NASCAR Pre Race Media: 5 burning questions for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 (4 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN)

Can Elliott Score 1st Sonoma Victory?

Chase Elliott has been about as good as anyone when it comes to road courses in NASCAR. He’s won five of the last six of them including victories in COTA, Watkins Glen, Charlotte ROVAL and the Daytona road course. Can he scratch another one off on Sunday at Sonoma?

Elliott, is 0-for-4 in wine country but does have 2 top eight results in his last three tries. With the defending Cup Series champion winning the final two races of 2020 but being 0-for-15 since, he’s due to a victory and a road course is just the spot.

Can Truex Jr. 3 Peat?

Martin Truex Jr. won the 2018 race on the shorter circuit and the 2019 one on the 2.52 mile long course. They skipped the 2020 event but are back on the long course again in 2021. Can Truex three peat?

He’s led the most laps for three straight years in Sonoma and is at his best on the 750 package this season. All three wins were with it.

Can Larson Get A Road Course Win?

Kyle Larson has won three straight Sonoma poles. The thing is, he’s never turned them into a win, let alone a top five even. His best Sonoma finish in six tries is 10th in 2019. But, all of those were with Chip Ganassi Racing. Now that he’s with HMS, can get turn that into a victory on Sunday? He’s had a top two finish in 40% of the races run this season including four straight.

Will This Shake Up The Playoffs?

We’ve had 15 races run in 2021 but have already had 11 different winners. The question was always, do we get to 16? I mean 10 of the first 11 races saw a new winner. But, over the last four, we’ve only had two new winners. How many more do we get?

Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick combined to win 16 of the 36 races last year but are 0-for-15 this season. Still, they are the top two wildcard drivers by a sizeable margin. The other spots from 14th on back though, are getting wider. That’s a big factor in the sense that 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 and stamp their names into the postseason, but can they afford to give up stage points too?

If you go all out but not score any stage points, someone from 17th on back can do the opposite and position themselves nicely. All 10 winners this year as well as Hamlin and Harvick can be aggressive with their strategy and go for the win. So can almost everyone else from really 23rd on back in the standings.

But, what about the guys from 14th to 22nd?

Strategy is going to be key.

Can Anyone Stop Hendrick Motorsports?

If you look at the top favorites to land in the Championship 4, the question has to be asked – will Hendrick Motorsports sweep the four spots? I mean look at them right now. They went 1-2-3-4 at Dover. They went 1-2-4-5 in the Coke 600. They were 1-2 at COTA and if you go to a runner-up by Kyle Larson in Darlington, they’ve had the second place finisher in the last four races and the winner in the last three.

Now, it’s to a road course where Chase Elliott just won at COTA, should have won in Daytona, won last year at Daytona and the ROVAL, won the ROVAL and Watkins Glen in 2019 for five road course wins in the last six races. He also has three straight top five finishes entering this weekend.

Larson, has four straight top two finishes. William Byron has 12 top 10’s in his last 13 starts on the season with a worst result of 11th since we left Daytona in February. Alex Bowman has two wins lately as well.

I don’t see an end in sight to this HMS dominance.

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