The 2022 NASCAR season swings back through the West Coast for road course racing at Sonoma Raceway. The NASCAR Cup Series will be on full display on Sunday while the Trucks will race Sonoma Saturday afternoon. The NASCAR Xfinity Series gets the next two weekends off before making the big push toward the playoffs. Sonoma Raceway is a road course and one the Truck Series hasn’t raced on. Not to mention NASCAR will be running the previous layout for Sonoma without the carousel that really took away from one of the better passing zones on the track. This weekend is an intriguing one for the Truck Series from the standpoint that the trucks don’t typically run many road courses. This will be the second of four road courses on the schedule so while we don’t have a ton of data to pull from for Sonoma specifically, we can look at who has performed well on this style of track previously. Let’s dive into the top NASCAR DFS picks for Saturday’s race.
Sonoma is one of the more technical road courses we get on the schedule so it’s good that we’ve already seen NASCAR race at COTA earlier in the year which is another technical track. We also had a practice session yesterday but for whatever reason Fox didn’t air it. See below for yesterday’s practice results.
We only have 75 laps for this particular race. That leaves us with roughly 50 dominator points to work with. Per usual on road courses, you do not need to chase dominator points. You can lead the entire first stage but any penalty or accident and we’re looking at less-than-optimal options if we’re trying to squeeze in dominators. I’m not opposed to looking at drivers starting toward the front as finishing position plays.
This will definitely get some updates after qualifying. Not everyone is in the Playbook, including John Hunter Nemechek. I just didn’t want to write up the entire field, but we have plenty of time to dissect each driver since there’s a six-hour window between practice and qualifying. As always, updates will be in red.
Kyle Busch ($12,000) – It’s a KB51 week and I believe this is going to be his last Truck race of the season. Normally with the elevated price tag I’d tell you to lay off especially at a road course. But at this type of track if you can fit him in a build with five other drivers that you feel good about finishing in the top 10-15 then he’s in play. The nice thing is that we’ll get Busch at slightly depressed ownership because most of the DFS player in the field know there aren’t dominator points to target. Busch did collect about 10.9 dominator points at COTA while finishing third a few months back. You can fit him in easily at just $12,000. Update: Busch qualified P3 but will basically start on the front row next to Ross Chastain since Carson Hocevar will drop to the rear of the field. Busch is fine to play in GPP's but a bit risky in Cash games without dominator points readily available. You can pivot to John Hunter Nemechek and save some money. JHN showed great speed and offers a touch more PD rolling off P7.
Zane Smith ($10,300) – Zane started on the front row at COTA and went on to win. It marked the second straight year that someone in the 38-truck would win in Austin, Texas after Todd Gilliland did the same in 2021. Smith’s road course resume overall is okay, but this team sets the truck up for road courses very well. Gilliland won COTA last year and finished fourth at Watkins Glen and Daytona’s road course in 2021 as well. It’s hard to find anyone that really stands out in this series because we just haven’t seen many road races for the trucks the last few years, but Zane has a win and the truck has been fast all year. Plus, he’s coming off a very strong Cup Series debut scoring a top 20 finish last week at Gateway so he’s got a little momentum. Update: Zane start P13 so he's perfectly playable in Cash and GPP formats.
Alex Bowman ($10,000) – Bowman finished 25th at COTA earlier in the year, but some context needs to be given. He was battling for the lead late in the race but got into it with Kyle Busch (and I think JHN as well). He was still top five during the final lap but I think he had a tire go down or made contact since the rest of the field was wrecking on that final lap too. Either way, he was in contention for the win but just had some bad luck on the final lap. He has Sonoma experience in the Cup Series which is incredibly valuable, and he was fast in practice so I’m sure I’ll land on some exposure.
Ben Rhodes ($9,800) - Rhodes is starting P17 and offers nice PD. He grabbed a top five earlier this year at COTA and he did won on Daytona's Road Course back in 2021. He showed top 12 speed in practice yesterday and should easily move up through the field. Chandler Smith is a good pivot of Rhodes and likely comes in with less rosterships than Rhodes and Eckes but still offers PD and carries some win equity.
