Tha Sports Junkies 101

Toyota-Save Mart 350 At Sonoma Raceway Preview


This weekend, NASCAR’s finest head to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. This is the 16th race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. In last year’s race, Kyle Busch began what was his rally into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, beating out brother Kurt Busch in the process.

Kyle Busch One Year Later: When Kyle Busch won this exact race one year ago, it provided the spark that would not only begin a string of four wins in five races, but a path to a championship against all odds. Kyle Busch this year doesn’t need to win out to make the Chase, as he’s already locked in. But, a repeat win this weekend could turn around some recent bad luck for the 18 team.

Parity On The Road To A Championship: Sonoma Raceway has seen 10 different drivers visit Victory Lane the last 11 years it’s been held: Kyle Busch (2015), Carl Edwards (2014), Martin Truex Jr. (2013), Clint Bowyer (2012), Kurt Busch (2011), Jimmie Johnson (2010), Kasey Kahne (2009), Kyle Busch (2008), Juan Pablo Montoya (2007), Jeff Gordon (2006) and Tony Stewart (2005). Will the trend continue this weekend, or will a repeat winner emerge?

How Will First Timers Fair?: Two drivers will attempt to make their first time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend. Former NASCAR NEXT member Dylan Lupton (BK Racing 93) and Cody Ware (Premium Motorsports 55) are giving the road course at Sonoma Raceway a go. Lupton needs to make the race on speed as BK Racing’s 93 team does not have enough owners points to make the show on merit. Cody Ware is the son of XFINITY Series owner Rick Ware and will look to make his sixth start of the season across NASCAR’s top three national series this season.

Long, Lackluster Sonoma Drought: Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Sonoma Raceway without visiting Victory Lane at 16 each. Bad luck and crashes have marred both of the driver’s past efforts at this road course. While Kenseth is locked into the Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will need to reverse his bad luck this weekend to make himself eligible.

Almendinger Looks To Seal The Deal: The last 2 running’s haven’t been too kind to AJ Almendinger, despite success otherwise found throughout the weekend. In 2014, AJ Allmendinger led the most laps of 35 and appeared to have a sure victory in his hand. He was driving the No. 47 car which nearly won the 2010 race with Marcus Ambrose behind the wheel. However he got tapped from behind by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing stages which put him out of chances of a win. Last year, AJ won the pole with a blistering new track record, but only finished a dismal 37th with a fuel pickup issue plaguing the team.

Below is some NASCAR Fantasy advice for the Toyota-Save Mart 350 and the drivers to consider and to avoid:

Drivers To Consider: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, and Jamie McMurray

Drivers To Avoid:  Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr.

Potential Sleepers: Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, Patrick Carpentier, and Ryan Newman

The Toyota-Save Mart 350 At Sonoma Raceway starts Sunday at 3pm on FS1