Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Toyota/Save Mart 350

Goodbye, Gateway, and hello, Wine Country.

After last week’s returns in both the DraftKings Fantasy lobbies I played, and the bet slip I put on Ryan Blaney, I need a good glass of the red stuff.

This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series pays its annual visit to Sonoma Raceway nestled in the scenic landscapes of Northern California.

This track is a 12-turn road course with several uphill sections. Winning this race will depend on a number of things, but most important among them is track position. Only two drivers have started outside of the top 15 and won since the NASCAR Cup Series began racing in 1989: Juan Pablo Montoya started 32nd in 2007 and Kyle Busch started 30th in 2008.

Pit strategy will be another key, as stage breaks returned to road courses earlier this season. Timing pit stops and making key adjustments will be critical in determining who is in contention.

Another thing that will be important when considering your lineups and bets this weekend will be paying attention to the statistics. The drivers who tend to run well at most road courses on the schedule will likely run well here.

Coverage of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway begins Sunday (June 8) at 3 p.m. ET on Fox.

See also
NASCAR 101: Do Drivers Who Participate in Tire Tests Have an Advantage at Road Courses?

Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track are added to or subtracted from their score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led and 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Fantasy Forecast

1. William Byron ($10,200)

Stats that matter: Winner of two of the last three road courses races (Watkins Glen International 2023, Circuit of the Americas 2024); started on the front row for both of those wins

One thing cannot be argued here. Byron is in the midst of a bit of an early summer slump.

Sure, since winning at Martinsville earlier this season, driver No. 24 has amassed four top-10 finishes. On the flip side, he’s had three finishes of 15th or worse.

So why am I picking him to lead the lineup this week? That’s easy: he has been consistently fast in qualifying. When crew chief Rudy Fugle gives Byron a good piece for time trials, he usually end up winning the race.

If he can put his Chevrolet Camaro on the front row this weekend, it’s absolutely academic that Byron is going to win.

2. Chase Elliott ($9,300)

Stats that matter: Seven career road course wins, most among active drivers; zero of those wins have come at Sonoma, despite an average finish of 12.1 there

He’s baaaaack.

After a week hiatus, the 2020 champion returns to the lineup yet again this week, at a place he should run well at.

In theory, that is. Yes, Elliott is the leader in road course wins in the series right now and isn’t that far behind Jeff Gordon for most all time.

Lately, however, it just hasn’t been the same for the one-time road course king.

The emergence of Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick and Byron’s road course racing abilities has made for more competition. The Next Gen car doesn’t handle at all like the old one, as Elliott has been on record saying that it’s meant he’s had to change his entire driving style.

But this might be the weekend he returns to the throne. He almost won this race last year off a gutsy call from crew chief Alan Gustafson. With a win under his belt, he has even less to lose this time around.

3. AJ Allmendinger ($8,800)

Stats that matter: 14 career wins on road courses (three in the Cup Series, 11 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series); finished sixth in this race last season

Now for the man who might be the greatest to ever drive a stock car left and right.

Allmendinger is just truly astounding on this type of layout. He knows more about road course racing than anyone and he’s got the hardware to back it up. He doesn’t have any wins at Sonoma, but last year he got closer than ever, running in the top five pretty much all afternoon.

With some questioning the decision to move him back to the Xfinity Series this season, it would be a perfect time for him to reemerge into relevancy with a great run on Sunday.

4. Austin Cindric ($8,200)

Stats that matter: Won last week at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (first time since 2022); seven top-10 finishes on road courses in the Cup Series (most of any layout); five road course wins in the Xfinity Series

A win can really turn everything around.

Cindric’s time at Team Penske was definitely coming into question after an abysmal 2023 season and a pretty bad start to the 2024 season. That all changed when teammate Blaney ran out of fuel and made way for him to get the win at Gateway.

It came at a good time, too, as Cindric has long been known as a road course ace. Look for him to back up the win with at the very least a top-10 run this weekend.

5. Daniel Suarez ($8,000)

Stats that matter: One career win at Sonoma (2022); career average finish of 13.8 at Sonoma

Who could forget when Suarez finally got his first career Cup win at Sonoma back in 2022?

His win at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this season may have been more memorable, but there is no doubt that this place is special to him and his fans.

See also
Friday Faceoff: What Are Expectations for Austin Cindric After Gateway Win?

Since that win, Suarez hasn’t been much of a factor week after week, but he’s definitely a threat here. He always seems to qualify well for this race, with a career average start of 10.8. If he can hold onto his track position, or even advance it, chances are you’ll reap the benefits.

6. Zane Smith ($5,500)

Stats that matter: Two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins on road courses; finished 19th at COTA earlier this season

I am basing this pick entirely on Smith’s road course skills he showed in the Truck Series over the years.

Being entirely out of funds due to my top-heavy lineup this weekend, you got to make do with what remains, and there’s probably none better than Smith. He had one of his best runs of the season at COTA, though he’s done nothing of note with Spire Motorsports so far this season.

It could be a pretty good weekend for this young driver, should things line up correctly.

Prop Bets and Locks

  1. Martin Truex Jr., (+1,100) to win: Truex is the defending race winner at Sonoma, so it’s a little strange to see him as such an underdog. You could make some serious cash with just a small buy-in.
  2. Chris Buescher (+1,400) to win: Buescher has proven himself a rather adept road course racer in the past. This one is another low-risk, big-reward money line. Buyer beware, however. His luck as far as winning this season has been abysmal.
  3. Denny Hamlin to win (+2,000): OK, so Hamlin hasn’t won a road course race in a very long time (nearly 10 years ago now), but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to do it. He’s been a great qualifier on these tracks, and remember, track position is key.

Good luck and happy betting! Break out the Moscato and let the good vibes roll.

About the author

Screenshot 2024 02 13 12.27.21 Am

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV.

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