Christian Eckes ($9,300) – Eckes has been on too good of a run to not mention him anymore. He has four straight top five finishes including a runner-up last weekend at Gateway. He finished sixth at COTA earlier this year and he had the eighth-fastest green flag speed during that race and he logged the fastest lap in yesterday’s practice. You don’t necessarily need him to win (although there is some win equity here) but another top five at this price tag puts him in play. Update: Starting P18. Very good play today.
Parker Kligerman ($9,100) – It’s not a great price tag for Kligerman but he’s usually a fine play for DFS. He was one of the drivers that lost a lot of track position on the final laps at COTA, but the speed was there as the sixth-fastest car on green flag runs. He boasted top five speed in yesterday’s practice. He probably qualifies pretty well so he’s likely just a GPP play today unless something goes wrong during qualifying. We know he can get a top five as we saw at Daytona and Bristol Dirt while he was sixth at Darlington. Update: See Majeski write-up.
Ty Majeski ($8,900) – Basically everything I just wrote up about Kligerman applies to Majeski. He was also flashing great speed at COTA but finished 30th. But he was 11th-fastest yesterday in practice so the speed is there. He burned me last week and cost me some money, but I won’t dwell on it. The speed should be there and we know there is top five upside with Majeski. Very similar play to Kligerman so let’s see which one offers more PD. Update: Majeski qualified P4 while Kligerman qualified P11. Kligerman is the “safer” play but both are starting pretty high. I'll mix in both drivers with more exposure on PK.
Stewart Friesen ($8,700) – It seems a little crazy, but Friesen hasn’t finished worse than 16th all year and that came at Daytona. He grabbed a top ten at COTA while having the second-fastest green flag speed and a 109.2 driver rating which was third-best in the field. He didn’t showcase great speed in practice yesterday, but it could’ve been the case that he just wanted to log laps and get a feel for the track.
Grant Enfinger ($8,300) – I’ll go back to the well with Enfinger this week. He grabbed a top ten at COTA when he was $1,000 more, and he finished fourth at COTA in 2021 although that race had a touch of rain in it. Prior to last week he finished 11th or better in seven straight races including three finishes in the top three. I also like him because as I’ve noted in previous weeks, he’s not a guy that collects a ton of dominator points. So when those aren’t readily available on a road course that does tend to boost his value a bit because his team will strategize for track position in stage three. Update: Starting P8 so I prefer to just use him in GPP's. Still really like him at this price tag knowing he has top five upside.
Tyler Ankrum ($7,800) – It’s a little crazy to me that Ankrum is more expensive than Austin Dillon. That just goes to show how awful Dillon’s equipment is this week. Ankrum has been making the most of this ride and he finished seventh earlier in the year at COTA while he was also top ten in green flag speed for that race. That speed has carried over as he was top 15 in yesterday’s practice. I hope he qualifies just inside the top 20 to keep ownership off him a little bit, but on paper he looks like a decent play. I think we should also consider Chase Purdy ($6,900) if he has a friendly qualifying spot. Like his teammate, Purdy has been performing much better of late. Update: Ankrum is starting a little too high at P5. You have to assume he goes backward and likely finishes outside the top ten. A good pivot off Ankrum might be Harrison Burton for just $100 more. Burton is riding for DGR this weekend and will be starting P23.
Matt Crafton ($7,700) – I don’t love Crafton a ton this week, but the price tag is nice enough where I’ll probably throw him in some builds. I had the revelation last week that Crafton is kind of becoming Michael Annett right now. Capable of getting a top ten but he only has one top five this year. He’s more of a floor/cash game play than a GPP target, but he’s priced very well this week. He finished 13th at COTA earlier this year and you have to like the overall veteran experience at this price tag. Update: Very good play here considering he's starting outside the top 20. Cash and GPP eligible.
