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Statistically Speaking

Toyota 350 Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Toyota / Save Mart 350
Traditional Name: None
Other Notable Names: Dodge / SaveMart 350, Save Mart / Kragen 350, Save Mart Supermarkets 300, Banquet Frozen Foods 300

Fans of road course racing have only two opportunities to watch Cup cars contend on the twisty tracks.

XFINITY, Camping World Truck, and K&N Pro Series races are entertaining, but watching the top division is a perfect balance of sublime and sometimes ridiculousness. In the Toyota / Save Mart 350, fans will see the mastery of drivers like Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, and Clint Bowyer juxtaposed with the desperation of any driver in the top 10 lacking a victory so far in 2016.

Meanwhile, vigilante justice roams free with drivers like Tony Stewart retaliating for every perceived block on the track. In NASCAR, even road racing is a full-contact sport.  

10 best drivers at Sonoma

Over the past three races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Clint Bowyer (tied with Busch)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 6.00
Career avg. finish: 8.6 in 10 attempts

Bowyer would be easy to disregard this week. He is racing for a team that has not exactly burned up the track and he has had difficulty developing chemistry in his one-off year. But Sonoma is his best track in terms of career average finishes and that makes a huge difference. He is not guaranteed a top-10, but we are going to be surprised if he does not get one.

1. Kurt Busch (tied with Bowyer)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 6.00
Career avg. finish: 14.8 in 15 attempts

In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch narrowly missed the top 10 at Sonoma, but he still is tied with the best three-year average finish. He has a second-place finish last year and a fourth in 2013 to thank for his elevation to the top of the ranking. Extend the parameters and he has earned four top-fives in the last five races with four different owners and that underscores his innate skill.

3. Kasey Kahne
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 6.67
Career avg. finish: 18.2 in 12 attempts

Kahne has not yet scored a top-10 for Hendrick Motorsports, but he’s come close in the past three years with two results of sixth and an eighth. Since joining this organization, his worst result was a 14th, however, and consistency is more important than raw power sometimes. With Richard Petty Motorsports, he actually had that raw power as well with a victory in 2009 and a pole in 2010.

4. Jimmie Johnson (tied with Earnhardt)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 7.33
Career avg. finish: 12.4 in 14 attempts

One would like to trust Johnson’s strength this week, but he has made so many mistakes in the first part of 2016 that he is a difficult pick. He has been solid at Sonoma in recent seasons with seven straight top-10s, but he is showing a few signs of weakness without a top-five in the past three years. Our prediction is that his consecutive Sonoma top-10 streak ends this weekend.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (tied with Johnson)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 7.33
Career avg. finish: 19.4 in 16 attempts

It is highly notable that Junior is tied for fourth on the three-year average finish chart with his teammate Johnson and that they are one spot behind Kahne. The organization has a solid set of notes from which to work, so they are a big part of the reason Earnhardt has improved in the past three years with consecutive top-15s. He has not qualified well with this organization, but after posting fast speeds in practice, that could change in 2016.

6. Joey Logano (tied with Menard)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 10.67
Career avg. finish: 14.3 in 7 attempts

Logano admitted to being a less than perfect road course racer, so he took an opportunity in 2011 to run the Grand National West support race at Sonoma. His victory in that event gave him the confidence to score his first road course top-10 the following day and he has been more than solid since. Crash damage contributed to his only result outside the top 15 since winning the K&N race, but even then he finished respectably in 16th.

6. Paul Menard (tied with Logano)
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 10.67
Career avg. finish: 23.9 in 10 attempts

Fantasy owners have been waiting for “this” Menard on road courses. He cut his teeth in the Trans Am series, but it was not until he joined Richard Childress Racing that he began to excel on twisty tracks in Cup. He was 17th in their first outing in 2011 and has not failed to crack the top 20 since. His last three efforts were top-15s, which makes him a good value in his salary cap range.

