Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes a break from making all left turns to take the show to the two-mile road course in Sonoma, Calif.
Last week was a big week in NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first race in four years.
Junior Nation is still celebrating, but they should not get too excited about this week’s race. Earnhardt has not been very good at the road courses in his career. There are plenty of other drivers to choose from.
Fantasy NASCAR players in the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game will not get a chance to see any practice sessions before their teams will be due early Friday morning. Out of all of the races on the NASCAR schedule, the races on the road courses are the easiest to predict. Drivers are either very good or very bad at these racetracks.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing game.
Yahoo Group A Drivers
Some NASCAR fans do not like the road course races. I love them.
It shows off the driver's true skills. I wish NASCAR would put one road course race in the Chase, but it probably will not happen anytime soon.
There are many good options in Group A this week. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have proved to be good road course racers.
I believe there are better options, though.
Here are my selections for the Yahoo Group A:
Just like he always does, Tony Stewart is starting to heat up for the summer. Last week, Stewart finished in the top five for the second consecutive race. He is one of the best choices for your team this week.
In his 13 career starts at Sonoma, Stewart has two wins, four top five finishes, eight top 10 finishes, won one pole position and led 82 laps.
Stewart has a series-high 73 fastest laps run, a series-high 603 laps run in the top 15 and a series-high 220 quality passes.
Stewart will be the driver in victory lane on Sunday.
Jeff Gordon is also an excellent pick for Sunday’s race. Gordon has slowly started to turn his terrible season around. The California native should feel right at home in Sonoma.
In his 19 career starts at Sonoma, Gordon has five wins, 12 top five finishes, 15 top 10 finishes, won five pole positions and led 437 laps.
Gordon’s 3.5 average finishing position in the last two races at Sonoma is the best of any driver. Gordon should finish in the top five on Sunday.
Other good picks: Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski
Yahoo Group B Drivers
This would be a good week to save your top drivers in Group B.
Although Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have dominated the first half of the 2012 season, there is no way I would start either driver this week.
There are four drivers in Group B who are much better than the rest of the drivers in the field. I highly suggest using one of these drivers this week:
Marcos Ambrose is not only the best choice in Group B, he is the best driver on the racetrack this week.
In his four career races at Sonoma, Ambrose has two top five finishes, three top 10 finishes and has led 35 laps.
Ambrose should have had a victory at Sonoma, but in 2010 Ambrose decided to shut off his car to save fuel. Ambrose was dominating the race, but was unable to get his car re-fired in time to keep his place on the racetrack.
Ambrose will finish in the top three this Sunday.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Most fantasy NASCAR teams probably have not used Juan Pablo Montoya much this season. This is the week to get the Columbian into your lineups.
In his five career starts at Sonoma, Montoya has one win, one top five finish and four top 10 finishes. Montoya’s 89.540 mph average speed is fourth-best and his 179 quality passes is fourth-most.
Montoya should be on every fantasy NASCAR team this week.
The secret this week that many fantasy NASCAR players do not know is that Clint Bowyer is a very good road course racer.
In his six career starts at Sonoma, Bowyer has three top five finishes, four top 10 finishes and has an average starting position of 11.2.
Bowyer has a series-high 455 green flag passes and an average running position of 16. 7.
Bowyer will be up front in the race on Sunday.
Before A.J. Allmendinger came to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, he spent most of his time racing Champ Cars and other road course-style cars.
This year, Allmendinger won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race. He has proved to be very good on the road courses.
If Allmendinger’s past is not enough to take a chance with him on your team this week, the fact that he will be driving the car that dominated the race last year should be.
Last season Kurt Busch dominated the race in Sonoma in the No. 22 Penske Dodge. This week Allmendinger with take his shot ot driving the No. 22 to victory lane.
Other good picks: Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman
My Selections for Yahoo Group C
Usually, picking ringers is not a good idea on the road courses.
Many fantasy players believe that picking the so called “Road Course Experts” is the way to go. None of these drivers have won at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.
Robby Gordon is the exception to the “Road Course Ringer” rule. Gordon is not a full-time driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012. He has been very good in Sonoma in the past.
Gordon has one win, three top five finishes and 10 top 10 finishes at Sonoma.
Gordon’s 431 green flag passes are the third most and his 50 fastest laps in the race are the second most. His average race speed is 89.311 mph.
Gordon is the best choice in Group C this week.
This week I am going to take a chance with Casey Mears as my second Group C driver. I was trying to choose between Boris Said and Mears.
As much as I love the “Said Heads,” I have been burned too many times by taking Said at Sonoma.
Mears does not have the best stats at Sonoma, but they are just as good as any other driver in Group C. In eight career starts at Sonoma, Mears has one top five finish and two top 10 finishes.
I plan on using Robby Gordon, but maybe Mears will surprise people in practice.
Another good pick: Boris Said
Infineon Raceway Facts
Last Sprint Cup race: June 26, 2011, won by Kurt Busch.
Won from the pole: Five times, last by Jeff Gordon in 2004.
Won from top five starting position: 14 times or 61 percent.
Won from top 10 starting position: 17 times or 74 percent.
Won from 21st or worse starting position: two times or nine percent.
Wins by active manufactures in last 10 years: Chevy (5), Ford (1), Toyota (1), Dodge (3).
Best average finish and driver rating by active driver in last two races at Dover:
1. Jeff Gordon 3.50 average
2. Jimmie Johnson 4.00 average
128.3 driver rating
3. Marcos Ambrose 5.50 average
118.1 driver rating
4. Kevin Harvick 6.00 average
98.9 driver rating
5. Robby Gordon 10.00 average
77.5 driver rating
6. Kasey Kahne 12.00 average
95.0 driver rating
7. A.J. Allmendinger 13.00 average
8. Greg Biffle 15.00 average
9. Jamie McMurray 15.00 average
10. David Gilliland 15.50 average
73.3 driver rating
11. Juan Pablo Montoya 16.00 average
12. Carl Edwards 16.00 average
83.5 driver rating
13. Mark Martin 16.50 average
68.0 driver rating
14. Clint Bowyer 17.50 average
92.5 driver rating
15. Boris Said 18.00 average
77.8 driver rating
16. Paul Menard 19.50 average
62.2 driver rating
17. Joey Logano 20.50 average
69.3 driver rating
18. Ryan Newman 16.75 average
80.2 driver rating
19. David Reutimann 22.0 average
59.0 driver rating
20. Tony Stewart 22.5 average
104.5 driver rating
*Driver ratings include: Finish, average running position, average speed and number of fastest laps
**Stats courtesy of NASCAR Media Department.
My Fantasy Live team this week is: Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, J.P. Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger>
Good luck this week!
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter: @HuskerMagic.
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