Fantasy Fuel – Sonoma Edition
Posted by: Dave Thompson, follow @phillyfan17
June 21, 2012
We are done with the back-to-back repave oval-tracks this week as the Sprint Cup Series heads to the west coast for the first of two road-course races on the schedule. The track most recently known as Infineon Raceway, now wants to be known as Sonoma. Regardless of the name, this track is truly one of the great road courses in the US.
Of course, this week we will see the so-called ”road-course experts” emerge for the first of two races they get to flash their skills for all to see. While no “road ringer” has won a road course race in the Sprint Cup Series, they normally play a factor in the race and may even crack the top-10 when the checkered flag waves. Fantasy owners will need to take a close look at the Yahoo Group C drivers and consider taking a chance on one of the “ringers”.
A quick look back at last year’s race had Kurt Busch, driving the No. 22, grabbing his first road-course win and dominated by leading 76 of the 110 laps. Jeff Gordon finished as runner-up with Carl Edwards taking third-place. Clint Bowyer scored his third top-five finish at Sonoma with his fourth-place finish and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has struggled in 2012 and probably someone most owners will likely avoid this week, but his history at this track is something that cannot be overlooked. He has five wins at Sonoma in 19 starts with 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. Gordon ran well last week at Michigan and came home with a sixth-place finish. While he has not performed well this year at tracks he typically has success, I think he comes through this week with a top-five.
Alternate pick – Tony Stewart – Stewart has two consecutive top-five finishes in the last weeks and when he momentum he is tough to beat. In addition, Stewart is one of the best road-courses races in NASCAR and heads to a track where he has four top-10′s in his last five races. Last year, if it were not for Brian Vickers intentionally wrecking him there could well be five straight top-10′s. Stewart is no stranger to Victory Lane at Sonoma having visited there twice in 13 starts.
Marcos Ambrose – Ambrose had been haunted by his mistake in the 2010 race at Sonoma when he had the victory in-hand until last August when he finally won his first Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. If owners recall, he was trying to save fuel, but while attempting to go uphill he stalled and fell back in the pack. He finished that race in sixth-place. Ambrose won his first career pole last week, and Michigan and overall had a pretty decent season, but if he has hopes of making the Chase he needs a win. This week is one of his best chances to win and having finished in the top-10, in three of four races at Sonoma, he is a must this week.
Clint Bowyer – Bowyer is not one of the drivers that come to mind when you think road-courses, but oddly enough in his six starts at Sonoma he has scored three top-five finishes. He has not finished worse than 13th in the last seven races and has three straight top-10 finishes. Look for Bowyer to continue his success at Sonoma this week and perhaps even pull off the upset win.
Alternate pick – Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya won at Sonoma in his first career start there, but has not been able to match his rookie success. His season has been a disappointment thus far, but last week he pulled off his best finish of 2012 (eight-place) at Michigan. Montoya does have four top-10 finishes in five starts at Sonoma, plus a win at Watkins Glen in 2010. He is a bit of a risk this week, but worth consideration in Group B.
Brian Vickers – Vickers is back in the No. 55 this week and could be an owners best option this week in Group C. While most will remember his clash with Stewart last year, Vickers could earn a top-15, if he stays out of trouble. Prior to last year, Vickers had two top-15 finishes and won the pole in 2009.
Alternate pick – Boris Said – It was announced earlier in the week that Said will be in the No. 32 of Frank Stoddard at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Said is certainly a better option in the No. 32 than Terry Labonte or Ken Schrader, but remains a risky pick. He drove James Finch’s No. 51 last year at Sonoma, ran up front with the leaders, but ultimately fell back in the pack to finish 28th.
Posted: June 21st, 2012
Categories: Featured, Nascar Sprint Cup Series.
Tags: Boris Said, Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer, Fantasy Racing Picks, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, marcos ambrose, NASCAR Fantasy Picks, SONOMA, Tony Stewart