Matt DiBenedetto ($7,400) – Sure, there are concerns about the equipment, but he’s been coming on strong lately and he finished sixth last week at Gateway. He’s finished 11th or better in four of his last five races so if he can offer a little bit of PD today then I really like the play. I think most people will look at his result at COTA and possibly avoid him. However, he had an average running position inside the top 20 but also recorded two fastest laps (out of 42) and he was top five in green flag speed. If he shows up with similar speed (and based on yesterday’s practice results, it looks like he did) then Matty D shapes up to be a great play that could very well be optimal. Update: Starting P12 so I still think he's fine for GPP's as long as he finishes well. I'll probably be underweight compared to where I was initially though.
Derek Kraus ($7,200) – Here’s another guy who is likely too cheap. Kraus has finished in the top 12 in three of his last four races and looked poised to grab a win last week until he faded late and finished seventh. Overall, it was a very impressive run after he had to start P36. He finished 12th at COTA earlier in the year and similar to Matty D he was up there in green flag speed (seventh-fastest overall). He was tenth in speed in yesterday’s practice so I think we can jump on board. He likely qualifies in the top 20 but can still push his ride to a top ten.
Tanner Gray ($7,000) - Perfectly fine with Gray since he's starting P27. He's had some bad luck here recently. Easily in play for Cash games and GPP's. Personally I might go underweight and hope he busts. On paper, he's a good play though. For the same reasons you can also consider Chase Purdy who is cheaper and starting in front of Gray.
Todd Bodine ($6,700) – I haven’t played much of Bodine when he has raced this year and that’s on me. Personally, I want some win equity in my lineups and while Bodine isn’t a huge favorite, he did finish 10th and Darlington and 13th at Texas. But $6,700 is a bit too cheap when we previously saw him priced about $1,000 more. We don’t really have a ton of data to pull for Bodine relating to road courses, but he’s a seasoned driver that just needs a clean race and he should be a fine play in all formats. Update: Starting P31 and is probably safe to move up and finish in the top 20. Shouldn't have too much trouble returning value.
Colby Howard ($6,600) – This will come down to where he starts but he’s been running MUCH better than where he was at to start the year. He has five top 20 finishes in his last seven races including four finishes in the top 15. The speed wasn’t great in practice, but this is arguably the same equipment as Derek Kraus who we just discussed so I’ll consider Howard based on his recent form. If he starts outside the top 20 I might be heavy on him at this price tag. Update: And he's starting P22. I have softened my stance a bit and may just try to match the field in terms of exposure.
Value Options/Punts – This is basically going to come down to where everyone is starting so be on the lookout for updates after qualifying. The Niece Motorsports drivers are likely the ones I’ll look at in this area because I have faith in their equipment. But outside of Carson Hocevar (if his foot wasn’t broken) and Ross Chastain, we don’t have as much confidence in the actual drivers. I do like what I’ve seen from Lawless Alan ($5,700) lately. He’s shown the ability to finish in the top 20 on somewhat of a consistent basis. He also finished 11th at COTA earlier in the year but he benefitted from a lot of the field wrecking in order to move up on the final lap. Alan did have top 20 speed in practice yesterday. You can consider Dean Thompson and Kris Wright but they have quite a bit of variance. Timmy Hill ($6,100) will likely be a solid but chalky play as well. He was top 20 in practice speed. Hill has only finished outside the top 25 once this year and if he offers PD and can finish inside the top 20 then he should return over 30 points on DraftKings. Again, once we know the starting order we’ll dissect more value plays. Update: Jack Wood will be popular in this range starting P28. I'll play some shares but we know he can bust. Do you think he can avoid trouble two weeks in a row? I still like Timmy Hill and Lawless Alan but they are starting quite high. If you're looking for cheap options you can consider Brad “Bread” Perez. Deann Thompson and Kris Wright are okay but do tread caution is mentioned in the Playbook before qualifying. Spencer Boyd won't get you negative points, but the only risk you're taking is with the equipment.
Example Lineups will be posted in the NASCAR DFS Discord channel no later than 6:30pm ET.
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