Fantasy Preview: Toyota SaveMart 350

June 18, 2014 No Comments

SonomaBrian Wiggins, Senior Writer 

For the first time in 2014, the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will turn both left and right as the sixteenth stop on the tour takes to the Sonoma Raceway in California.

Over recent years, road course racing has changed drastically in the sport of NASCAR. No longer are the “road course ringer” the ones in the mix for wins, however it’s the guys that are turning left every week excelling at turning the other direction.

The road courses used to be “throwaway” races for drivers over the course of the season. That was when a driver could get away with having a few bad races, but those days are long gone. Now, teams and drivers put their best-effort forward at the two road courses.

NASCAR on road courses have typically meant long, strategy-filled events which weren’t always the most exciting events for fans to watch. Now, the two road courses have become some the most anticipated events on the calendar; Especially Sonoma, which has been dubbed as the Bristol of road courses.

*This roster is set based on the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing system*

“A” Drivers: 

  • Kurt Busch: The 2011 winner at Sonoma, Busch has been strong at Sonoma over the past few seasons. After winning with Roger Penkse in 2011, Busch has put together strong runs with two lesser-funded teams (Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing) in back-to-back seasons including a third place finish in 2012. The elder Busch brother comes into Sonoma with more confidence after the performance of his No.41 Stewart-Haas Racing team seems to have turned the corner.
  • Jeff Gordon: You can’t come to Sonoma and not have Jeff Gordon as a favorite. He’s the all-time wins leader at the track and has led more laps at Sonoma than any other driver. His last win may have been in 2006, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have a knack for road course racing. Seeing how well his season has gone thus far, it’s almost a given that Gordon will be in the mix Sunday afternoon.

“B” Drivers: 

  • Marcos Ambrose: Like Gordon, picking Ambrose up on your fantasy roster at a road course is almost a no-brainer. Almost because he hasn’t won at Sonoma before. Although, Ambrose was close in 2010, he hasn’t come that close to a win at the California road course sense. The thing with Ambrose is that he knows the road courses are his best shot to get in the Chase, so you know he’s going to put out his best effort with probably the best car in the Richard Petty Motorsports stable.
  • AJ Allmendinger: Much like Ambrose, Allmendinger’s best foot will be put forward this weekend. His JTG Daugherty team tested at Sonoma prior to this weekend, knowing that this is their chance to make the Chase. “The Dinger” is still winless in Sprint Cup, but his two Nationwide wins at the road courses last season make him a threat this weekend.
  • Jamie McMurray: The driver of the No.1 Chevrolet is probably one of the most underrated road course drivers in Sprint Cup. He’s a multi-time pole winner at Sonoma and has proven that he can contend for wins at the California road course. The Chip Ganassi team is improving seemingly by the week. McMurray can’t win everywhere, but this is one of the places he can.
  • Tony Stewart: Smoke hasn’t won at Sonoma since 2005, but don’t count him out. Stewart-Haas Racing seems to improving with all four cars, and there’s no better place for Stewart to pick up his first win of 2014 than Sonoma. He finished runner-up at Sonoma in 2012 to Clint Bowyer, so it’s obvious he still knows how to get the job done.

“C” Drivers: 

  • Kyle Larson: The rookie is very raw at the road courses, only making three Nationwide Series starts last year at road courses. That said though, he has shown this season that he can adapt very quickly to just about every situation. With Larson having a strong road course racing teammate in McMurray, anything is really possible. He’s either going to make you win, or hold you back.
  • Danica Patrick: It’s gone kind of unnoticed, but Danica Patrick has been improving as of late. She recorded a seventeenth-place finish this past weekend at Michigan which adds to her string of being more competitive in races. In her time in Nationwide, road courses were one of the places she thrived at. With three strong teammates at Sonoma, expect Patrick to be surprisingly quick this weekend.
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