Fantasy Update: Will Sonoma be Larson vs. Elliott 2.0?

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·3 min read
Fantasy Update: Will Sonoma be Larson vs. Elliott 2.0?
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After not leading a single lap at Circuit of The Americas, Hendrick Motorsports looks to be the team to beat entering Sunday‘s race at Sonoma Raceway (4 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM). Specifically, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott were speedy during practice and qualifying, ultimately sweeping the front row. However, there were a few surprises along the way.

Dustin Albino‘s race-day lineup:
Starter 1: Kyle Larson
Starter 2: Chase Elliott
Starter 3: Daniel Suárez
Starter 4: Martin Truex Jr.
Starter 5: Tyler Reddick
Garage pick: AJ Allmendinger

NEXT IN LINE: Michael McDowell, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher.

RELATED: Starting lineup | Full Sonoma schedule

RISING: Believe it or not, I didn‘t have Kyle Larson in my original fantasy lineup for Sonoma. But the No. 5 team has won three of the last six road-course races, including Sonoma last year in dominant fashion (led 57 of 92 laps). Larson was quickest in practice on Saturday and followed that up by edging out teammate Elliott for the pole.

Michael McDowell is known for his road racing expertise. He‘s brought that out in full force so far this weekend. McDowell will take the green flag from fourth position — his best career qualifying run (has four top-three starts all under the qualifying metric system in 2020 and 2021). The No. 34 team has been hot of late, earning top 10s in four of the past seven races, while McDowell led 34 laps at Gateway last weekend, the most he‘s led in a single race of his 408 Cup starts.

FALLING: While Martin Truex Jr. is still on my team — simply because he‘s elite at Sonoma, winning two of the past three races — the No. 19 team had a disappointing Saturday. Truex was 16th in practice and qualified 28th. Cole Pearn is going to have to work his magic to get Truex competitive on Sunday.

The same could be said for Truex‘s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell. After running the 31st-quickest qualifying time, the No. 20 team brought its machine to the garage to change the steering components. Bell will start from the rear.

FEATURED MATCHUPS

Kyle Busch vs. Joey Logano:
Both are underrated road course racers, but Busch gets the slight advantage with two wins at Sonoma. The No. 18 car was also running in the top five on the final lap at COTA in March before spinning out twice.

Logano vs. Busch: Who wins at Sonoma? - Powered By PickUp

Ross Chastain vs. Denny Hamlin:
What a coincidence. Between Chastain and Daniel Suárez, Trackhouse Racing had the field covered at COTA. Unfortunately for Suárez, a spin and power steering issue derailed his chances of the win. That same speed has shown up this weekend, so the No. 1 car gets my vote. But … Hamlin could repay the favor from Gateway last week.

Hamlin vs. Chastain: Who wins at Sonoma? - Powered By PickUp

AJ Allmendinger vs. Austin Cindric
Surprisingly, Cindric was just 24th in practice and qualified 25th. Based on experience alone — Allmendinger has 10 starts at Sonoma; Cindric has none — the No. 16 car should get the nod. And while Allmendinger wasn‘t lightning quick leading up to the race, he‘s off to a better start than last week when he wrecked before the green flag at Portland in the Xfinity Series race and still won.

Dinger vs. Cindric: Who wins at Sonoma? - Powered By PickUp

Christopher Bell vs. Chase Briscoe
The No. 20 team enters the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the garage, earning five straight top 10s. However, though Bell caught his steering issue on Saturday, Briscoe will have much better track position to start the race. Going with the No. 14 car to outrun Bell.

Briscoe vs. Bell: Who wins at Sonoma? - Powered By PickUp