NASCAR Fantasy Picks for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 11, 2023 in Sonoma, California. NASCAR Fantasy

Another week of NASCAR Fantasy, this time the Cup Series is racing in wine country at Sonoma Raceway. Who should you pick for your NASCAR Fantasy lineup.

This comes as the second of four road course races this season (not including July’s Chicago Street Course race). and NASCAR’s lone points-paying trip to California. In February, a repave was conducted adding fresh asphalt that will lead to increased lap times from years prior. The track’s “Chute” layout will be in use, utilizing the shorter, 1.99-mile circuit with twelve turns. Excluding 2020, Sonoma Raceway has been part of the Cup Series schedule since 1989.

The 2024 Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place Sunday, June 9th with the green flag shortly after 3:30 pm ET (12:30 pm PT). Cable viewers can tune in on FOX with radio coverage available on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM’s NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR Fantasy Live gives fans the chance to partake in driver selection each Cup Series race weekend. One will pick five starters and one “garage” driver per event. The garage driver will not receive any points but can replace a starter who may face trouble in the first part of the race. At the end of stage two, picks will lock, and no changes can be made. Points are awarded based on stage points and finishing positions in addition to four “head-to-head” driver picks. A driver may only be picked ten (10) times across the 26-race Regular Season and five (5) times in the 10-race Playoffs. See NASCAR’s website here for rules of how to play.

My suggestions below are NOT my personal Sunday lineup. See my results from last weekend’s Enjoy Illinois 300 from World Wide Technology Raceway (Gateway). Further below are my picks for this Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

NASCAR FANTASY RECAP: Enjoy Illinois 300

STARTERS

  • Austin Cindric – 8 uses left
    • 40 Place Points (1st) + 16 Stage Points (S1 – 4th, S2 – 2nd) = 56 Total Points
  • Christopher Bell – 5 uses left
    • 30 Place Points (7th) + 20 Stage Points (S1 – 1st, S2 – 2nd) = 50 Total Points
  • Joey Logano – 6 uses left
    • 32 Place Points (5th) + 7 Stage Points (S1 – 9th, S2 – 6th) = 39 Total Points
  • Ryan Blaney – 4 uses left
    • 13 Place Points (24th) + 16 Stage Points (S1 – 2nd, S2 – 3rd) = 29 Total Points
  • Michael McDowell – 7 uses left
    • 12 Place Points (25th) + 9 Stage Points (S1 – 2nd, S2 – N/A) = 21 Total Points
  • Kyle Busch – KEPT IN GARAGE, 8 uses left
    • 2 Place Points (35th) + 0 Stage Points (S1 – N/A, S2 – N/A) = 2 Place Points

FEATURED MATCHUPS

  • Christopher Bell vs. Ryan Blaney
    • PICK: Blaney
    • RESULT: Incorrect (Bell = 7th, Blaney = 24th)
  • Kyle Busch vs. Joey Logano
    • PICK: Logano
    • RESULT: Correct (Busch = 35th, Logano = 5th)
  • Martin Truex Jr. vs. Denny Hamlin
    • PICK: Hamlin
    • RESULT: Correct (Truex Jr. = 34th, Hamlin = 2nd)
  • Alex Bowman vs. Ty Gibbs
    • PICK: Gibbs
    • RESULT: Correct (Bowman = 28th, Gibbs = 11th)

RANKING (after 15 of 36 races)

  • Weekly Points = 225 PTS.
  • Total Season Points = 3,021 PTS. (201.4 average PTS. per race)
  • Collective Rankings = 2,178 PTS. (+969 positions from Charlotte Motor Speedway)

SONOMA STARTERS

PICK #1 – Chris Buescher

Following a quiet weekend at Gateway, Chris Buescher plots for his first win of 2024.

The No. 17 has only one Top 10 in the last eight Cup Series races, but his pace and contention have been apparent. Buescher had not seen strong results at Sonoma until the last two years, finishing 2nd in 2022 and 4th in 2023. Both performances were backed with the combined highest Average Running Position (A.R.P.) at 5.35, and he sits as the lone driver with Top 5s in both those races. Additionally, he has finished at least one stage in the Top 10 in all but one year (2021) since 2018.

With a worst finish of 11th in the last twelve road course events, Buescher is going to be in the final picture. He will have his work cut out for him as he starts Sunday from 26th place.

PICK #2 – Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. gears up for what could be his last trip to California hills.

He enters the weekend as the track’s defending winner, taking the 2023 victory in dominant fashion with 51 laps led. Crossing first moved him to second on the all-time Sonoma win list with four victories (2013, 2018, 2019); one shy of category-leader Jeff Gordon. Five Top 5s including three of his four wins have come in his last seven years. In 17 career starts, Truex Jr. has led 15 or more laps in six trips. He targets his first win since New Hampshire Motor Speedway last year.

Track position is critical, and Truex Jr. will fight his way forward from 21st.

PICK #3 – Michael McDowell

Will Michael McDowell punch his ticket into the Playoffs?

We have seen the potential for such throughout the season including four Top 10s and his first three career poles. Unfortunately, nine finishes worse than 20th with four DNFs see the Ford driver 24th in the standings. Sonoma can turn the tides for McDowell, who is one of only three drivers with at least three Next Gen Stage finishes inside the Top 10. Surprisingly, he had never finished Top 10 in Wine Country until 2022’s 3rd and 2023’s 7th.

