NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota/Save Mart 350
After a week off, NASCAR's best head west again for the first road course of the season. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway packs a lot of entertainment on this winding, hilly 2.52-mile track with left and right turns. While the racing has changed drastically this season at a lot of race tracks due to aerodynamics, Sonoma will have a new look because of NASCAR reverting to racing on the true 12-turn configuration of the track, adding the "carousel" that IndyCar races on to add the additional fifth and sixth turns in hopes to generate more passing opportunities at the track.
Daily fantasy strategy should flip upside-down at a road course race. With only 90 laps, which is 20 fewer than last year's event, domination points are few and far between. As a result, you want to hunt finishing position and pass differential above all. To put that theory into action, no driver has led more laps since 2012 than Martin Truex Jr. did last year (62 in a 110-lap race), and under FanDuel's scoring, Truex would have scored more points winning from a start of 14th place than dominating from the outside front row like he did. And that was an extreme outlier of dominance as the next most laps led was 45 by Jimmie Johnson in 2015.
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Our track preview gives you more information about Richmond, our driver preview helps bring you up to speed on recent driver history, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this weekend's slate. Also, don't forget to place some sharp money by checking out this week's NASCAR betting guide.
Kevin Harvick ($14,500): This week's betting favorite is Kevin Harvick at +350, and the great news for DFS is he had a tumultuous Saturday in qualifying. Harvick will start 23rd and boasts a recent record at this track as good as anyone's. He led 24 laps and won in 2017, and Harvick led 35 laps and finished second a year ago. Harvick is still searching for his first win of 2019, and if his odds are any indication, he will be a factor for it this week. From this deep in the field, Harvick is a near lock for DFS lineups Sunday.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500): Far from a lock is Brad Keselowski, who has struggled to find speed historically at road courses. It wasn't much of a surprise "Bad Brad" posted 22nd in qualifying at one of his worst race tracks statistically, but I still think there is value to be had with The Deuce. Keselowski started 23rd and finished third at this track two years ago, and he finished top five in both stages last year before tumbling late on strategy. In a race of unknowns, Keselowski's crew chief Paul Wolfe is a good guy to have in your corner. Keselowski and Harvick make a solid duo at the front of a cash lineup.
Clint Bowyer ($12,000): Bowyer starts closer to the front of the field than Harvick or Keselowski do, beginning in 14th, but you could make the argument he is as strong of a play as either. Bowyer has finished top three in each of the last three Sonoma races he finished (crashing in 2016), and he won the race back in 2012. Bowyer also has a quick car this weekend, posting top-10 numbers in both practice sessions. He is rightfully expensive but should move toward the front quickly, and his ownership will likely be lower -- maybe significantly lower -- than that of the previous two drivers.
Kurt Busch ($11,000): As one of the most well-rounded drivers on the circuit, Busch has no weakness going left and right. He has four straight top-10 showings at Sonoma, even leading 44 total laps in those races. He starts a modest 16th and is in line for a solid Sunday, it appears, as he posted second-fastest in final practice. If you're building a more balanced lineup, Busch is a perfect fit.
Kyle Larson ($10,700): The car of the weekend appears to be Kyle Larson and the number-42 machine. He won final practice and captured his third straight Sonoma pole in Saturday's time trial sessions. The problem for Larson at this track has always been maintaining that blazing speed over the course of a longer run and not using up his tires. Given how the scoring structure breaks down, pole position is not necessarily optimal for Larson, who will have to lead a good chunk of this race to be a valuable play should he not win the race. However, it appears he has the best car capable of taking the checkered flag.
Erik Jones ($9,700): Erik Jones certainly has better tracks than Sonoma, but he's got a pretty economical price tag. Because of his poor history on road courses, Jones saw a price reduction this week, and a tire issue in qualifying will leave him starting 32nd. Now, will Jones contend to win the race on Sunday? Probably not. However, he finished seventh here last year and may be the highest-scoring driver in the field if he can climb into the top 10 from his starting position.
Daniel Hemric ($8,200): Opposite of Jones, Hemric saw a steep upgrade in price for this weekend's race, and a lot of that probably had to do with him proving to be a good road course racer in the Xfinity Series last year. He finished third at Road America, third at Mid Ohio, ninth at Watkins Glen, and 10th at the Charlotte Roval -- even leading four laps from the pole in that event. However, he's yet to get the hang of Sonoma in his first visit to the track as he was outside the top 25 in both practices and qualified 25th. I trust Hemric's road course ability, and he's a nice value target this weekend.
Paul Menard ($7,600): Paul Menard is quietly a really solid road course racer. He had five straight top-16 finishes in Wine Country before having a mechanical issue in last year's event. He was top 20 in both practices Saturday, but he missed a mark in qualifying and starts 24th. If Menard can restart a new top-16 streak at Sonoma, he will be a tremendous value play from that spot. I trust Menard significantly more than I trust Matt DiBenedetto ($7,000) or Michael McDowell ($6,500), who are starting much closer to the front with worse equipment. The road course talent of that pair will attract some ownership, but keep this in mind -- because of mechanical issues, DiBenedetto and McDowell between them only have two top-20 finishes at this race track over the last four years, and Menard has three such finishes himself.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. 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.