TRACK: Sonoma Raceway (2.52 mile, 12 turn road course). DISTANCE: 90 Laps — STAGE 1: 20 Laps, STAGE 2: 20 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 50 Laps, MILES (226.8 Miles)
Favorites – Toyota The Favorites?
Martin Truex Jr.
He’s led the most laps in each of the last three years in Sonoma. He’s won this race for two straight years too.
He’s dominated the Daytona road course, the ROVAL as well as Watkins Glen. He’s just won in COTA. He’s also 0-for-4 in Sonoma though. But, Elliott does have two top eight results in his last three Sonoma tries too.
He’s had four straight top 10’s including three of which being in the top five. He had just one top five and two total top 10’s in his previous 10 Sonoma starts before that.
He’s a two-time Sonoma winner and has scored four top five finishes in his last five wine country starts including a worst finish of seventh in this time frame.
He’s a past winner to go along with having five straight top six Sonoma finishes.
For the first time since 2019, we’re back in wine country. Last year’s race wasn’t held but we’re now back. Also, this will be just the second time since 1998 that they’ll run the longer course as every year between 1998 and 2018, they ran the short course.
Still, it didn’t matter what course was run, Martin Truex Jr. has won the last one on each. He in fact dominated 2017 in leading the most laps. He led the most laps in 2018 and again in 2019 en route to the victory. Can he three-peat on Sunday?
Chase Elliott has dominated on the road courses lately but is 0-for-4 in Sonoma. He does have two top eight results in his last three wine country starts too though.
They’ve combined to win nine of the last 11 road course races including Elliott earning a win in five of the last seven overall. The only ones that they didn’t win are the ROVAL in Charlotte in 2018 in which Truex was leading on the final lap heading into the final turn but was crashed by Jimmie Johnson and the Daytona road course back in February in which Elliott dominated and was leading before a fluke rain caution. That’s it.
So, in terms of favorites, you have to look at these two.
You also can look at Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. They combined to win 16 of the 36 races last year but are 0-for-15 this season. Hamlin has three top fives in his last four Sonoma starts while Harvick has five straight top sixes himself. Do either of them get their first Cup win of the season on Sunday?
The other thing to watch is points. We’ve had 11 winners in 15 races this season which leaves as of now, five wildcard spots open. But, what happens if Harvick or Hamlin finally win? That’s two more spots. Plus, Sonoma is a spot to where you can give up stage points to position yourself after the stage with track position.
How do the guys on the playoff bubble handle this? They could use a win, but can they afford to give up stage points too?
Strategy is going to be key too.
Just once has a driver won the race and placed in the top 10 in any of the six stages run at Sonoma. No stage winner has ever won this race either.