RACE #16 – SONOMA RACEWAY
Shifting focus from a Midwest oval to a West Coast road course, the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) will make the cross country trek to Sonoma Raceway this weekend. The only appearance at the Northern California circuit for NASCAR this season, the doubleheader race weekend marks just the second road course race for both series in 2022 thus far. While it’s a familiar track to NASCAR, teams will be faced with a new set of unknowns, with drivers competing on a shorter course layout. Previously configured as a 2.52-mile circuit, the track is returning to a 1.99-mile course, with the incorporation of the chute connecting Turns 4 and 7.
Chevrolet is returning to Sonoma Raceway as the defending winners following Kyle Larson’s home state victory at the circuit in 2021. In 32 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Sonoma Raceway, the bowtie brand has claimed the victory a manufacturer-leading 12 times. Chevrolet drivers have a history of success in turning left and right. Career Chevrolet driver, Jeff Gordon, leads the NCS in all-time road course wins with nine; five of which were captured at Sonoma Raceway. Those five victories also make Gordon the winningest driver in the series at the California road course.
A MONUMENTAL HOME STATE WIN
Kyle Larson’s victory in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway was more than just a win for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. The Elk Grove, California, native swept both stage wins and led a race-high 57 laps en route to his first-career road course victory in NASCAR’s premier series. Finally getting the first road course win under his belt, Larson went on to capture two more road course victories later in the season at Watkins Glen (August 2021) and the Charlotte ROVAL (October 2021).
In the past seven road course races for the NASCAR Cup Series, Chevrolet has captured the win at each of those events. This road course win streak dates back to Chase Elliott’s victory at the inaugural Circuit of The Americas (COTA) event in May 2021, with the most recent recorded by Ross Chastain with his first-career NCS win at the series’ return to COTA earlier this season (March 2022).
NCWTS RETURNS TO SONOMA
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series DoorDash 250 on Saturday, June 11, marks the series’ return to Sonoma Raceway for the first time since 1998. The Northern California circuit has only hosted four NCWTS races in the track’s history, with Ron Hornaday Jr. driving Chevrolet to the win in the inaugural race (October 1995).
The bowtie brand looks to capture the third win of the season for the Silverado RST in the 75-lap event. It will be another NASCAR Cup Series / NASCAR Camping World Truck Series doubleheader that will see a handful of Team Chevy drivers pulling double duty, including Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman.
- Austin Dillon will be back behind the wheel of the No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Silverado RST; his second start of the season with the team. While Dillon is no stranger to the series – previously recording seven wins and a championship title (2011) – this weekend will mark Dillon’s first-career road course start in the NCWTS.
- Ross Chastain will return to the seat of the No. 41 Niece Motorsports Silverado RST, marking his 100th start in the NCWTS. Chastain’s most recent start in the series took place just two weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he piloted Chevrolet to its second NCWTS win of 2022 and his fourth-career win in the series.
- The No. 7 Spire Motorsports Silverado RST will be back in action this weekend, this time driven by Alex Bowman. The 29-year-old Chevrolet driver has only made three previous starts in the series in his career, most recently with the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet team at COTA earlier this season. Running a partial schedule, the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Silverado RST is coming off of a strong performance last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, where 19-year-old Rajah Caruth captured the attention of many after piloting the team to an 11th-place finish in just his first-career NCWTS start.
After suffering injuries during a late-race incident at World Wide Technology Raceway last weekend, Carson Hocevar will have fellow Chevrolet driver, Daniel Saurez, on standby as a relief driver for the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Silverado RST. Hocevar is entering the Sonoma race weekend in the eighth-position in the NCWTS driver points standings. Both Hocevar and Suarez will get time behind the wheel during the NCWTS practice session on Friday. Of Suarez’s 28-career NCWTS starts, he has posted one win (Phoenix Raceway; 2016), 10 top-five’s and 16 top-10’s.
