ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 KUBOTA CAMARO ZL1
You still seem to run in more than one series on weekends, why is that?
“I think it's important to get as many reps as possible. It's something I've always done no matter what the equipment is like. You look back several years ago and I was running in as many series as I could each weekend just to get that seat time because I feel it’s really important for me. I even went out to Sonoma a few weeks ago to drive a Skip Barber school car just to get more laps at Sonoma. I wanted to start getting my mind trained to turning left and right again so that it comes more natural this weekend. I've done a ton of left turns in my life. Even on the farm, we always turn the tractor left with the way we work the fields. No idea why that really is, it's just the way we've always done it. I would hate to add up all of the left turns I've made in my life, versus right.”
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BREZTRI CAMARO ZL1
How do you prepare for Sonoma Raceway?
“I prepare for Sonoma Raceway by spending a lot of hours on the Chevrolet simulator, and I’ve been at the go-kart track quite a bit this year, which in the past I haven’t done. I could probably run Sonoma in my sleep. I’ve put a lot of effort into this race. I can’t wait to get there in my No. 3 BREZTRI AEROSPHERE™ (budesonide, glycopyrrolate, and formoterol fumarate) Chevrolet Camaro. I really like the track; it’s a fun, slick road course. We have a lot of high hopes for this race to break through and have our best finish on a road course. We’ve been getting better at road racing the last couple of years. We have a shot to qualify well, lead laps, and come out with a good run.”
Does Sonoma Raceway lend itself to the same kind of aggression as Watkins Glen or Circuit of the Americas?
“Yes, it does. Sonoma Raceway has some aggression, but it’s more controlled because of the tire wear. It’s easy to overdrive the car; you have to take care of the rear tires and try not to slide the front tires. The aggression is always there on road courses, and especially in turn 11, the final turn. You know what you are getting when you go into turn 11 and where you can attack and make passes.”
You were strong at COTA earlier this season. Are you excited to get to Sonoma?
“Circuit Of the Americas didn’t go well for us. We didn’t get the finish we deserved after getting spun at the top of the hill. I’m excited about Sonoma Raceway. Ever since the race was over at COTA, we’ve been working on our road course program to come out strong this weekend. I feel like my RCR team is prepared as much as we can.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1
Larson on racing at Sonoma Raceway:
"I always love going back home and racing at Sonoma (Raceway). I always get to see a lot of friends, family and race fans that grew up watching me race sprint cars and stuff around Northern California. I think all of us drivers look forward to going to Sonoma a lot, but with me being from only an hour and half away, it’s a special place. I’ve always qualified really well there. Since I’ve raced with Hendrick (Motorsports), we got a win there in 2021, led some laps in 2022 and had a fast car. We just missed the strategy some and then had a wheel fall off as we were starting to get back into contention. It's kind of a flowy track. The tires wear out, so you kind of manage your runs quite a good bit. There’s a lot of elevation change too. I enjoy all that."
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1
Daniels on what Sonoma means to the team:
"With Sonoma (Raceway) being Kyle (Larson)'s home track, it means a lot to him and it means a lot to the team. We love the track layout itself, just the configuration of the track. It’s got ups and downs and sorts of different shapes and sizes of corners that make it really challenging to set up a car to go fast. It certainly makes it challenging for the drivers, but Kyle does a great job there and we just need to do our part to give him a great car. With the way our team has been executing races, hopefully we can have a good car and have ourselves in the game to execute and have a great day."
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 MCLAREN CUSTOM GRILLS CAMARO ZL1
You scored an impressive victory at Sonoma in 2008, after starting deep in the field and leading the most laps. Is that one of your most satisfying road course victories?
“Sonoma Raceway in 2008 was a really good time. We didn’t qualify very well and didn’t feel like we had very good speed overall, but the cautions fell perfectly for us that day where we were on pit road and then the cautions fell. We were able to leapfrog the competition and get track position. That happened both times we pitted so that was super-good and made our race super-easy by just being able to run hard up front. We made the most of that day. It was definitely a satisfying victory. That one was really cool. It was my first road course victory so that meant a lot.”
You have raced on a couple of different course designs at Sonoma Raceway. What are the challenges of the current layout?
“I’ve raced a few different designs at Sonoma Raceway. I enjoy all of them. The carousel is cool, it’s fun. There’s a lot of transition there and there’s a lot of technicality that you’ve got to figure out to be good on that course as well as the chute course. I don’t prefer one over the other. I think the rest of the course is so challenging in itself. What makes Sonoma special is Turn 11, up the hill in Turn 1, the esses and down the back straightway. It’s just a fun course, very technical.”
