The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma slate locks at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($10,600) — The No. 5 car was on rails last season. Larson has always been fast at Sonoma, but his Chip Ganassi cars lacked long-run speed. In a Hendrick car, he whooped the field. Larson drove through the field twice at Sonoma. That is an impossible feat. The broadcasters were shocked. They thought he threw the race away with poor pit strategy. That’s how fast Larson was at Sonoma last season.
2. Chase Elliott ($10,400) — During the final restart, Elliott pushed his car to the limit and gave Larson a bit of a scare for a couple turns. That moment passed and Larson pulled away. Elliott looked great, but Larson was on another level.
3. Kyle Busch ($10,100) — With damage, he had a top-3 car. But even if his car were clean, he still had nothing for Larson. That’s not a slight, Larson was on some next-level stuff last season. Some good news is that NASCAR is dumping the carousel this season. Busch struggled with this rarely featured part of the track.
4. Martin Truex Jr ($10,000) — He gave it everything he had, but Larson was better and had a better car. Truex was head and shoulders better than the field, but Larson was discernibly faster.
5. William Byron ($9,200) — Several things need to happen for Byron to be relevant. The hardest part is done — speed and skill. Byron needs to be mistake free, play the strategy right and Larson/Elliott need bad luck. If all three happen, then he can win. If the first two happen, then he should earn a top-5 finish.
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6. Denny Hamlin ($9,600) — The JGR Toyotas were fast, but they were going to need strategy to beat Larson at Sonoma in 2021. Hamlin’s team gambled and unfortunately their strategy placed Hamlin in traffic, and he had to settle for a top-10 finish.
7. Joey Logano ($9,000) — The 2021 Hendrick-JGR party at Sonoma was crashed by Logano. He stole a fifth-place finish by running long in Stage 3 and catching a caution. This is not an anomaly. It’s very common to see unlikely top-10 and top-5 finishes at road courses during the stage racing era.
8. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) — Being a good road racer or good at a specific road track is overrated. That wasn’t always the case, but during the stage racing era, the rules of the game have changed. These races boil down to pit sequences and blocking during the few passing zones. Blaney is a decent road course racer, but does that matter?
9. Christopher Bell ($8,900) — All of the JGR drivers are great road course racers. All of the JGR Toyotas are fast at road courses. If it wasn’t for Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, then JGR would have a legitimate shot at sweeping the top four spots.
10. Alex Bowman ($7,900) — The Hendrick Chevys were fast at Sonoma last season. Bowman did not have top-5 speed, but he was easily a top-10 driver and finished ninth despite several dust ups. He is running the Sonoma Truck Race, so double duty might thrust Bowman into the top 5 this weekend.
11. Ross Chastain ($9,800) — Road racing isn’t the same. Drivers can win through strategy and villainy. That’s how Chastain won at COTA and that’s how he finished seventh — seven spots better than his average running position — at Sonoma in 2021.
12. Kevin Harvick ($8,100) — Since 2021, Harvick has an average finish of 17th in the seven road course races with a best of sixth and two top-10 finishes. His days of leading the most laps at a road course are behind him, but a win is never off the table. Tony Stewart won the final race of his career at Sonoma thanks in large part to a controversial caution flag and a mysterious mistake by Denny Hamlin on the final turn.
13. Tyler Reddick ($8,500) — The Cup Series did not race at Sonoma in 2020. Last season, for the first time ever, Sonoma was held without practice. The only laps Reddick received prior to the race were laps riding in the pace car. His average running position was 17.5, but that number was worsened by a loose wheel that relegated Reddick to 35th place for much of Stage 2.
14. Chris Buescher ($6,100) — His name may not come to mind when thinking of the best road racers in NASCAR, but it should. He may not be the best passer, but he is hard to pass.
15. Brad Keselowski ($6,600) — RFK’s road racing program has been fine for Buescher, so BK’s equipment should be fast enough. This isn’t his best road course, but it’s a strategy race, and those races always suit Keselowski.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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