The first road course race of the season is this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, and that means one thing for the FOX Fantasy Auto game: there’s going to be a wide range different rosters and drivers picked. The races at road courses aren’t as unpredictable as restrictor plate tracks, but it’s close. Strategy and fuel mileage gambles come into play more often than not whenever we come to Sonoma, and now that we have the Stages to deal with as well, this weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 could get really crazy. Don’t be afraid to leave some cap room on the table this week, as there are some really good picks priced mid-range in this game for Sunday.
My team points last week (Michigan): 167
Overall team standings: 99th percentile (it’s not showing a ranking)
Total team points for the season: 2,568
Top FOX Fantasy Auto Drivers for the 2017 Sonoma Race
Kevin Harvick ($11,900) – For the third week in a row, Kevin Harvick messed up his final lap of qualifying and will start from 12th on Sunday. The good news for him is that it is much easier to pass here at Sonoma than it was at Michigan last week. As far as this track goes, Harvick hasn’t gone to victory lane at Sonoma, but he’s still a very solid road course racer. He has wound up 6th and 4th here over the last two years and has finished inside the top 10 in five of the last seven. The #4 Ford wasn’t terribly fast in Practice #1 this weekend but during Happy Hour, Harvick was 7th on the overall speed chart and tied for 2nd-best in ten-lap average. A top 5 finish is well within reach for this #4 team this weekend.
Joey Logano ($10,100) – Another guy that messed up during qualifying this weekend was Joey Logano, as he was well on his way to the final round of qualifying but messed up the final turn almost as bad as Denny Hamlin did at the end of the race here last season. I guess it looks worse on TV when you do it on purpose. Anyway, there should be a good amount of speed in the #22 Ford this weekend, and Logano has been great here at Sonoma recently, with top 5 finishes in each of the last two races here along with results of 11th or better in five of the last six. Joey finally broke his bad luck streak with a top 5 finish at Michigan last weekend, and you know he wants to keep that momentum going. As long as he runs a clean race here on Sunday, he should challenge for a top 10 finish.
Clint Bowyer ($9,500) – Clint Bowyer is an elite road course racer that is under-priced in FOX Fantasy Auto this weekend and qualified back in 13th for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. Sounds like a damn good pick to me. The #14 Ford was 4th-fastest in Practice #1 this weekend and ranked 8th on the Happy Hour speed chart, so you know the car has some power. As far as Bowyer’s record here at Sonoma, he has posted four top 5s in the last six races here and has wound up inside the top 10 in all but three of his eleven career attempts at this track. Clint does have one victory here (back in 2012) and should be a top 5 threat on Sunday.
Kurt Busch ($8,900) – I’m just riding the Stewart-Haas Racing train this weekend. Hell, even Danica Patrick ($5,700) could be a sleeper pick this weekend, as she qualified 6th for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. Anyway, Kurt Busch is majorly under-priced in FOX Fantasy Auto coming into this weekend, and his 17th-place qualifying effort only makes him that much more of a great pick. The elder Busch brother is one of the best road course racers in the Cup Series garage and hasn’t finished worse than 12th here at Sonoma since back in 2010. In the six races since then, Kurt has one victory (in 2011) and four top 5s. The #41 Ford was 6th-fastest on the Happy Hour speed chart this weekend, and Busch is more than capable of passing some cars on Sunday.
Other viable options: Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson
Stay away from…
Erik Jones ($7,000) – Seeing a driver of Erik Jones’ caliber qualify 30th would usually make him a must-pick in FOX Fantasy Auto, but don’t forget that we’re not at a normal race track this weekend. Road course venues are incredibly hard for rookies to run well at, especially when they didn’t have a lot of success at them in the lower series. This weekend has been nothing but a struggle for Erik Jones and this #77 team, as the driver wrecked the primary car in practice on Friday and the team had to bring out the backup. But even then, Jones never showed much speed, as he was 34th-fastest in both practice sessions that day. It’s hard to imagine Erik finishing better than 20th here in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, and that’s if he can make a full 90 laps around this twisting and turning race track. There are better options in this price range for Sonoma.
Brad Keselowski ($10,000) – This isn’t an “avoid like the plague” designation for Brad Keselowski, but moreso a “there are much better options available in this price range.” The fact of the matter is that Brad isn’t very good at Sonoma, as evidenced by his 19th-place average finish here and only one top 10 result to his credit (back in 2011). Now, because the Blue Deuce wound up 23rd in qualifying, that makes Keselowski more viable than he was coming into the weekend (due to the place differential points), but keep in mind that even if the #2 Ford comes home 13th on Sunday, that’s only 38 fantasy points in this FOX Fantasy Auto game–the same amount the 3rd-place finisher receives without taking into account place differential. Keselowski could be a decent off-sequence pick in FOX this weekend, but with 22% of teams already having him before qualifying on Saturday, that number should only go up. I’d go with someone else.