CAMARO SS WIN STREAK TO SIX
In an eventful debut for the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) at Portland International Raceway, Chevrolet extended its win streak after AJ Allmendinger piloted the Camaro SS to its sixth-consecutive victory. The win didn’t come easy for the 40-year-old Kaulig Racing driver, with his day starting at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments. Proving his nickname as the road course ringer, Allmendinger overcame two off course incidents, working back through the field to take the checkered flag for the second time this season. The triumph is Allmendinger’s 12th-career NXS victory and his eighth-career NXS road course win. The win in the inaugural event also marks Allmendinger’s third-consecutive NXS road course win, a feat that ties the series record previously posted by Terry Labonte.
Not only was this road course circuit a new venue for the series, but Mother Nature played a vital role in on-track action throughout the weekend. While qualifying was cut short due to heavy rainfall, tricky weather conditions carried over to race day. Starting the race on rain tires, varying weather conditions continued through stage two, with teams able to return to slicks for the final stage. Battling through final stage chaos, Allmendinger led a strong Chevrolet showing in the final running order, with eight Camaro SS drivers placing in the top-10. This includes a sweep of the top-six finishing positions: Allmendinger (race winner), Myatt Snider (2nd), Austin Hill (3rd), Josh Berry (4th), Justin Allgaier (5th) and Daniel Hemric (6th). Noah Gragson drove his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team to a ninth-place finish, with Alex Labbe, No. 36 DGM Racing Chevrolet, rounding out the top-10.
With its nine wins this season, Chevrolet now has more than double the win count of competing manufacturers. Becoming the fourth driver to post multiple wins in the series this season, Allmendinger continues to lead the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver points standings, with a 43-point lead over second. Chevrolet drivers have taken over four of the top-five and eight of the top-10 in the NXS driver points standings. With its 23 NXS Manufacturer Championship titles, Chevrolet also continues to lead in the NXS manufacturer standings, extending its lead to 67-points heading into two consecutive off weeks. The series will be back in action at Nashville Superspeedway with the Tennessee Lottery 250 on June 25.
Heading into the Sonoma race weekend, 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Chase Elliott, has maintained the lead in the NCS driver points standings for an impressive 11th-consecutive week. A road course favorite, Elliott looks to finish one spot better than the 2021 NCS race at Sonoma Raceway as he has his eyes set on his eighth-career NCS road course victory; a feat that would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer, Tony Stewart, for second on the NCS all-time road course win list. Elliott leads a strong list of Chevrolet drivers in the standings with two in the top-five and five in the top-10, all of which have secured a 2022 NCS Playoff berth by virtue of a win.
Going for its 41st NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championship in 2022, Chevrolet also continues to lead in the manufacturer standings by 21-points, with seven drivers among four different Chevrolet teams contributing to those points thus far. In 15 points-paying races, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in NCS race wins (7), top-five’s (36), top-10’s (70), laps led (2,234) and stage wins (15). Chevrolet drivers have claimed a series-leading 15 stage wins by seven different drivers, recorded at 10 different racetracks.
· Active NASCAR Cup Series drivers who have previously won at Sonoma Raceway:
Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 (2021)
· Road course favorite, Chase Elliott, has recorded seven road course victories in his NASCAR Cup Series career; the most of all active NCS drivers. Elliott also ranks third on the NCS all-time road course wins list behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine wins) and Tony Stewart (eight wins). Those victories have been recorded at five different road courses, a record in series history.
· In the seven road course events on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Chevrolet captured the victory in six of those races. With only one road course race in the books so far in 2022, Chevrolet continued its road course success with Ross Chastain capturing his first-career NCS win at COTA in March.
· Chevrolet leads the way in NASCAR Cup Series pole wins at Sonoma Raceway with 16. Of the three active NCS pole winners include Kyle Larson, who leads that group with three poles (2017, 2018, 2019). Larson is one of just four drivers in NCS history to have posted consecutive pole wins at Sonoma Raceway.
