The Fantasy File – Sonoma raceway

Hello fantasy NASCAR fans. As you all know the 2013 NASCAR Sprint cup series rolls into wine country this weekend for the running of Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350. Each week I will provide all you fantasy players out there with a scouting report for the race weekend ahead. Wheatear you are leading your perspective fantasy league, or need an insider’s persuasion to gain some points on the competition. You’ve come to the right place.
Race #16 on the NASCAR Sprint cup series schedule promises to shake things up in the point standings as we inch closer to the chase. Can Denny Hamlin turn his recent miserable luck around on the tricky turns of Sonoma raceway? Can Marcos Ambrose finally conquer Sonoma? Will we have a fist time winner? Can one of the road course ringers finally find their way to victory lane for the first since Mark Donohue last did in 1973? For the answer to these and other burning questions tune in Sunday 3:00PM EST on TNT for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Pick em – These drivers are a sure fire bet to score you some major fantasy points.

1. Marcos Ambrose – Marcos Ambrose once classified as a proverbial road course ringer knows a thing or two about getting around the cantankerous turns of Sonoma. Unfortunately Sonoma hasn’t shown the loveably aussie any love. Subjected to heartbreaker after heartbreaker Marcos in 5 starts at Sonoma has rolled off 2 top 5’s & 4 top 10’s. Yet no wins in those 5 starts. Marcos started on pole in 2012. Perhaps his ultimate heartbreak came in 2010 when Marcos lead 35 laps of the event only to fade towards the end of the race. Marcos recorded His best Sonoma finish of 3rd in 2009 driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. Regardless if he writes off Sonoma from his bucket list on Sunday Marcos is a solid pick for you fantasy team this week.
2 Clint Bowyer- Consider a catalyst for MWR’s breakout season in 2012, Clint Bowyer shocked the NASCAR nation when he scored his first career win on a road course last June in Sonoma. Although a repeat is not out of the question it’s obvious the 5 hour energy team is searching for a formula to duplicate those 2012 numbers. Clint is a solid pick this week. He’s finished in the top 5 in 5 of the last 6 Sonoma races. Oh! Did we forget he won the race last year, but you probably knew that!

3 Kurt Busch – Whether you like Kurt Busch or despise him, you can’t deny his relentless determination to prove to the NASCAR nation he’s turned the corner. And who are we to disagree. Kurt along with his team Furniture Row Racing have both enjoyed success early on in the 2013 season. Judging by some of his recent momentum you get the feeling Kurt is only weeks away from tasting victory for the first time in nearly two years. This weekend could be that weekend given the fact Kurt nearly won this race in 2012 with another underfunded underdog James Finch’s Phoenix racing entry. Kurt is a former Sonoma winner winning back in 2011 with Penske Racing.

4 Jeff Gordon- Jeff Gordon may not be the force to be reckon with he once was, but one can’t deny he still can get it done on the road course. Winning at Sonoma would be the ultimate confidence boost for the seasoned veteran looking for another chase appearance, and a fifth NASCAR Sprint cup series championship. Jeff has recorded five wins at Sonoma the last coming in 2006. Gordon has not finished outside the top 10 in the last 7 Sonoma races. He’s a good dark horse pick for Sunday. You can never count out this world class champion out at any time.

5. Tony Stewart- Smoke for some reason or another heat’s up when the sun gets hot. No stranger to streaky summer surges smoke’s Stewart Haas team is looking hot as of late. Although Tony hasn’t won at Sonoma since 2005 he’s finished in the top 10 in 5 of the last 6 Sonoma races.

Sit em – Buyer beware of these drivers this week

1 Dale Earnhardt Jr- Junior nation will have to wait another week for their man to break another winless drought. In 13 career starts Dale jr has finished no higher than 11th on three separate occasions (03,04,10)

2 Denny Hamlin- Let’s face it 2013 hasn’t been kind to Denny Hamlin. Sorry Denny fans this week probably won’t get much better. Already facing inestimable odds of making the 2013 edition of the Chase Denny has the daunting task of taking on Sonoma this week. Hamlin’s last three Sonoma finishes are as follows 10-34,11-37,12-35 good grief!

3 Matt Kenseth- Road course racing is just not Matt Kenseth forte. In 13 Sonoma starts Kenseth has only one top 10 finish to his credit 8th in 2008.

4 Paul Menard- Forget about it. In 5 Sonoma starts Paul’s best finish is 17th back in 2011.

Don’t you forget about me- These drivers could be your ace in the holes.

1 Juan Montoya – World class vet Juan Montoya is always considered to be a favorite when the Sprint cup series goes road course racing. A former winner of this event in 2007 Juan’s overall performance has improved as of late. That momentum combined with his road course experience could land the pride of bogota back in the winner’s circle for the first time since 2010.

2 David Gilliland – Everybody loves a good David vs. goliath story. We’ve already witnessed one giant slaying in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint cup series. It was Gilliland’s teammate another David ( David Ragan) who pulled off that awesome feat. Ironically it was David Gilliland who played the part of second best that magical day at Talladega. Gilliland is a noteworthy dark horse candidate to win on Sunday. Why you ask? Simply based on the fact that David finished 2nd to Kyle Busch in this race in 2008, and he has a great deal of experience at this track from his K&N West series days. As a matter of fact David has won twice in the K&N series at Sonoma (07,08)

3 Jacques Villeneuve – French Canadian hero Jacques Villeneuve gets another kick at the can on Sunday. Jacques still in search of his first victory in NASCAR could have a legitimate chance on Sunday at Sonoma. Jacques will pilot James Finch’s #51 Phoenix racing entry. Yes, Finch’s entry is the same car that finished 3rd last season with Kurt Busch at the wheel. Despite Jacques limited experience racing at the Sprint cup level he makes up for in overall road racing expertise. Jacques like other road course ringers has failed to see checkers in NASCAR road course racing events. Could this be the year the former F1 champ finds that elusive NASCAR victory? In 9 NASCAR Nationwide series races Jacques has 4 top5 finishes all coming at the track that bears his father’s name in Montreal.

Best of luck on Sunday to all the NASCAR fantasy players, enjoy the race on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of racingwest.com

Topics: Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Jacques Villeneuve, Jeff Gordon, Juan Montoya, Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth, Sonoma, Tony Stewart

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