Saturday, September 18, 2021

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OPR Staff and Fan Fantasy Picks for NSCS and NNS at Sonoma Raceway and Road America

Get ready fans because things are about to get interesting this weekend. Everybody knows that their favourite driver can turn left….but can your favourite driver turn right, stay on course and be fast to win the race? That question will be answered for both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series this weekend.


NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America

After a fun filled race at Michigan International Speedway, the Nationwide Series is off on their own journey to a track that has produced some excitement in the past – Road America with a Saturday afternoon race.

Managing Editor: Ashley McCubbin
Pick #1: Chase Elliott – 
Elliott has been very strong so far this year and despite having to turn right this weekend, he should do well. The young driver knows his way around road courses following an ARCA road course win and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Pick #2: Alex Tagliani – While it may mark Tagliani’s first trip to Road America in a Nationwide Series car, he’s no stranger to this business. The talented Canadian has had success on road courses in the Canadian Tire Series and in the Nationwide Series’ trips to Walkin’s Glen and Montreal. There’s a reason that he’s been called in by Penske.
Pick #3: Sam Hornish Jr. – Hornish can win anywhere so what makes him special this weekend? Experience. 2 races at Road America with a pair of solid top fives so we’re good to go.

NASCAR Journalist Tayler Stiles
Tayler did not file her picks, so we will use her Dover picks – Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson which becomes Chase Elliott, Sam Hornish Jr. and Dylan Kwasniewski
Ashley’s Comments: 
Kwasniewski hasn’t had the rookie season that he would’ve hoped for so far with a couple wrecks mixed in that have hurt his progress. Perhaps a change in scenery is what he needs.

NASCAR Journalist Kreistina Blinova
Kreistina did not file her picks so we’ll use her Dover picks – Jeffrey Earnhardt, Landon Cassill and Elliott Sadler.
Ashley’s comments: 
Both Jeffrey and Landon have experience but yet the unfunding of their teams has them falling short. For that reason a solid top-20 run would do good for them both. Beyond that, anything is possible though on a road course as we’ve seen crazy things happen. Did we mention rain in the forecast? Oy! As for Sadler, he has a pair of top 10s in his three road course trips.

Photographer: Ronald Costigan
Picks: Kenny Habull, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.
Ron’s Reasoning: 
Experience will rule at the end of the day and these four fit that mold. Journalist Marshall Gabell
Picks: Alex Tagliani, Dylan Kwasniewski and Sam Hornish Jr. Journalist: Justin Tucker
Justin Tucker did not file his picks, so we’ll use his Michigan picks which were Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch which becomes Chase Elliott, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.

The Times Leader Journalist: Kyle Magda
Picks: Chase Elliott, Sam Hornish Jr. and Chris Buescher
Ashley’s Comments: 
Buescher has road course experience from his ARCA days and with his solid season to date, he should be able to have a solid top 10 finish on Saturday.

Fan #1: Terry Wagner
Picks: Elliott Sadler, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.

Fan #2: Christina Cordner
Picks: Brian Scott, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.
Ashley’s Comments: In his four Road America starts, Scott has only finished in the top 10 once. Though with a string of success going on and things positive in his personal life, perhaps it’ll translate to positive results.

Fan #3: Billy Stiles Jr.
Billy did not file his picks, so we will use his Dover picks, which were Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Regan Smith which becomes Chase Elliott, Regan Smith and Alex Tagliani. JRM did not enter a third car, so the third replacement is a result of substitution by default.
Ashley’s Comments: Regan Smith finished 32nd last year….but don’t worry, that was due to bad luck. That’s something that he is hoping to not have this year as it made for the start of a miserable summer in 2013.

Fan #4: Billy Zardo
Billy did not submit his picks so we will use the same as we have all year to date – Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott and Sam Hornish Jr.
Ashley’s comments: 
While Elliott won that famous CTMP event, it was Ty Dillon who dominated the race and was leading in the final laps. Could we see another Dillon-Elliott show? Oy!

Fan #5: Robert Hill
Picks: Ty Dillon, Kenny Habull, Sam Hornish Jr.

Fan #6: Joni Stiles
Joni did not file her picks, so we will use her Dover picks, which were Ty Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, which becomes Ty Dillon, Regan Smith and Chase Elliott as we replace a JRM car (Harvick) for a JRM car (Smith).

Fan #7: Tyler Sontag
Picks: Chase Elliott, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.

Fan #8: Jeni Harris
Picks: Chase Elliott, Alex Tagliani and Sam Hornish Jr.

Current Nationwide Series Standings:

  1. Marshall Gabell – 122
  2. Ashley McCubbin and Ronald Costigan – 120
  3. Billy Zardo – 118
  4. Tayler Stiles and Billy Stiles Jr. – 117
  5. Kyle Magda and Joni Stiles – 116
  6. Christina Cordner – 115
  7. Robert Hill – 111
  8. Tyler Sontag – 108
  9. Justin Tucker – 107
  10. Terry Wagner – 87
  11. Kreistina Blinova – 76
  12. Jeni Harris – 66 (10 minus lowest competitor as compensation due to no picks in week 1)


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway

After an interesting race filled with multiple strategies, the Sprint Cup Series is in for another interesting race on Sunday afternoon with a trip to wine country. The race at Sonoma Raceway always produces drama that leaves us hoping that too many drivers don’t start whining post-race.