8. Kevin Harvick
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 11.33
Career avg. finish: 15.1 in 15 attempts

Harvick is solidly among the top 10 this week on the strength of a fourth-place finish in last year’s Toyota / Save Mart 350. What he is lacking is the consistency to make him a guaranteed starter in his cap range because his last four Sonoma attempts have been all over the board with one top-five, another top-10, a 16th, and a 20th.

9. Ryan Newman
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 11.67
Career avg. finish: 12.6 in 14 attempts

Finesse and Newman are not usually associated—but consistency is an overwhelming trait of this bulldog. In 14 Sonoma starts, he has finished on the lead lap in every event. His last three attempts ended in top-15s and he has a smattering of top-10s on this course to make him incredibly desirable.

10. Jamie McMurray
Last three races average finish at Sonoma: 13.33
Career avg. finish: 16.2 in 13 attempts

McMurray lands in the top 10 despite having a 25th-place finish dragging his three-year average down. If he finishes better than that, he will certainly rise up the grid and then will not fly under fantasy owners’ radar screens. Not that he has done a very good job of that, actually. He won his second and third career Sonoma poles in 2013/2014 and seems to have a lot of single lap speed again this week. 

Rank

Driver

Avg. Finish

Attempts

1.

Clint Bowyer

6.00

3

1.

Kurt Busch

6.00

3

3.

Kasey Kahne

6.67

3

4.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7.33

3

4.

Jimmie Johnson

7.33

3

6.

Joey Logano

10.67

3

6.

Paul Menard

10.67

3

8.

Kevin Harvick

11.33

3

9.

Ryan Newman

11.67

3

10.

Jamie McMurray

13.33

3

 

11.

Carl Edwards

14.67

3

11.

Greg Biffle

14.67

3

13.

Austin Dillon

17.00

2

14.

Aric Almirola

19.00

3

15.

Martin Truex Jr.

19.33

3

16.

Tony Stewart

19.67

3

17.

Kyle Busch

20.33

3

18.

Brad Keselowski

20.67

3

19.

Kyle Larson

21.50

2

20.

Denny Hamlin

22.33

3

20.

Casey Mears

22.33

3

22.

Danica Patrick

23.67

3

23.

Cole Whitt

24.50

2

24.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

26.00

3

25.

Matt Kenseth

27.33

3

26.

Michael McDowell

29.00

2

27.

Michael Annett

31.50

2

28.

Josh Wise

33.33

3

29.

David Ragan

36.00

3

30.

AJ Allmendinger

37.00

2

31.

Landon Cassill

39.50

2

Drivers with Only One Start

 

Trevor Bayne

23.00

1

 

Matt DiBenedetto

29.00

1

 

Reed Sorenson

32.00

1

 

Jeb Burton

32.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 9, 1990 Banquet Frozen Foods 300
Fewest caution flags: 2, 2012 Toyota / Save Mart 350
Average number of caution flags per race: 5.4
In 2016: 7.6

Final Caution, last five races:
June 2015: lap 100 of 110: debris from Casey Mears in turn 11
June 2014: lap 92 of 110: 2-car accident on frontstretch (Brian Vickers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)
June 2013: lap 83 of 110: 1-car accident in turn 8 (Kyle Busch)
June 2012: lap 108 of 112 (green-white-checkered) 1-car accident in turn 7 (Ryan Newman)
June 2011: lap 88 of 110: 2-car accident in turn 11 (Tony Stewart. Brian Vickers)

Most caution laps: 26, 1999 Save Mart / Kragen 350
Fewest caution laps: 7 (2 times), 2012 Toyota / Save Mart 350, 1992 Save Mart 300
Average number of caution laps per race: 15.1
In 2016: 40.5

Leading the way

Most leaders: 10, 1998 Save Mart / Kragen 350
Fewest leaders: 3, 1989 Banquet Frozen Foods 300
Average number of leaders: 6.6
In 2016: 8.8

