DraftKings NASCAR: Toyota/Save Mart 350
DraftKings NASCAR: Toyota/Save Mart 350

This article is part of our DraftKings NASCAR series.

Toyota/Save Mart 350

Location: Sonoma, Calif.
Course: Sonoma Raceway
Format: 1.99-mile road course
Laps: 110

Race Preview

Kyle Larson bagged his second victory of 2017 last week at Michigan International Speedway, overcoming both Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in the process. The win again keeps the Joe Gibbs Racing stable out of Victory Lane and will add to Busch's frustration. However, this week the series heads to the first of two road course stops on the schedule in Sonoma Raceway. Busch is the only active driver to have won more than a single race at the track in the last 10 events (2008 and 2015), and he's the only active driver to have won there in the last three years. The circuit means teams not only have to trek across the country, but they must unload completely different chassis as well. The demands of road course racing mean cars will be specially prepared for this weekend's event, and drivers will have to approach the weekend with a different focus on setup and performance. Since Larson already had a 2017 victory to his credit, seven winless drivers (including Joey Logano who has an encumbered victory) remain in the 16 playoff spots. The separation between making the cut and not is a mere eight points, which will come as particularly painful to Clint Bowyer who suffered a bad weekend in Michigan and is on the outside looking in.

Key Stats at Sonoma Raceway

Number of previous races: 28
Winners from pole: 5
Winners from top-5 starters: 15
Winners from top-10 starters: 20
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
Fastest race: 83.624 mph

Last 10 Sonoma Winners

2016 - Tony Stewart
2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Carl Edwards
2013 - Martin Truex Jr.
2012 - Clint Bowyer
2011 - Kurt Busch
2010 - Jimmie Johnson
2009 - Kasey Kahne
2008 - Kyle Busch
2007 - Juan Pablo Montoya

Sonoma Raceway is a flowing natural-terrain road course with 10 turns. Blind turns and significant elevation changes coupled with a narrow circuit make throwing the big Monster Energy Cup series cars around a delicate balance and an exciting show to watch. The racing is generally close throughout the field, and one mistake can drop a driver from the top five to the back of the pack in the blink of an eye. The optimal point to complete a pass is the braking zone for the turn-10 hairpin where drivers can get underneath their target. Passes happen throughout the track, however. Nudging the car ahead to unsettle it into the next turn is a common method of gaining position, and sometimes those moves are met with complete spins. Drivers must be prepared for contact on Sunday. Additionally, the long course opens the door to pit strategy. Making a stop for tires won't necessarily put a car a lap down and actually could be used to strategically get a car out of traffic only to return with freedom to run faster. Fuel mileage is often a factor, and saving as much as possible for the final laps could cycle an unlikely runner to the front at the opportune moment.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,300
Kyle Busch - $10,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Kurt Busch - $9,800
Jimmie Johnson - $9,600
A.J. Allmendinger - $9,500
Clint Bowyer - $9,400

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Denny Hamlin - $8,900
Jamie McMurray - $8,500
Kasey Kahne - $8,000
Ryan Newman - $7,900

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Daniel Suarez - $6,900
Danica Patrick - $5,800
Boris Said - $5,100

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,200
Jamie McMurray - $8,500
Chase Elliott - $8,300
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $8,100
Kasey Kahne - $8,000
Daniel Suarez - $6,900

The lower-risk lineup for Sonoma contains a number of winless drivers in 2017, but who have all shown significant potential either this season or at this track and have relatively good starting positions for Sunday. Kyle Busch is still hunting for his 2017 win, but he is one of the few active drivers to have won more than once on this track. He finished seventh last year and led two laps. Jamie McMurray doesn't have a Sonoma win on his resume but has qualified on pole three times here. He has shown promise in 2017 and should be quick again this week. Chase Elliott's Cup debut at Sonoma last season wasn't one to remember but he did win NASCAR's K&N Pro Series West race the day before. The Cup series is an entirely different prospect, but Elliott has chops for this track and is capable of bettering last year's result. Results at Sonoma have somewhat plateaued for Dale Earnhardt Jr. after earlier rapid improvement on the road course circuits. He also hasn't finished worse than 12th in the last four races there. A visit to Sonoma could give a big boost to Kasey Kahne's flagging season. He won here in 2009 and is currently on a run of four consecutive top-10 Sonoma finishes. Finally, Daniel Suarez is a rookie worth taking a risk on this week. He has steadily shown his capabilities in the Cup series this season, but he was quick most road course visits in the Xfinity series and results were hindered by trouble. He posted two top-fives from six Xfinity road course races and has plenty of experience from NASCAR's Mexico series on these types of circuits as well.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,300
A.J. Allmendinger - $9,500
Clint Bowyer - $9,400
Ryan Newman - $7,900
Austin Dillon - $7,100
Cole Whitt - $4,900

Martin Truex Jr. has shown significant pace throughout practice and qualifying for this weekend's race. His speed was enough to earn him the third starting position, and Sunday's race could come down to a battle between him and the next driver in the higher-risk lineup. A.J. Allmendinger may be the best-placed among this lineup to win. The road course specialist is looking to give his season a jump start, and with his fifth-place qualifying effort he may be on course to do so. While Clint Bowyer hasn't had the best luck recently, Sonoma could be a venue where he outperforms expectations. He is the 2012 winner of this race and missed out on adding a sixth consecutive top-10 finish at the track last season when he had to drop out of the race due to an electrical failure. Ryan Newman's price this week could be the best bargain on the board. He is on a good run of top-15 finishes heading into this week's race and has an average finish of 12.3 from 15 career starts at Sonoma. In three tries, Austin Dillon hasn't finished better than 17th, but a top-20 when coupled with his usual poor Sonoma qualifying (average start of 29th) makes him a fantasy value due to his finish differential. Similarly, Cole Whitt has finished on the lead lap in all three of his Sonoma visits, and not one of those results was lower than where he started.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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