Managing Editor: Ashley McCubbin
Pick #1 – Marcos Ambrose – 
Ambrose is a road course natural. His five top 10s in six Sonoma starts argue to say that’s the truth.
Pick #2: Jeff Gordon – Gordon has been solid fast this year and five career wins at Sonoma Raceway make him a promising pick. Did we mention that Hendrick Motorsports is searching for a fifth straight victory?
Pick #3: Jimmie Johnson – So if Gordon doesn’t drive his HMS ride to victory lane, then high predictions that Johnson will do so. After all he has improved at Sonoma Raceway and is a past-race winner there.

NASCAR Journalist Tayler Stiles
Tayler did not file her picks, so we will use her Dover picks – Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson
Ashley’s comments: Road courses haven’t played to Kenseth’s tone as he only has one top 10. However, if he can keep it in on the road and play the right strategy – you never know.

NASCAR Journalist Kreistina Blinova
Kreistina did not file her picks so we’re burrowing her Michigan choices –  Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ashley’s Comments: Earnhardt + Sonoma = yikes! No top 10s in 14 starts spells trouble. However, Steve LeTarte has been a magic man this year with some cool pit calls. A pit call of that nature and Earnhardt “behaving”, we have success….right? Maybe?

Photographer: Ronald Costigan
Picks: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson
Ronald’s reasoning: Hendrick Motorsports has been on a great streak of success lately and that should continue this weekend. Each of these drivers knows their way around the road as they each have won at least once there. Look for HMS to make it five in a row! Journalist: Marshall Gabell
Picks: Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer and A.J. Allmendinger
Ashley’s Comments: 
Bowyer has been solid at Sonoma with a win and six top-10s, while Allmendinger has road course experience in his background and did win a pair of NNS road course races last year. Journalist: Justin Tucker
Justin did not file his picks so we’ll use Michigan picks – Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ashley’s Comments: 
Keselowski has only one top 10 at Sonoma – but he can make his way around the road as he has done it before so he should be solid this weekend.

The Times Leader Journalist Kyle Magda
Picks: Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger
Ashley’s Comments: 
Busch has been successful at Sonoma in the past with a win – and who could forget the duel that he had with Marcos Ambrose at Walkin’s Glen?

Fan #1: Terry Wagner
Picks: Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Gordon

Fan #2: Christina Cordner
Picks: Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson

Fan #3: Billy Stiles Jr.
Billy did not file his picks so we will be using his Charlotte picks – Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ashley’s Comment: 
Harvick hasn’t had the best success at Sonoma – though does have  five top 10s. Perhaps he’ll survive this year with a sixth.

Fan #4: Billy Zardo
Picks: Kyle Busch, Boris Said  and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ashley’s Comments:
 Busch has a win – though only 2 top 10s in nine road course starts. However, the win came in the later half of his starts so perhaps he’s learning about rights. As for Boris Said, he’s been brought in as a specialist and while he may not be with a top organization, he may surprise this weekend as he has in the past. Look for Said to be in the top 10, even top-five part of the field.

Fan #5: Robert Hill
Picks: Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch

Fan #6: Joni Stiles
Joni did not file her picks so we will be using her Charlotte picks – Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
Ashley’s comments:
 Truex has had success at Sonoma in the past with a win while at MWR. Perhaps some success this weekend could help turn the tide for Furniture Row Racing.

Fan #7: Tyler Sontag
Picks: Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon

Fan #8: Jeni Harris
Picks: Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch
Ashley’s Comments: 
McMurray has only one top 10 in 11 Sonoma starts so it’ll be interesting to see how he does this weekend. As far as Stewart, we know that he gets strong as we get into the summer and Sonoma is no exception as he has a pair of wins there.

Current Sprint Cup Standings

  1. (Points Leader Post Pocono) Kreistina Blinova – 123+124=247
  2. Kyle Magda – 120+125=245
  3. Billy Stiles Jr. – 116+129=245
  4. Justin Tucker – 117+127=234
  5. Ronald Costigan – 109+124=233
  6. Marshall Gabell – 117+101=218
  7. Ashley McCubbin – 82+130=212
  8. Tayler Stiles – 95+117=212
  9. Robert Hill – 101+109=210
  10. Tyler Sontag – 105+81=186
  11. Terry Wagner – 85+89=174
  12. Billy Zardo – 80+88=168
  13. Christina Cordner – 79+87=166
  14. Joni Stiles – 79+79=158
  15. Jeni Harris – 63+67=130

Combined Standings

  1. (Points Leader Post Texas/Pocono) Kyle Magda – 205+59+116+125=505
  2. Billy Stiles Jr. – 187+69+117+129=502
  3. Ronald Costigan – 187+61+120+124=492
  4. Justin Tucker – 202+56+107+127=492
  5. (Points Leader Post Gateway) Kreistina Blinova – 205+69+76+124=474
  6. Marshall Gabell – 198+43+122+101=464
  7. Ashley McCubbin – 163+43+120+130=456
  8. Tayler Stiles – 176+43+117+117=453
  9. Robert Hill – 171+59+111+109=450
  10. Christina Cordner – 168+56+115+87=426
  11. Tyler Sontag – 181+43+108+81=413
  12. Terry Wagner – 170+59+87+89=405
  13. Joni Stiles – 149+62+116+79=406
  14. Billy Zardo – 150+45+118+88=401
  15. Jeni Harris – 143+45+76+130=394


If you’d like to join the picking forray, shoot me an e-mail at with three drivers that will do in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and three drivers that you think will do in Sunday’s Cup race.


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