NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Toyota/Save Mart 350
If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers who crash out of the race is a must, though!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, June 11th
4:30 p.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, June 11th
5:30 p.m. EST
The joint session format will take place on Saturday, and it'll be a great test for this new car.
COTA was a race filled with accidents and trouble, so we didn't really get a great measuring stick on who had the strongest road course program. Starting this weekend, 4 of the next 10 races will take place on road courses, so it'll be a pivotal part of the playoff push.
Results at this track have been "sticky" regardless of car or aerodynamic package. Martin Truex Jr. would have five straight top-fives if not for a blown engine while leading. Kyle Busch has finished seventh or better here in six straight. The contenders are from the same handful of drivers and teams each year.
With that said, who stands out amongst them in practice will be paramount. Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain dominated the race at COTA after posting second and sixth in practice's single-lap speeds. The fast cars and best drivers will be fast right away.
General Lineup Strategy
The strategy for road courses is tried and true at this point -- pick an assumed winner and surround them with the best combination of place-differential and finishing points that you can.
There are just 110 laps (therefore 11 FanDuel points) for laps led, and teams will voluntarily shuffle out of the lead for strategy purposes on road courses. Kyle Larson was as dominant as you can be last year and led just 57 laps.
Cars ascend up the starting order here. In the last two trips to Sonoma, 20 cars finished inside the top-10 spots (obviously). Of those 20, 8 cars started in 15th or worse.
Jim Sannes has just 16 drivers with above a 2.5% chance to win the race, per his simulation, and my rankings agree -- it's a week to have a tight core. Really, the top-19 drivers (back to Erik Jones) are the ones I'm actually considering with top-10 finishing upside in a normal race. Anything below that would be a punt towards chaos or place-differential points from a starting spot at the rear.
Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level -- in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations were included.
As a great indicator of overall speed, MLT Rank is the driver's average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend's. The prior races in the sample this week are:
2022 Circuit of the Americas (Spring)
For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance to lead the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to finish in terms of potential to finish inside the top-15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.
Though Chase Elliott ($14,000) put together the better event at COTA, I'm still rolling with Kyle Larson ($13,500) as the top overall option.
Larson's crew chief made a strategic mistake that put him behind last year by winning Stage 2. He still drove back up through the field and won the event, leading 57 laps. That was in an entirely different car, but Larson has been fast in Sonoma for years. He won four straight poles before putting it together in the race for the first time last season.
Elliott has just one podium finish in five Sonoma starts, and it hasn't been his strongest of the road courses the series visits.
Maybe I'm starting in the wrong spot altogether, though, considering Ross Chastain ($12,000) dominated the only road course event in this car so far. He led 31 laps and won back in March. Chastain's current form on ovals has also been excellent, and it bodes well for him that he finished 7th here in lesser equipment a season ago. Don't ignore him.
For me, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,000) and Kyle Busch ($12,500) are a tier below those three. They've been great at Sonoma historically, but both last year's event in a different car and the race at COTA weren't great for them. They posted just the 21st and 14th-best median lap times, respectively, in Austin a few months ago.
The mid-range being so deep also reduces Truex and Busch's appeal. A.J. Allmendinger ($11,500) won at Indianapolis last year and has contended for wins in previous Cup Series starts here. Last week's winner Joey Logano ($9,500) finished fourth here last June. Ryan Blaney ($9,000) had the fastest median lap time at COTA, too.
Of that mid-range, though, Austin Cindric ($11,000) is making his first start at Sonoma in any NASCAR series. He's an excellent road racer, but we'll have to see some speed and comfort in practice to go there with a lofty mark.
Daniel Suarez ($7,500) was fast in COTA before mechanical issues, so I'd be willing to buy into quick practice times despite his lackluster success here in other cars. But, until we see that, Erik Jones ($6,500) and Chris Buescher ($6,000) are my favorite value plays.
Jones has three straight finishes of 11th or better here, and last year came in this same tier of equipment with Petty GMS Racing. Buescher has finished 16th or better in his last three tries, as well.
If I'm punting this weekend, the most intriguing option is Justin Haley ($5,000). He's A.J. Allmendinger's teammate and posted a top-10 finish in every single Xfinity Series road course event last year.