This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
Toyota/Save Mart 350
Location: Sonoma, Calif.
Course: Sonoma Raceway
Format: 1.99-mile road course
NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race Preview
The NASCAR Cup Series goes road racing on the west coast this week at Sonoma Raceway. A week ago, Kyle Busch joined William Byron as a three-time winner this season after surviving an onslaught of caution flags and restarts at the end of the Enjoy Illinois 300. Sonoma is the second of six road course races on the schedule. The first of the year was March's visit to the Circuit of the Americas. Tyler Reddick won that race, which is his only win of the year so far. He won twice on the road courses last season. The new Cup Series car opened the door for several drivers to grab their first series wins on road courses last season, and the Sonoma stop was one of those instances with Daniel Suarez capturing his first series victory. A number of drivers still winless in 2023 will be viewing a road course visit as their opportunity to get to Victory Lane and claim a spot in the playoffs. Suarez and Ross Chastain both won on road courses last season yet remain winless in 2023. Add Xfinity Series road course aces like Austin Cindric and Ty Gibbs and Sunday's race in California's win country is shaping up to be a hotly contested affair.
Key Stats at Sonoma Raceway
- Number of races: 33
- Winners from pole: 6
- Winners from top-5 starters: 17
- Winners from top-10 starters: 24
- Winners from 21st or lower starters: 2
- Fastest race: 83.922 mph
Previous 10 Sonoma Winners
2022 - Daniel Suarez
2021 - Kyle Larson
2019 - Martin Truex Jr.
2018 - Martin Truex Jr.
2017 - Kevin Harvick
2016 - Tony Stewart
2015 - Kyle Busch
2014 - Carl Edwards
2013 - Martin Truex Jr.
2012 - Clint Bowyer
Sonoma Raceway is a natural-terrain road course with multiple off-camber and blind apex turns. The elevation changes coupled with the mostly medium-speed corners make getting into a rhythm essential for success. There are basically two places where overtaking is possible. The first follows "the chute" into turn 7. Drivers can attempt to out brake one another there before entering the esses, and the second is entering the final hairpin, turn 11. Making passes in either passing zone means strategically setting up the cars ahead and out-braking them into the corner or bumping from behind to move the car ahead off of the racing line. Like most road courses, track position and pit strategy are two of the most important factors. Sonoma's long lap time enables plenty of opportunities to pit off sequence but still remain on the lead lap. Maximizing lap time without traffic is a great way to gain track position. Teams no longer have the stage break cautions to leverage, which makes the timing of cautions a more critical component to strategy than previous. Cup Series driver skill on road courses has grown in recent seasons, which makes choosing obvious favorites for Sunday even more difficult than the past.
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DraftKings Value Picks for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
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NASCAR DFS Picks for the Toyota/Save Mart 350
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Choosing a favorite at NASCAR's road courses isn't as easy as it once was. Chase Elliott (DK $10,300, FD $14,000) used to be the go-to driver at places like Sonoma, but that all changed with NASCAR's newest generation of car and driver. Elliott remains a confident selection, though. While he may not be the automatic favorite at Sonoma, he does have four top-10 finishes from six starts at the track. Elliott remains a reliable road course fantasy option despite the evolution of road course racing in the series. Another driver that continues rising to the top at road courses despite the increase in competition is AJ Allmendinger (DK $9,300, FD $10,500). Road course circuits may be Allmendinger's best chances at a win and a playoff spot in his return to full-time Cup Series racing. While he hasn't had the same success at Sonoma as some other tracks, Allmendinger typically puts up a good showing. His best Sonoma finish was seventh back in 2009, but he also qualified on pole in 2015. Allmendinger also led a lap in five of his last six series races at the track. Austin Cindric (DK $9,100, FD $9,500) was a stand out on road courses in his time in the Xfinity Series. That skill was on display on these tracks last year in the Cup Series, too. He finished fifth in his first Cup race at Sonoma last year despite starting back in 25th position. Teammate Joey Logano (DK $8,300, FD $7,500) may not be the first name that comes to mind at Sonoma, but his history there has been quite good. With three top-fives and five top-10s from 13 career starts he brings an average track finish of 13.7 to this week's race. He should be a reliable contender for a top-10 this Sunday.
Another driver that excelled on road courses in the Xfinity Series is Ty Gibbs (DK $7,500, FD $6,200). He won two Xfinity road races in 2021 and another in 2022. This week will be his first Cup Series start at Sonoma, but he finished ninth in an impressive Cup performance earlier this season at Circuit of the Americas. Lastly, Todd Gilliland (DK $5,200, FD $2,500) warrants roster consideration this week following his 10th-place finish at COTA in March. He started and finished 24th in this race last season but could easily be capable of more this week.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
Tyler Reddick (DK $10,400, FD $13,000) established himself as a road course favorite with two victories last season and another this year in March. While he could be considered a favorite this week at Sonoma, fantasy players should acknowledge his slight risk. In two prior Sonoma starts he has a best finish of 19th. While there is no question about his ability to win, it doesn't appear that he has the full grasp of this particular track quite yet. Another driver that established himself on road courses last season was Ross Chastain (DK $9,700, FD $12,000). Chastain won at COTA last season and finished fourth there again this year. He has two seventh-place finishes from three Sonoma starts, but has been in a bit of a slump recently. He will be hoping this week he can end his three-race streak of finishes outside of the top 20. Veteran Denny Hamlin (DK $8,900, FD $7,200) might be one to consider this week, too. He has been racing well recently with consistent top-10 speed, but he needs to finish out races in that position. Hamlin has never won at Sonoma, but he does bring three straight top-10 finishes at the track into the weekend.
One of the most underrated drivers on road courses is Michael McDowell (DK $7,400, FD $7,000). He actually came to NASCAR from a road racing background and these tracks are some where he outperforms expectations. Coming off of a strong run a week ago at Gateway could also give him a boost. McDowell finished third in this race last season, which was his best finish at the track. Another driver with top-10 potential at Sonoma is Erik Jones (DK $6,800, FD $6,000). He finished 11th or better in three of his five starts at the track and is looking to end a five-race run of finishes outside of the top 15. Fantasy players looking to stretch a bit at the bottom of the order should consider specialist Andy Lally (DK $6,200, FD $2,000). Lally is a road racing veteran that often makes series starts on these tracks. He has one Cup start at Sonoma under his belt from 2011 when he finished 35th. He has two road course starts with the new generation of car, but both ended with DNFs. He is one that can add finish differential points to fantasy totals if he is able to get to the checkered flag.