Week 18 GFT NASCAR AI Driver Rankings: MTJ takes P1 after big win at Sonoma

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
3 min readJun 19, 2023

11 June 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

SONOMA, CA — It was a dominating performance by Martin Truex Jr and his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team to secure his 2nd points paying win of 2023 (Truex also won the season opening “exhibition” Clash at the Colosseum). Some fans wanted NASCAR to eliminate Stage Break caution flags for road course races so that fuel and tire strategy would play a bigger role in the outcome. They got what they asked for. Data analysis following the race indicates it was Truex’s tire management late in the race that allowed him to hold his lead and secure the victory.

How did the Sonoma results impact the GFT NASCAR Ai Driver Rankings?

Week 18 NASCAR GFT Top 25 AI Driver Rankings following the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 11, 2023 (Image: GFT Digital / gofullthrottle.net)

With the win, MTJ jumps 5 spots to P1. Subscribers to our newsletter know that our AI models use ALL available data from NASCAR, including all race data from “exhibition” events (The Clash, Daytona Duels, All-Star race). Last week’s top ranked driver according to our AI models William Byron falls one spot to P2 after a 14th place finish at Sonoma while Kyle Busch takes his strong 2nd place finish to hold P3 in the rankings. Kyle Larson was anticipated to be the car to beat, especially after his dominating drive to win Saturday’s Xfinity race. But Larson struggled to hold pace late at Sonoma and finished 8th — holding onto P4.

Drivers sliding down the rankings after a rough day at Sonoma included Ryan Blaney — falling 3 spots after finishing 31st, and Denny Hamlin who also fell 3 spots to P8 after a 36th place finish. It was a particularly painful outcome for Hamlin who won Pole position in qualifying and looked very strong until clipping the wall and crashing.

Martin Truex Jr on the way to victory in the Toyota Save mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 11, 2023 | Image Credit: Logan Riely Getty Images

Week 18 GFT NASCAR Box Scores after Sonoma

Week 18 GFT NASCAR Box Scores (Image: GFT Digital / gofullthrottle.net)

Manufacturer Wins: Chevrolet = 11, Toyota = 6, Ford = 4
Team Wins:
Hen = 7
JGR = 5
Pen = 3
RCR = 3
JTG = 1
SHR = 1
23XI = 1
TH = 0
RFK = 0
LGCY = 0

Next up: Ally 400 at the Nashville Superspeedway
After a much needed weekend off, all 3 NASCAR series are back in action June 23–25, 2023

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association