What: Toyota Save Mart 350
When: June 25th
Where: Sonoma Raceway
2016 Winner: Tony Stewart
Last week at the FireKeepers Casino I predicted Chase Elliot to win. Well he came in 2nd and my other pick (Kyle Larson) won it all, while those are not head scratchingly difficult picks, it capped my 4th correctly picked winner of the year. With 11 picks left until playoffs, I'm hoping to get at least 3 more winners over that time.
Track: Sonoma Raceway. This 1.99 mile asphalt "amoeba" shaped asphalt course features 10 turns and has been modified over the years to accommodate the NASCAR race here (including bypassing a turn and adding pit stops along turn 11 (Gilligan's Island) to accommodate the drivers. It is vastly different from many of the more conventional track shapes and due to that you get to see just how good the concentration can be amongst the drivers.
Kyle Busch. For starters, he has five top 10 finishes in his last six races. Beyond that, he finished 7th at Sonoma Raceway last year and won here in 2015. He won the pole at Dover and Pocono and he was 4th last week. His car by itself is among the best in the circuit right now.
Kasey Kahne. This will definitely not go down as one of Kasey's best seasons, his last top ten finish was 6 races ago at Talladega, since then he's had two 35th places (DNF) and he finished 21st last week. Sonoma will serve as a silver platter to turn his luck around. He finished 9th here last year and 8th in 2015. Maybe he can lock in another top ten finish if he can avoid the accidents.
Ryan Newman. 4 consecutive top 15 finishes bring Ryan into Sonoma where he swapped with Kasey over the last two years, finishing 8th in 2016 and 9th in 2015. He is atop Richard Childress Racing group sitting at 17th in the Monster Cup Energy Series, 3 spots ahead of Austin Dillon and 7 spots ahead of Paul Menard.
Daniel Suarez. With 11 races to go I have to keep pacing Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez. I have 8 starts left with Daniel and 3 left for Erik. I think Erik might be the playoff play so I'm going with Daniel for this race. He finished 24th last week but he did have some shared metal with Harvick, Blaney and Patrick. I think he can bounce back for a top 15 finish.
Boris Said. The 55 year old partook in one race last year, this one and he started 37th and finished 24th. I'm going to rub my lucky rabbits foot on a repeat performance. Over the last two years he has done a decent job at staying in the top 30, with this as his focal point in the season and a breeze of experience at his back I'll take a one week gamble on him.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 13th (36th percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 13th (38th percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 17th (47th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 19th (55th percentile)