· Career Chevrolet driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jeff Gordon, leads the series in NASCAR Cup Series wins at Sonoma Raceway with five wins (1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006). Gordon is one of just two drivers that have posted consecutive NCS wins at the Northern California road course circuit.
· Of the 32 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Sonoma Raceway, Chevrolet has recorded a manufacturer-leading 12 of those wins, including the most recent by Kyle Larson in 2021. The bowtie brand also leads in pole wins at the Northern California road course with 17.
· Kyle Larson’s home state win at Sonoma Raceway in 2021 marked his first-career road course win in NASCAR’s premier series. Larson went on to win two more road course races later in the season at Watkins Glen and the Charlotte ROVAL.
· William Byron leads the NASCAR Cup Series in total laps led thus far this season with 570. Two other fellow Chevrolet drivers join Byron in the top-five of that list, including Chase Elliott in second with 445 laps led and Ross Chastain in third with 426 laps led.
· With 15 NASCAR Cup Series races complete in the 2022 season, Chevrolet continues to lead all manufacturers in NCS wins (7), top-five’s (36), top-10’s (70), laps led (2,234) and stage wins (15).
· Seven Team Chevy drivers have combined 15 NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:
Tyler Reddick 2 - (Fontanax2)
Alex Bowman 1 - (Las Vegas)
Ross Chastain 3 - (Las Vegas), (Darlington), (Charlotte)
William Byron 3 – (Phoenix), (Atlanta), (Talladega)
Daniel Suarez 2 – (COTA), (Charlotte)
Chase Elliott 3 – (Martinsvillex2), (Charlotte)
Kyle Larson 1 – (Bristol)
· Of the four NASCAR Cup Series drivers that have recorded multiple wins this season, two come from the Chevrolet camp: (Ross Chastain – COTA, Talladega), (William Byron – Atlanta, Martinsville).
· Chevrolet leads the driver points standing in both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Chase Elliott remains in the top position in the NCS standings with a 9-point advantage over second; and AJ Allmendinger continues to lead the NXS standings by 43-points. Chevrolet also remains atop both the NCS and NXS manufacturer points standings.
· With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships; 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships; and 821 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.
FS1 will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 12, at 4 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
FS1 will broadcast the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series DoorDash 250 on Saturday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1
WHEN DID YOUR ROAD RACING SKILLS IMPROVE?
"In 2015 when I was running the Xfinity Series, Chevrolet gave me time in Spring Mountain, Nevada and Ron Fellows and his group would teach me the basics, how to turn, how to shift. It's just unnatural when you're used to turning left your whole life. It's the opposite in road course racing - the seat feeling, g-forces on your body. That was super helpful to me and I've just kept working on it."
ANY THOUGHTS ON USING THE CHUTE THIS YEAR AT SONOMA VERSUS THE CAROUSEL LIKE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS?
"I don't really have an opinion on the chute. I've obviously only ever raced on the carousel at Sonoma. I remember watching guys run the chute growing up on TV, but it just adds another element for me to figure out this time."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 TRUE VELOCITY CAMARO ZL1
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR SONOMA RACEWAY?
“A lot of simulator time. Get in the simulator and run a lot of laps. We’ve been finding some time to do that within the busy schedule. Road courses haven’t been a strong suit for us, but they are improving, and I am very proud of that. There’s a lot of beating and banging at the end of those road courses. It seems like they’ve become rougher and rougher as we go. I’m looking forward to those challenges. I did put in a lot of work this off season.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM HAS DONE SO FAR THIS YEAR?
“We’ve been pretty consistent week in and week out. We’re just showing up and doing our job; keeping all four tires on the ground and working hard to make the car better throughout the race. Hopefully we will have a win soon, but for now we are just doing the best we can to be consistent and earn stage points. That’s what you have to do.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
LARSON ON RACING AT SONOMA RACEWAY:
"I’ve always had some good speed at Sonoma (Raceway) and it’s my home track. It’s always fun to see my friends and family, and it was cool to get my first win at my home track last year. But that was with last year’s car and on the longer track. Hopefully, we can get another pole there this weekend, lead some laps and challenge for the win again."
