VAVEL NASCAR pick 'em: Toyota/Savemart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Mark Smith remains in the lead of VAVEL NASCAR Pick 'Em as we inch closer to the halfway mark of the season. He was in second for most of the season, but a couple of off weeks for Stevie Larson allowed him to steal the lead, although at Michigan it was Stephen Furst and Brandon Farris who were the biggest winners, as they both chose Kyle Larson to win, and he finished third.

How it works

Every week, each member of the VAVEL NASCAR team chooses one driver who they think will win that weekend. Each writer gets points based on the following:

- A first place finish nets 10 points. Each position after gets one less point, with a 10th place finish netting just one point

- Every 10 laps a driver leads results in another point for the writer who chose him.

After each race, the official race results are used to compute the current standings, and the picking for the next week commences.

Current standings

Here are the standings entering this weekend's race at Sonoma Raceway.

This weekend's picks

Here are the picks for this weekend.

Mark Smith

Driver: Tony Stewart

Reason: "I believe that this week at Sonoma Raceway that finally Smoke Will Rise. Stewart has always been one of the best drivers on the road courses in NASCAR and has contended in recent years at this track for the win. To get into The Chase at the end of the season it looks like the next two weeks could be the best opportunity for the driver of the #14 Chevrolet."

Stevie Larson

Driver: Chase Elliott

Reason: "Elliott has yet to win a race in his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, although he has come pretty close on occasions. Even though he does not have the experience on a road course that some of the other drivers have, anything can happen once the engines fire, and he will be in victory lane at the end of the race."

Stephen Furst

Driver: Brad Keselowski

Reason: "Keselowski has proven himself very competitive on the two road courses on the Sprint Cup Series schedule. He is usually hanging out in the top 5 and almost always a threat to win. He'll have some tough competition from the likes of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, but at the end of the day he'll come out on top."

Brandon Farris

Driver: Jimmie Johnson

Reason: "Nearly won here last year if it wasn't for a late caution. Maybe lady luck will be on his side this time."