With his incredible career numbers at road courses, Marcos Ambrose was an easy pick for the top spot in the driver rankings to open the week. After flexing his muscles in practice and qualifying second, he easily hangs on to the No. 1 ranking heading into Sunday's Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma. Keep in mind that he has finished in the top 10 in his last nine road course starts, winning twice and posting a 3.6 average finish during the stretch. In fact, Ambrose has scored more points at road courses than any other driver since he joined the Cup Series in 2008, so it's tough to find a reason to keep him off fantasy rosters this weekend.
Sliding into the No. 2 spot in the final driver rankings is defending race winner Clint Bowyer. He actually paced the field in Happy Hour Friday, and he followed it up with a top-five effort in qualifying. Meanwhile, his win a year ago was just the latest in a string of strong showings at Sonoma. In his last six starts at the road course, Bowyer has logged five top-10 finishes, including four finishes of fourth or better. Back-to-back wins at Sonoma doesn't seem that farfetched - all things considered - and fantasy owners should feel very comfortable adding him to their lineups this weekend.
Fantasy owners should also have plenty of confidence in Juan Pablo Montoya this weekend. The former Sonoma winner moves into the top five in the final rankings on the strength of two strong practice sessions and a top-15 effort in qualifying. Overall, Montoya has four top-10s in six career starts at Sonoma, and both of his Cup Series wins have come at road courses, and in dominant fashion at that. Sure, he is generally an unreliable option at ovals, but Montoya can be a major asset to fantasy lineups at Sonoma.
He doesn't boast the road-racing resume of some of the other drivers in the series, but Greg Biffle still grabs a spot in the top 10 of the final rankings this weekend and deserves heavy consideration from fantasy owners. For one, he ranked sixth in both practices Friday and qualified fourth Saturday. In addition, he has cracked the top 15 in seven of his last nine starts at Sonoma and has finished seventh or better four times in his last seven starts at the track. Biffle has quietly turned himself into a consistent road racer, and he should make a solid addition to fantasy lineups.
One of the biggest movers in the final rankings is Jamie McMurray. Despite just one top-10 finish in 10 starts at Sonoma, he jumps into the top 15 thanks to excellent practice times and a pole-winning run in qualifying. Plus, he hasn't been awful at Sonoma, and he has cracked the top 15 three times in his last four starts. The way he has been running this weekend suggests he is capable of even better results, and fantasy owners willing to go out on a limb a bit could gain some ground on competitors that will undoubtedly shy away from McMurray because of his average career numbers.
Meanwhile, Casey Mears is looking like the sleeper option of choice in deeper leagues. He vaults into the top 25 of the final rankings after cracking the top 12 in both practice sessions Friday and qualifying 21st Saturday. Not to mention the fact that he did notch a top-15 finish at Sonoma last year, so it's not like a solid run would be completely unheard of.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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