Sunny California will host its first NASCAR race of the season as the Toyota / Save Mart 350 comes to the Sonoma Raceway this Sunday. It will mark the third road course of the season and the first time since 2019 drivers will run the 2.5 mile road course in wine country. Once again drivers did not get to practice or qualify, so starting positions were based on NASCAR’s formula Kyle Larson was given the pole due to his strong showing last week in Charlotte. The sun and the grapes are a perfect backdrop for another week of Monkey Knife Fight prop contests.
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Here are some of my favorite plays from this week’s contests. Scoring in these contests is based on finishing positions inside the Top 20 with 20 points awarded to first place. An additional 0.1 points are tacked on for each lap led. Below are some picks to help you get started in your MKF contests.
More Or Less
Kyle Busch More Than 16.5 Fantasy Points
It’s been a season of highs and lows for Kyle Busch and the M&M’s Toyota. The good news is that there have been more highs than lows. He is coming into Sonoma with 11 Top-10 finishes including two victories. Busch will also go west on the heels of a third-place run last week in Charlotte. The lows he’s endured include a 27th place finish in Dover, a 35th at the Daytona Road Course, and a 25th in Phoenix. Although for Rowdy, any finish that does not result in a checkered flag is disappointing.
This week he’ll roll off the Sonoma starting grid from the fifth position. He will only need to finish one position better, or lead at least five laps and finish where he started. There is some risk to this prop as over the last three seasons, he’s only hit this mark once. Although he turned in two fifth-place finishes in 2017 and 2018, he only managed to lead three laps in the process. Last season though, he finished second, banking this bet. Give Busch the nod for a Top-3 finish this week and easily covering this total.
Kyle Larson More Than 18.5 Fantasy Points
On the surface, Kyle Larson does not stand a chance of hitting this prop. He’s started on the pole the last three Toyota / Save Mart 350 runnings. He failed to hang on to that spot at the finish in all three. His best finish in that span was a 10th-place offering in 2019. The worst was a 26th place showing in 2016. It is worth noting though, that all of his six career Cup starts at the Sonoma Raceway have been as a driver for Chip Ganassi Racing. This is no longer the case.
Larson now rides with the power Hendrick Motorsports under his hood. On top of that, he will lead the pack to the green flag picking up where he left off last week in Charlotte. The #5 car took the checkered flag at the Coca-Cola 600. In the process, he made his car owner the all-time winnings owner in NASCAR history.
The accolades for HMS on road courses and this track are numerous. Among them are most wins at Sonoma (six), and most laps led here (674). Larson already leads all drivers with 1,105 laps led this season. He finished first or second in the last four races. There are only nine total points up for grabs in the lap leading department. That said, he won’t need too many to hit this mark seeing as though a second-place finish will cash it outright. It won’t matter much anyway as Larson will be winning this race.
Denny Hamlin More Fantasy Points Than William Byron (+0.5)
As successful as the Hendrick cars have been this season and at this track, in the end, it comes down to the driver. In two career starts at the Sonoma Raceway, William Byron has started inside the Top-10 both times. Both times he has failed to stay there. In his first start, he started 8th and finished in 25th place. In 2019, he rolled off from the outside pole. That day, he crossed the finish line in 19th position. This week thanks to this team’s dominance performance at Charlotte, he was awarded a third-place start. He’s been on a tear this season, but sometimes a track just gets the best of a driver. This will be the case here as well. Not to mention, he suffered a 33rd place finish at the Daytona Road Course. He also failed to capitalize on a fifth-place start at the COTA finishing in 11th place.
As for Hamlin, he enters Sonoma on the strength of four straight top-10 finishes. On top of that, he’s led 52 laps in that span. After a hot start to his season, the NASCAR points leader has checked up a bit, but hasn’t hit the breaks completely. Since his 32nd place finish at Talladega, he’s still managed to reach the top-10 in three out of the last five races. Hamlin will start fourth on Sunday and should stay towards the front by the time the race ends. The fact that he can and should lead a few laps along the way gives the proper cushion to edge out Byron to hit this prop.
Kevin Harvick More Fantasy Points Than Joey Logano (+0.5)
It seems that the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing made quite the difference for Kevin Harvick and his performance in Sonoma. Before his move, he only managed five top-10 finishes in 13 attempts. In that span, he led 10 total laps. Since assuming his new ride, he’s had five top-10 finishes in his last six races here. In that span, he paced the field 85 times. It also includes his only victory in wine country. Harvick has had several strong runs this season with 12 top-10 finishes so far with five of them coming over the last seven races. This week, he starts in 8th place, this is close enough to the front for him to lead a few laps and finish strong again.
On the flip side, Joey Logano’s luck in Sonoma has not been as kind. His best finish over the last three seasons has been his 12th place outing in 2017. In the last two Toyota / Save Mart 350 runnings, he finished in 19th and 23rd place. He’ll roll off from the 13th position this Sunday. In his 11 career Cup starts on this track, he has only improved on his starting position on three occasions. It’s not looking good for him to do this again this week.