Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IJune 19, 2012

Fantasy NASCAR Picks for the Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

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    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

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    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:

    Tony Stewart

    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

    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

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    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

    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.

    Clint Bowyer

    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.

    A.J. Allmendinger

    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

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    Robby Gordon

    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.

    Casey Mears

    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

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    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

    104.1driver rating

    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

    84.0driver rating

    8. Greg Biffle 15.00 average

    69.0driver rating

    9. Jamie McMurray 15.00 average

    79.1driver rating

    10.  David Gilliland 15.50 average

    73.3 driver rating

    11.  Juan Pablo Montoya 16.00 average

    93.0driver rating

    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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    Chad’s Fantasy NASCAR Picks