was also strong in qualifying, rocketing to a starting position of ninth. He has never won in eight career starts, but he has a Top 5 and five Top 20s. As a No. 5 or 6 driver Menard is a solid play.
Jamie McMurray ($7,800) is a must-have No. 4 or 5 driver based on his career numbers. He’ll go off 21st in Sunday’s race, making him slightly less attractive considering how difficult it is to pass and make your way up the leaderboard. However, it isn’t impossible, as Juan Pablo Montoya won from the 32nd position in 2007. McMurray has two Top 5s and 11 Top 20s in 13 career starts with a 16.2 AFP.
Austin Dillon ($7,300) might also garner plenty of attention, as he has steered his No. 3 machine to consecutive 17th-place showings in his two career starts at Sonoma. As far as ringers, Patrick Carpentier ($6,000) makes his first Sprint Cup Series start of the season. He posted a career-best 11th place finish at Sonoma racing for MWR. He could be a tremendous No. 6 DFS option if he can re-capture that magic. He will start 34th. Fellow ringer Dylan Lupton ($5,700) will make the start from the 38th position for BK Racing, and he might be a nice No. 6 DFS option helping to save plenty of salary up top.
Lastly, HScott Motorsports driver Clint Bowyer ($7,700) has dominated at Sonoma in the past. He leads all active drivers with an 8.6 AFP in 10 career starts, winning once while posting six Top 5s and eight Top 10s while leading 82 laps. He will go off in the 18th spot.