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NASCAR DFS: Toyota Save Mart 350 Preview

The NASCAR Cup Series continues its path West this week. Sonoma Raceway plays host to this weekend’s action, marking the second road course of the 2024 season. Truthfully this is certainly one of the more scenic tracks on the NASCAR schedule. Unfortunately, NASCAR runs this race in the summer when the grass is burnt and not as green. But we aren’t here to take in the scenery. We want to crush our NASCAR DFS contests on Sunday. To get a read on the top road course specialists, you can double back and check the COTA preview from earlier in the year. You’ll see some familiar names below as part of this week’s Toyota Save Mart 350 preview.

Sonoma Raceway is a two-mile “12-turn road course” that does not match COTA in length. However, it does feature elevation changes similar to COTA but without as many technical turns. I put ’12-turn road course’ in quotes simply because the track has some additional twists and bends that aren’t “official” turns. But the strategy remains the same. When building NASCAR DFS lineups for road courses, we don’t completely disregard dominator points. But we don’t prioritize them as much as we would for tracks that offer 200+ laps. Sonoma only has 110. That means there are just 11 dominator points on FanDuel and about 70-75 on DraftKings. We want win equity and drivers offering place differential. If we collect the dominator points, then that’s just gravy. But those points are meaningless if the drivers who collect them don’t score well.

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Toyota Save Mart 350: The Top Plays

Tyler Reddick (#45 Toyota)

It makes too much sense to lead off the Toyota Save Mart 350 Preview with a Toyota driver, right? Reddick wasn’t as stellar as we hoped he’d be at COTA. However, he still grabbed a top five finish. In the NextGen car, we’ve seen him collect three wins already on road courses (Road America, Indy Road Course, and COTA in 2023). I will add one caveat to this section though. He hasn’t been great at Sonoma. In the last two races here, he’s finished outside the top 30. But I can’t completely disregard him because of the poor track history. He’s thrived on other road courses and has the ability to lead 20+ laps. There’s win equity and top-five potential. We want to load up on drivers that can put up big scores. Reddick can certainly do that.

Martin Truex Jr. (#19 Toyota)

The Toyota’s were pretty solid last week at Gateway. They all had speed and qualified well, save for Truex. MTJ actually ended up finishing outside the top 30. That’s unfortunate, but a great bounce-back opportunity awaits him at Sonoma. Truex, and all of the Toyota’s, had a poor run in the 2022 version of this race. However, they returned to glory last year with Truex going to victory lane. He led 51 laps with a driver rating of 143.4 and he’s won three of the last five races at Sonoma. In his last 11 races here, he’s led 15+ laps on six different occasions with four total wins. In all four wins he’s led over 50 laps. So, you can build lineups with him in mind to dominate and win. With the rest of your lineup, you can target position differential and good finishes.

William Byron (#24 Chevrolet)

We included Byron in the COTA preview earlier in the year and he absolutely crushed it. He won the race from the pole with 42 laps led and 10 fastest laps. Sure, it’s always risky to play the polesitter on a road course. But he paid off in a big way. Similar to Reddick, Sonoma is not his preferred road course. However, coming into this race, he’s finished first, second, and first in the last three NextGen road course races. Above all else, it’s been about two months since he went to Victory Lane so he might be due. But it’s the evolution and progression of road courses over the last year that really has my attention.

Toyota Save Mart 350: Wouldn’t Bet Against Them

Chris Buescher (#17 Ford)

You could make the argument Buescher belongs in the section below as a sleeper. But he isn’t a value. And he’s been in contention to win a couple of times this year. We all know that RFK Racing has arguably emerged as the best Fords in the field. So Buescher seems appropriate for this section. We don’t really think of him as a true “road course ringer,” but the results have been pretty strong. Two years ago, when Daniel Suarez won this race, Buescher finished second after running in the top five most of the day. In the last 11 road races in the NextGen car, his worst finish is 11th. What’s even better is that qualifying has been tough for him at times on road courses. But he still possesses top-10 potential. Position differential, top 10 equity, and maybe a little win juice as well? Sign me up!

Michael McDowell (#34 Ford)

McDowell had a modest reputation as a road course racer before the NextGen car. But over the last two years, he’s really shined. The equipment hasn’t always been elite, but he’s shown up on road courses. He’s finished third and seventh in the last two years at this track. McDowell even managed to win last year’s road race at Indianapolis because of the modified road course rules in 2023 where they didn’t have stage breaks. McDowell kind of comes into Sonoma as the opposite of William Byron. Byron has been great in the last three road races. McDowell has not. But I don’t want to completely write him off. He’s shown that at this track in particular, he can score very well.

Ty Gibbs (#54 Toyota)

Yes, it’s another week where I’m previewing Ty Gibbs. But this time I don’t have a ton of confidence. However, everyone wants to be on him for his first Cup Series win. The big concern is the lack of experience at Sonoma. For the longest time, the Xfinity Series didn’t race at Sonoma. So Gibbs’ debut on this track was last year. But he has flashed upside on road courses. His first career Xfinity Series win came at Daytona’s road course and he also collected wins at Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, and Road America. For the Cup Series, he finished third at COTA earlier this year and he was top 10 last year at Chicago, Watkins Glen, and the Charlotte Roval. He’s inching closer and closer to that first win and the equipment is outstanding so I’m more than happy rostering him this week regardless of where he starts.

Top NASCAR Sleepers and Values

Chase Briscoe (#14 Ford)

Let’s be perfectly clear, there is a lot of variance with this play. Since joining the NASCAR Cup Series he’s had his ups and downs on road courses. Back in 2021, he finished top 10 at COTA, Road America, and Watkins Glen. In 2022, the first year of the NextGen car, he finished top 15 at Sonoma, Road America, and the Charlotte Roval. Last year he only had one top 10 finish on a road course but earlier this year he had a great run at COTA where he started P32 and finished 13th. That’s one hell of a score because of the position differential. But despite the good results, he has eight finishes of 22nd or worse in his last 14 road course races.

Austin Cindric (#2 Ford)

I never feel great writing about Austin Cindric. Even last week I said he was a fade starting P2 and he won at Gateway because Ryan Blaney ran out of fuel. The road course resume isn’t awful, but since 2022 he’s severely regressed. That year he finished top 10 at COTA, Sonoma, Road America, and Indy, and he was 13th at Watkins Glen. Last year he did finish sixth at COTA but was placing between 15th and 25th everywhere else. Now if he’s starting outside the top 20, that’s fine and worth exposure. He does have a road course background and collected wins in the Xfinity Series at comparable tracks. It also doesn’t help that he tends to over-qualify his car similar to last week at Gateway when he started on the front row.

Cam Waters (#60 Ford)

We go down under to wrap up the Toyota Save Mart 350 preview. RFK Racing is likely hoping they strike gold with Waters similar to Trackhouse with Shane Van Gisbergen last year at Chicago. Waters hails from Australia and he drives in the Supercars Championship series. He’s also run a couple of races this year in the Craftsman Truck Series. But at least for this race, he’ll feel more comfortable on the road course layout. RFK has been excelling in terms of equipment and performance. We’ve already written up Chris Buescher as a viable play. While pricing hasn’t yet come out, we likely shouldn’t see Waters at a hefty price tag. The practice session will be huge for him, but there’s some upside in this equipment.

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