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
DANIELS ON THE TRACK WITHOUT THE CAROUSEL:
"The track layout will be a different element compared to the last couple trips we’ve made there. We’ll place a little more emphasis on right-hand turns because so much focus was placed on the carousel and the left-hand turning capability of the car – and now we don’t race that portion of the track. It’s just going to race differently."
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 LENOVO CAMARO ZL1
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GETTING BETTER ON ROAD COURSES?
"I’ve gotten better through practice and working on the simulator. Sonoma is one that I’ve only raced at once and now we’ve changed configurations again so it’s like starting over. Hopefully, the learning period is not too large. Sonoma is an abrasive track and wears tires out.”
WHAT HAS SONOMA RACEWAY MEANT TO THE AREA THAT YOU GREW UP IN; AND WAS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THAT TRACK THAT GOT YOU EXCITED ABOUT RACING WHEN YOU WERE A KID?
“Well oddly enough, I never went there as a kid. It was seven hours from where I was born but it was the closest track that we had. I always watched on TV and wondered what it was like down there. I was never in Napa Valley. It’s kind of weird for me. It’s the closest one to home but it was so far away it never made sense to go. I definitely liked going there for the first time. I got to spend a couple of days exploring the area last time I raced there. I went out early and got to go home. It was cool to spend some time in the area but for me it is a weird sensation because it does feel really far from home.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
ELLIOTT ON RACING AT SONOMA RACEWAY:
"Sonoma (Raceway) has been a place that has been a pretty big challenge for me in the past. Last season, I felt like it was the best I’ve ever been there. We were pretty good late in the race and I was really proud of that effort by our NAPA team. With having one road course race down with this new car and having some learnings from COTA (Circuit of The Americas), I’m hopeful that we can put together another strong run like we did last year."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
GUSTAFSON ON PREPARING FOR THE SECOND ROAD COURSE RACE OF THE SEASON:
"Heading into the first road course race of the year at COTA (Circuit of The Americas), we didn’t really know what to expect. There are so many new things with this car, so many unknowns. We didn’t really get the chance to test on a road course before the season started. Chase (Elliott) had the opportunity to drive the car at Charlotte (ROVAL), but we weren’t there because we were in the middle of the playoffs. So, it was a steep learning curve for our team at COTA and I think going through that experience was good. It certainly helped us moving forward. We’ve still got to learn some things, but now I think can start working our way down the list of unknowns that we need to figure out. Hopefully, we have a better run than we did in COTA and be able to go off that for the remainder of the road courses this season."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
BYRON ON HOW TO APPROACH THIS SUNDAY’S RACE AT SONOMA RACEWAY:
"I think Sonoma (Raceway) is the most different of the road courses that we race on. I feel like you have to focus more on your corner entry and exits to really be able to roll through them and get a good run off. There’s not many true braking zones, so it’s more about keeping as much speed as possible and setting yourself up for the next corner constantly. I feel like that changes what you want from the handling of your car as well. We’ve had good runs going there the last couple races, we just haven’t had the finishes to match it. We also have had to approach this race differently in the past strategy-wise and focus more on capturing as many points as possible. Coming into this race with 13 playoff points already, I think we’re in a better position to utilize a different strategy this time around."
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
FUGLE ON HIS THOUGHTS FOR SONOMA RACEWAY:
"This is only my second time going to Sonoma (Raceway) and it will be my first with this configuration. I think we had a solid race going last year before being caught up in a late race incident and we have a good notebook to lean off of from the No. 5 car’s win. Obviously, there will still be some unknowns for this weekend, especially with this being only the second road course race with the Next Gen car. We were able to test two weeks ago at Watkins Glen (International) for the Goodyear tire test and I think we learned a lot that we can apply for Sonoma. Right now, it’s going to be all about building our notebook for this style of racing seeing as four of the next 10 races are road courses."
