When I was a young man, my family and I went on a vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. We did the normal family thing for 7 days: we went to the beach during the day, went out to eat at night and looked for seashells. Well, one of those nights the kids got to decide what to do. And what did we do? There just happened to be a go-kart track down the road from our hotel. My dad, brother and I went down to the go-kart track, but I was little confused. There were right turns in it. I was 12 years old, and I thought every track just had left turns, because that’s what I watched on TV with the NASCAR series. This had right turns, but I was okay with it; I was just happy to race. The green light finally came on, and I feel a big nudge in the rear of my kart. My brother was already bumping me. Keep in mind he is only a year older than me, so there was the sibling rivalry, of course. The race finally starts, and we are all running pretty well. I finally pass my dad with about a lap to go, and I thought I was smooth sailing now. As I am heading to the final turn, my brother bumps me out of the way and goes on to win the race. When I was finally able to get out of the go-kart, I walked straight over to my brother and punched him right in the face. It was then, at the age of 12, that I felt the emotion that racing can bring out in someone. That was the only punch I landed after my older brother decided to teach me a lesson. After that, my brother and I were banned from that particular go-kart track for the rest of the vacation. My brother actually passed away a couple years ago in a terrible car accident, but I am forever grateful I have those memories with him.
We will be racing at Sonoma Raceway this week for NASCAR’s first road course of the season. There will probably be only 2 or 3 dominators, and for the rest, you will need to nail the place differential. I would also like to add that the fuel window is around 35 laps, and the stage length is 25 laps. Therefore, you will see a lot cars pitting under green and trying to gain positions, so the cars will be flip-flopping all day. You will see names like Billy Johnson, Boris Said and Alon Day this week. These guys are considered road course ringers; if you roster them, really pay attention to where they qualify. This week will be a lot different than most, and you will see a lot of new names as I have mentioned above. I would also like to add a note: not all road courses are the same, so if AJ Allmendinger runs well at Watkins Glen, that doesn’t mean he will not necessarily do well at Sonoma. Now, I will jump into my favorite plays this week on Draftkings. I like to get my research from driveraverages.com, NASCAR mobile app, and jayski.com.
Top Tier – Cash & GPP
Kevin Harvick – ($9,900)
Kevin has never won here at Sonoma; this is one of 4 tracks that he currently hasn’t won. Kevin really messed up his qualifying lap, and he will start 12th. He has one top 5 and one top 10 in the last two races at Sonoma, but Kevin ranks 3rd in quality passes at there. He said he loved the speed the car had in race trim. Look for him to make his way to the front.
Kurt Busch – ($9,800)
In the last two races, Kurt has 1 top 5 and 1 top 10, and is 3rd in quality passes at Sonoma. Kurt owns the highest driver rating at Sonoma. He qualified 17th, but I look for him to make his way to the (top) using pit strategy.
Kyle Larson – ($9,300)
It sure looked like Kyle messed his qualifying lap, as he wheel hopped coming into turn 11. Fortunately, he didn’t and is once again sitting on the pole. We are watching greatness as we speak with Larson’s talent behind the wheel. Last week he won two poles: Michigan and two dirt track races. This is the closest track to Larson’s hometown, so look for him to put on a show for his friends and family.
Kasey Kahne – ($8,000)
Now, this is not a name that we will hear much about at road courses, but let’s take a look at some of the numbers. Kasey has the 2nd most quality passes at Sonoma. He has an average start of 22.5 and an average finish of 8.5. In the last two races, he had two top 10 finishes. According to the numbers, Kahne should make for a great place differential play.
Dark Horse GPP
Ryan Newman – ($7,900)
Newman is not a name that will attract much attention to many fantasy players, but the veteran should be a good place differential play. Ryan owns an average start of 16.5 and an average finish of 8.5. Newman ranks 6th in quality passes, and as all NASCAR fans know, he makes it very difficult on other drivers to pass him. He has two top 10s in the last two races at Sonoma.
Boris Said – ($5,100)
A long time road course racer at Sonoma and a true veteran, I love Said’s price this week. Boris has competed at Sonoma for years. He has 5 top 10s in 16 career races. A driver with a good chance to finish with positive place place differential at 5,100? Sign me up for that all day.