1. Kurt Busch: Busch led 21 laps at Michigan before crashing for a 35th-place finish. In 12 starts at Infineon Raceway, Busch has one win (2011), five Top 5s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.0. He’s led at least one lap in three of his last four starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Busch leads all competitors in Driver Rating (107.8), Average Running Position (9.2) and Laps Led (108) at Sonoma. His third-place finish a year ago in an unsponsored car was easily the top highlight from a miserable 2012. He’s been close to a win a few times in the last month, but this is the week he’s finally going to get it. He’s a must-start across all formats.
2. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose finished 23rd a MIS a week ago. In five starts at Sonoma, Ambrose has two Top 5s, four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 12.8. He’s led at least 11 laps in two of his last three starts. Ambrose ranks third in DR (106.8) and in ARP (10.9). The bad news is he has just two Top 10s and has led one lap overall in 2013. The good news is none of that means anything this weekend. Ambrose is a road-course specialist and despite not having a win at the site, he’s arguably the safest driver Fantasy owners can roll with this week.
3. Tony Stewart: Smoke tallied his third-consecutive Top 5 finish (fifth at MIS) last weekend. In 14 IR starts, Stewart has two wins (2001, 2005), five Top 5s, nine Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 10.9. He’s led at least one lap in seven of his last nine starts. Stewart ranks second in DR (107.5) and in ARP (10.0). He leads all drivers in Laps in the Top 15 (706), Fastest Laps Run (79), Average Green Flag Speed (89.877 mph) and Quality Passes (252). He’s one of the hottest drivers on the circuit and is arguably the most versatile. Stewart needs to be in all Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
4. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished seventh at Michigan, giving him three Top 10s in his last four Cup starts. In seven Sonoma starts, Bowyer has one win (2012), four Top 5s and five Top 10s with an Average Finish of 9.7. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last three starts, including 71 laps in his win last season. Bowyer ranks seventh in DR (93.3) and eighth in ARP (14.6) at Sonoma. While he’s been unspectacular this season, he sits third in the Cup standings and has been wildly consistent. This is one of his better tracks and he should be in all provisional Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
5. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson led 18 laps at MIS and had a dominant car only to run into some bad luck causing him to finish 28th. In 11 starts at Infineon, Johnson has one win (2010), four Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.8. He led 55 laps in his 2010 victory. Johnson ranks sixth in DR (96.6) and in ARP (12.7). He has an Average Finish of 4.3 in his last four Sonoma starts and should be started across all formats except for Tiered/Grouping, unless of course you have not used him too much yet.
6. Kyle Busch: Busch finished fourth at Michigan, giving him two Top 5s in his last three Cup starts. In eight Infineon starts, Busch has one win (2008) and two Top 10s with an Average Finish of 18.6. He’s led at least ten laps in two of his last five starts. Busch ranks eighth in DR (92.8) and 19th in ARP (18.1) at Sonoma. He’s been extremely streaky all season long, but is in the middle of a hot streak right now. He should be included in Tiered/Grouping format provisional lineups and has a lot of upside.
7. Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya is coming off a 20th-place performance at MIS. In six starts at Sonoma, Montoya has one win (2007) and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.2. He led two laps in the 2011 event. Montoya ranks fifth in DR (97.8) and fourth in ARP (11.8) at the site. He’s actually running quite well lately, coming up three laps short of a win at Dover and consistently posting ARPs of 15.0 or better. He’s known for his road-course prowess and will provide a nice value in Salary Cap formats.
8. Joey Logano: Logano is on one of the best runs of his career, posting four straight Top 10s (ninth at MIS) with an Average Finish of 7.8. In four Sonoma starts, Logano has two Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.0. He led five laps in the 2011 race. Logano ranks 19th in DR (78.2) and 12th in ARP (17.0). He has a solid history at Sonoma and will provide an incredible value for Fantasy owners in just about every format.
9. Kevin Harvick: Harvick posted his third Top 5 in his last seven Cup starts by finishing second at Michigan. In 12 IR starts, Harvick has three Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1. He led five laps in the 2011 event. Harvick ranks 13th in DR (82.2) and ninth in ARP (15.4). To think I referred to him as the King of Mediocrity a couple of months ago. Harvick is in championship form and not getting the credit he deserves. He’s another top value play throughout all formats.
10. Kasey Kahne: Kahne’s nightmare month of June continued at Michigan with a 38th place DNF. In nine starts at IR, Kahne has one win (2009), two Top 5s and two poles with an Average Finish of 22.0. He’s led at least four laps in two of his last five starts. Kahne ranks 14th in DR (81.1) and 11th in ARP (16.9) at Sonoma. His recent struggles will have the No. 5 off of a lot Fantasy radars, but his value and upside make him a sneaky high-risk-high-reward play in Tiered/Grouping formats.
11. Martin Truex Jr.: One Top 10 with an Average Finish of 21.7 in seven Infineon starts. 78.3 DR.
12. Aric Almirola: Average Finish of 28.0 in two starts at Sonoma. 47.9 DR.
13. Brad Keselowski: One Top 10 with an Average Finish of 19.0 in three IR starts. 75.6 DR.
14. Greg Biffle: Two Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.9 in 10 starts at Infineon. 79.3 DR.
15. Jeff Gordon: Five wins (1998-2000, 2004, 2006), 12 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s and five poles with an Average Finish of 8.6 in 20 Sonoma starts. 101.4 DR.
16. Ryan Newman: 89.9 DR.
17. Carl Edwards: 84.9.
18. Brian Vickers: 72.7.
19. Denny Hamlin: 81.1.
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: DR N/A.
21. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
22. Paul Menard
23. Matt Kenseth
24. Jamie McMurray
25. Jeff Burton
Jacques Villeneuve: Will helm the No. 51 ride. In two road-course Nationwide appearances in 2012, he finished third (Montreal) and sixth (Road America).
Ron Fellows: The No. 33 squad finished 11th last week at Michigan. Posted three Top 5s in three 2012 Nationwide road-course events, finishing fifth (Montreal, Watkins Glen) and third (Road America).
2013 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Infineon (Salary Cap)
Jimmie Johnson $27.75
Kurt Busch $19.75
Juan Pablo Montoya $19.25
Marcos Ambrose $18.75
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $13.25