NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota/Save Mart 350
After a week off for the Monster Energy Cup Series, we are back in action at Sonoma, one of the three road courses on the Monster Cup circuit this season. With only 110 laps, there are very little points to go around for laps led, which means our focus this week will be finishing position and place differential.
We have everything you need here at numberFire to get you ready for the race. Our track preview and driver preview set the stage for this weekend, and our Heat Check Podcast has you covered for lineup building strategies
So without further ado, let's take a look at which drivers we should be fitting in for this week's Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Clint Bowyer ($11,700): Bowyer took to Twitter to show his displeasure after his qualifying run had concluded with him starting 19th. After watching qualifying, it's easy to see why he was upset. NASCAR forced all the drivers to make qualifying runs at the same time, which is not ideal when trying to optimize lap time. The last thing any of these cars need is to make repairs to a damaged car right after qualifying, so Bowyer stayed conservative and qualified appropriately. Since 2012, an average finishing position of 10.2 at Sonoma is enough to put Bowyer on our radars to begin with. Throw in his third place long run time in second practice, a top-three lap average in first practice, as well as his place differential upside,and you have yourself one of the top plays of the entire slate.
Kurt Busch ($10,600): Don't look now, but the other Busch -- Kurt not Kyle -- might just be the better play. Qualifying in the 23rd position, Busch is ripe to gain place differential as he is more than capable of passing guys such as Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez, who lack both lengthy experience here or even good practice metrics for the week. What's going to jump off the page for most people is that Busch had the second best overall single lap speed in second practice, as clocked in at 91.45 miles per hour (mph). The recent track history is there as well, with an average finish of 6.33 since 2012. Busch and Bowyer should be at the core your cash lineups going into this one.
AJ Allmendinger ($9,100): If you haven't listened to the numberFire NASCAR podcast, you should. One of the key points on the podcast is that drivers that who start in the top-five are, more times than not, sub-optimal for DFS purposes. However, there are exception, and Allmendinger is the one to target this week. For someone who's considered to be a road-course god, he only seems to do well at half the road courses, this not being that one course. Diving deeper into the races themselves, Allmendinger always finds himself being a victim of others' poor driving. Between getting hit and pit penalties, Sonoma since 2012 has not really been the place for Allmendinger. But this is a new year, and we should see a better outcome from Allmendinger. Looking into practice data, Allmendinger ran the second-fastest average lap speed in practice behind only Martin Truex Jr., finishing better than notables like Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. The race looks bright for Allmendinger, and he seems like a great tournament play, as people should be scared away by his recent finishes (35th, 14th 37th and 37th) here.
Jimmie Johnson ($10,100): To be frank, Johnson has been bad this year, and that's especially the case for fantasy purposes. In my eyes, he has become a lot like Austin Dillon, who will start in the middle of the pack and likely finish there. However, all of Johnson's issues this season has been with the equipment, not the driver. These new 2018 Chevrolets have not been the easiest to drive in their first year. Road courses are much different from the intermediate courses that these drivers will be on most weeks, though. You need the experience to be able to do well here. And, boy, does Johnson have that, and the recent track history to prove that he's been solid here, too. His average finish position at Sonoma since 2012 is an impressive 8.8. While it's unlikely Johnson will lead a bunch of laps here, he doesn't need to. All he needs to do is hold position, and maybe even gain a few spots. Johnson can do it for you in a tournament where laps led will not be the end all be all for scoring.
Kasey Kahne ($7,700): Admittedly, Kahne is a personal favorite, so it's good to see him as a viable fantasy option for this week's race. Starting in 26th, Kahne easily has the skills and the speed to pass some of these lesser experienced road course drivers. It's no secret that the downgrade in the quality of equipment this year has had a negative impact on Kahne, but as previously noted, equipment is slightly less of an issue here. And it was shocking to see that Kahne posted the 12th best average practice speed in second practice, notably better than Kurt Busch and other road experienced drivers in better cars. It might by just be me, but you get the sense that Kahne will find his way into the FanDuel optimal lineup, which means having him in yours could prove profitable.
Chris Buescher ($6,600): Finishing right below Kahne in average practice speed, and starting right above Kahne in 25th, we have Mr. Buescher. While he doesn't have great track history here in two previously run races, there is evidence to suggest that Buescher knows something about running on road courses. He won at Mid-Ohio in the Xfinity series in 2014, and he's only gained more knowledge about these roads courses after becoming closer friends with the road course god himself, A.J Allmendinger. At this price, Buescher only needs to gain a few spots for his price to be worthwhile in a tournament, and that can certainly be done. If choosing between Buescher and Kahne, Kahne is still the preferred choice. But that might be the popular play, too, making Buescher a possible pivot off of Kahne, or even someone to play with Kahne to get all of the juiciness in the $11,000-plus price range.
Evan Cheney is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Evan Cheney also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Theman90210. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.