 

PICK #4 – Chase Elliott

The incredible consistency of Chase Elliott continues.

In the last 26 Cup Series races, the Hendrick Motorsports driver has a single finish outside the Top 20. Road courses are arguably the best to his resume with four out of six Top 10s in 2022 and four out of five (missed 2022 Circuit of the Americas race) in 2023. Elliott has never won at Sonoma, but he is five for seven with finishes of 8th or better. This ranks 2nd among active drivers in the Top 10 percentage rate (71.4%) and 1st with the best average finish (12.1).

Things look promising as Elliott will take the green flag from 4th position.

PICK #5 – Joey Logano

Joey Logano takes my last NASCAR Fantasy starter.

His season has not lived up to past expectations, but road courses pose an opportunity for the two-time Champion. In the four Next Gen Sonoma stages, Logano has three finishes of 2nd or better including a critical Playoff point in the second stage of 2022. An A.R.P. ranks 8th of active drivers who raced the last two events, and over the last seven road course stops, he has five finishes of 11th or better. When compared to the field, his 12.9 career average finish ranks him 2nd.

Guess what? Logano will lead the field to green for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

ALTERNATE OPTIONS

Kyle Larson

  • 2021 Sonoma winner
  • Four track poles since 2017 (important race for track position)
  • Only two finishes outside of the Top 15 (2014, 2017)

Ross Chastain

  • Joins Elliott as only two drivers with three straight Top 10s on circuit
  • 4th-best active A.R.P. in Next Gen (10.40)
  • Four Top 10s in last seven road course races

Kyle Busch

  • One of four active winners; one of two with multiple Sonoma wins (2008, 2015)
  • 30th in 2022 only track finish outside Top 10 since 2015 victory
  • Stage 2 track winner last year (added ten points for NASCAR Fantasy goers)

HIDDEN GEM?

Daniel Suarez

  • First career Cup Series win at Sonoma in 2022; 47 laps led in race
  • Targeting third Top 10 of the season

*BONUS – Will Brown

  • Making debut in No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
  • 2016 Australian Formula 4 and Toyota 86 Champion; 2019 TCR Australia Champion
  • Current Supercars Championship points leader for Red Bull Ampol Racing

*BONUS – Cam Waters

  • Making debut in No. 60 RFK Racing Ford
  • Three consecutive podiums in Bathurst 1000 (2020 – 2022)
  • Multi-time Australian Regional Championship winner
  • 2020 and 2023 runner-up in Supercars Championship standings

AVOID!

Denny Hamlin

  • 16th driver-ranked career average finish (19.0; worst career, excluding Bristol Dirt)
  • Pole and 33 laps led in 2023; however, crashed out for second-straight finish outside 30th
  • No Top 10 stage finish in Next Gen

Brad Keselowski

  • Only three Top 10s in 13 Sonoma starts
  • One road course Top 10 in 13 Next Gen races (10th at Sonoma in 2022)
  • 32nd-ranked Friday practice time out of 38 entries;

Bubba Wallace

  • Two Top 10s in 28 road course or street course starts
  • Two Sonoma finishes inside Top 25 through five races

NASCAR FANTASY MATCHUPS

Ty Gibbs vs. Kyle Busch

The rising star and the seasoned veteran clash in our first NASCAR Fantasy matchup. Ty Gibbs finished 4th and 18th in his single Xfinity Series and Cup Series starts, respectively. Kyle Busch brings a trophy from the 2022 Xfinity race as well as his two prior track victories. Surprisingly, Busch has not been to victory lane on a road course in Cup since 2015.

Either pick may get the job done. The ceiling is higher for Gibbs, but I think Busch will turn things around.

Austin Cindric vs. Ross Chastain

Austin Cindric did not make my list above, but he is surely motivated after last weekend’s victory at Gateway. A 5th place in 2022 was followed by an underwhelming 25th last year. Although road courses are in his wheelhouse, he has only seen two Top 10s in the last seven races. As mentioned in the “Alternate Options,” Ross Chastain’s consistency at Sonoma has been impressive with three Top 10s in a row.

Give me Chastain to secure the day’s better finish.

Chase Elliott vs. Tyler Reddick

Not much has slowed Chase Elliott around the Californian twists and turns. He leads Tyler Reddick with the better finish and A.R.P. in each of the last three Sonoma races. Reddick, however, does have more road course Top 10s in the Next Gen with ten (raced Chicago Street Course) to Elliott’s eight. While Reddick has three Next Gen road course victories to Elliott’s nil, Sonoma has been one of his worst-performing thus far.

Without incident, Elliott will execute the decisive day.

Daniel Suarez vs. Michael McDowell

The last up sees a pair of former track foes. Last-lap contact in the 2021 race saw Daniel Suarez retaliate against Michael McDowell in the hard-breaking eleventh corner. The two share a pair of road course wins with Suarez’s 2022 Sonoma pinata-smash and McDowell’s Indianapolis Road Course trophy last season. When looking at road course stats in the Next Gen, McDowell leads Suarez 8-to-5 in finishes.

As of late, better results and performances have come from McDowell, so I will stick in his corner.

What does your NASCAR Fantasy lineup for the 2024 Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway? Tweet us @LWOSMotorsport. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.

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