The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to its first road course race of the year at Sonoma Raceway. The 1.99-mile road course is highly technical, and while it is one of two road course tracks that we have data for (the third road course is the new roval at Charlotte), the other road course (Watkins Glen) has faster sweeping corners. Beware of borrowing too much road-course history from Watkins Glen when making your driver evaluations for Sonoma this weekend.

My machine learning model finds that track history at Sonoma is far more valuable than overall road-course prowess. Additionally, my model finds that year-to-date performance and both short- and long-run practice speeds from final practice are statistically significant. As always, I use the RotoViz Driver Sim Scores I’ve developed to gauge race-winning upside.


One other note: Since 2011, there has been an incident rate of about 20% at Sonoma, so we should expect on average around 7-8 drivers to have major incidents. These incidents create plenty of cautions and also (along with stage cautions) create opportunities for strategy to come into play. As a result, I’ll be looking at some longer odds as well as a group bet.

As always, make sure you shop around for the best lines.

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kurt Busch