Most lead changes: 12 (2x), 2011 Toyota / Save Mart 350, 2010 Toyota / SaveMart 350
Fewest lead changes: 3, 1989 Banquet Frozen Foods 300k
Average number of lead changes: 8.4
In 2016: 18.8

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Sonoma (starting position):
June 2015: Kyle Busch (11)
June 2014: Carl Edwards (4)
June 2013: Martin Truex Jr. (14)
June 2012: Clint Bowyer (6)
June 2011: Kurt Busch (11)

Worst starting position for race winner: Juan Pablo Montoya, 32nd Toyota / SaveMart 350

A race at Sonoma has been won by the pole sitter 5 times and from the front row 8 times in 26 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
2004 Dodge / Save Mart 350, Jeff Gordon
1999 Save Mart / Kragen 350, Jeff Gordon
1998 Save Mart / Kragen 350, Jeff Gordon
1997 Save Mart 300, Mark Martin

Active winners at Sonoma:
Tony Stewart: 2
Kyle Busch: 2
Clint Bowyer: 1
Kurt Busch: 1
Carl Edwards: 1
Jimmie Johnson: 1
Kasey Kahne: 1
Martin Truex Jr.: 1

Top-10 All-time Winners:
Jeff Gordon: 5
Ernie Irvan: 2
Ricky Rudd: 2
Tony Stewart: 2
Rusty Wallace: 2
Kyle Busch: 2
Davey Allison, Geoff Bodine, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Carl Edwards, Robby Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Martin Truex Jr. 1

Top 10 on all road courses all time:
Jeff Gordon: 9
Tony Stewart: 7
Richard Petty: 6
Bobby Allison: 6
Ricky Rudd: 6
Rusty Wallace: 6
Darrell Waltrip: 5
Dan Gurney: 5
Tim Richmond: 5
David Pearson: 4
Mark Martin: 4
Kyle Busch: 4

First time winners at Sonoma:
2007: Juan Pablo Montoya, Toyota / SaveMart 350

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Sonoma race they started:
Kurt Busch (15)
Kevin Harvick (15)
Ryan Newman (14)
Jamie McMurray (13)
Kasey Kahne (12)
Kyle Busch (11)
Clint Bowyer (10)
Paul Menard (8)
AJ Allmendinger (7)
Joey Logano (7)
Aric Almirola (5)
Michael McDowell (4)
Regan Smith (4)
Josh Wise (4)
Danica Patrick (3)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3)
Michael Annett (2)
Austin Dillon (2)
Kyle Larson (2)
Cole Whitt (2)
Trevor Bayne (1)
Matt DiBenedetto (1)

Greg Biffle broke a fuel pump in his first start in 2003, but has been running at the end of the last 12.
Jimmie Johnson broke a rear end in his inaugural attempt in 2002, but has been running at the end of the last 13.
Brad Keselowski crashed and failed to finish in 2010, but he has been running at the last five races.
Carl Edwards had been running at the end of 10 consecutive races until he crashed on lap 78 last year.
Casey Mears had been running at the end of 11 consecutive races until he broke a rear end on lap 97 last year.
David Ragan had been running at the end of eight consecutive until he crashed on lap 78 last year.

Jeff Gordon ended his career with 22 consecutive races running at the end—his entire career.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Ryan Newman: 9 (2002)

No one has earned a pole in their first start, but Tony Stewart started on the outside pole in his first start in 1999.

Current Streaks

At Sonoma
Jimmie Johnson, seven top-10s
Clint Bowyer, five top-10s
Kasey Kahne, three top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., two top-10s

Road Courses (Sonoma and Watkins Glen)
Kurt Busch, three top-fives
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Joey Logano, three top-10s
Kyle Busch, two top-twos
Jimmie Johnson, two top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s

In 2016
Kurt Busch, nine top-10s
Brad Keselowski, six top-10s
Chase Elliott, six top-10s
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Joey Logano, three top-10s
Carl Edwards, two top-10s

Matt Kenseth slipped to 14th last week at Michigan to snap a current streak of four consecutive top-fives

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.