TY DILLON, NO. 42 ALLEGIANT CAMARO ZL1
DO YOU TRAIN FOR A ROAD COURSE DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU WOULD AN OVAL?
“Not physically. Physically I train the same for everywhere. I wouldn’t even say my training is based on racing; it’s more about making sure my heart is good shape. It’s physically balanced across my body, arms, and legs so that I can take a three-and-a-half, four-and-a-half-hour workout pretty much every week. Recovery is very big for me too, so just as important as it is for me to continue working out, it’s important for me to make sure I’m getting rest and putting my brain ready to settle into more racing. There is a lot that goes into it if you want to be able to hold yourself to a standard for 38 weeks a year. It’s definitely a challenge when you only have one off weekend from February to November.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 FOCUSFACTOR CAMARO ZL1
WITH THE NEW CAR AT SONOMA THIS WEEKEND, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
“I think COTA (Circuit of the Americas) was a good race and put on a good show for everybody. Hopefully the new car does the same thing in Sonoma. I’m glad we are going back to the old configuration for this weekend at Sonoma. I wasn’t a huge fan of the carousal. I think it made racing a bit tougher and more challenging to pass here and there. So, I’m happy to go back to the old configuration again. You’ll be driving hard. This car is better on road courses, so you have to drive harder. I think it’ll be just as race-y as we’ve seen, probably a bit better going back to the old layout.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY/BETTER TOGETHER CAMARO ZL1
BOWMAN ON RACING TWICE AT SONOMA RACEWAY:
"I think it’s important to get as many laps as I can in before getting in the No. 48 Ally Chevy on Sunday. Last time we ran the No. 7 Spire truck, we had a ton of speed and I think it helped me learn the track which helped me be fast in the Cup race. Obviously, it didn’t end the way I wished, but ultimately, the experience can only make me better."
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY/BETTER TOGETHER CAMARO ZL1
IVES ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE AT SONOMA RACEWAY:
"We had a ton of speed at COTA (Circuit of The Americas) and got collected in someone else’s mess which cost us a win. I think it’s great that Alex (Bowman) is going to get back in the No. 7 HendrickCars.com Spire truck to get more road course experience – it served him well last time. We learned a lot at COTA and Alex gained some confidence in his ability to run well on road courses, so I am optimistic for the race and look forward to getting out to Sonoma (Raceway) and redeeming ourselves on a road course."
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 ONX HOMES/RENU CAMARO ZL1
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SONOMA?
"Trackhouse Racing has been fast everywhere this year but we have been particularly fast on the road courses so, of course, I am very excited about this weekend in Sonoma.
We are very strong. I am just happy to be in this position. We have a great group of people, great support from everyone at Trackhouse, Chevrolet and all of our sponsors."
WHAT WILL THE CHALLENGES BE?
"You just have to take care of your brakes, tires. It is a track that wears out your brakes a lot. You just have to pay attention."
GRANT ENFINGER, NO. 23 CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT SILVERADO RST
“I'm looking forward to getting to Sonoma, which is a track I've never been to before. It's been quite some time since the trucks last raced there, so it will be cool to scratch a new track off my bucket list. The layout is very technical, and there's some pretty wore out asphalt there, so we should have some tire fall off to make the race interesting. I can't wait to learn the track and I'm sure Charles will have us a solid Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet, so I look to do my part and have a good day."
JACK WOOD, NO. 24 COOKS COLLISION SILVERADO RST
"I can't wait to go to my home track this week in Northern California. I grew up only about an hour away from Sonoma, and there has been a lot of time and effort put in behind the scenes for this race. I think we are going to have a good chance at producing a solid run. I'm so excited to have Cooks Collision on our No. 24 Chevy this week, we will have a bunch of former employees that worked for the company over the past 40 years, so it will be great to celebrate and commemorate all of the memories from over the years."