Do you think the racing at Sonoma Raceway is more physical on the driver than the other road courses?
“Sonoma Raceway is one of the more physical road courses on the circuit, for sure. You’re always fighting grip. Even when you’re on the front side of a run, you’re trying to hustle the car. you’re slipping and sliding everywhere trying to make the most of the time while not running off course and keeping the tires somewhat underneath you. You try to minimize the tire degradation as it happens as much as you can, yet you know you’ve got to be fast and try to catch the guys in front of you. And with this new Next Gen race car, that has become even more important and more challenging to get right because everybody seems to be running much closer speeds. A lot of setups are very similar, a lot of brake packages are very similar. It’s hard to find any sort of advantage in that.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
Elliott on what it takes to run well at Sonoma:
"It's one of those places that you really do need to attack a little bit. Road course racing in general is pretty aggressive, I think that's fair to say. Last year, it was very track position oriented, and making sure you executed a good race – from having good restarts to being good on pit road to calling the right strategy. Having pace, too, and then that comes back to your qualifying effort. So really, a full weekend of being pretty aggressive, I feel like is probably the best approach to give you a good shot at it."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
Gustafson the team's outlook for the rest of the regular season:
"We're going to keep working hard to get to where we want to be and improve to win some races. We've certainly had some pace in our cars. It hasn't been the most straightforward season for us, but I think everyone's handled it really well. We just need to get back into a rhythm, put together some good runs and work together to be the best that we can be. If we do those things and work super hard, then we're going to be in good shape."
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 GABRIEL GLAS CAMARO ZL1
“Sonoma is always a special, important weekend for me. It’s near where I grew up and I still get to see a lot of friends and family there. Quite honestly, it’s a racetrack that I don’t have a very good average finish. I’ve felt like I’ve always been fast there, but it hasn’t worked out. Being able to run both races [NXS and NCS] I’m really looking forward to it. Sonoma is a racetrack I’ve always wanted to win at knowing it’s my home racetrack and I would be able to do that in front of a lot of friends and family. Hopefully, we can go back there and have some success to keep building on our program.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
Byron on gains needed after the first road course race of the season and how the Next Gen car compares to the previous generation of car:
"We’re hoping to make some gains since COTA (Circuit of The Americas). We were sliding around a little too much with the rear tires there. This car seemed like it had a little bit more grip at Sonoma (Raceway) compared to previous years. However, there were some aspects that were very similar like the shifting."
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
Fugle on the strategy of calling races without stage break cautions:
"When you have a known caution like we did in the past with the stage breaks, you had to short the stages and then you would cycle forward and have track position. If you raced for stage points, generally you would never make it back up there – specifically after stage two. Now, there is no known caution, so you don’t have short anything. You’re going to split the race up into what you believe is the least amount of elapsed time for the shortest race, whether that’s a two-stop, three-stop or four-stop race. Chances are you will be able to collect stage points and have a chance at the race win."
GRANT ENFINGER, NO. 42 SUNSEEKER RESORTS CAMARO ZL1
“My thoughts are with Noah, I know how much he loves this team and the guys on it. I’m happy to help out LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and the No. 42 team.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 ALLEGIANT CAMARO ZL1
"Going out to Sonoma will be a good time, it’s our first time at a road course this year since COTA. We learned a lot. I think we have seen growth as a team since COTA, this track should show the steps we have taken and put them to the test. We have what it takes to get out front and compete this weekend; the whole No. 43 team has made steady progress as a group. Hate the circumstances to not have Dave come to Sonoma, but confident Joey will do a great job filling in for us. Looking to have a good run still.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER / COTTONELLE CAMARO ZL1
“I feel good going into Sonoma with our No. 47 Kroger / Cottonelle Camaro especially after our last road course race at COTA (Circuit of the Americas). We had a good race car there, and it has us optimistic about Sonoma. Our goal this weekend is to stay out of trouble and make it through some crazy late restarts. If we can do that, we will be just fine. It will be a fun weekend. We’ll spend Friday evening with our partners, and then I’m going to race a sprint car Saturday night in Petaluma.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY PRIDE CAMARO ZL1
Bowman on returning to Sonoma:
"I think Sonoma (Raceway) is a place that we can be successful at this year. Last year, we had a really fast No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro and had a shot at a top-five finish but just got caught up in someone else’s mess. Our team back at the shop has built really fast cars all year and even though I was out for a little bit, I think our team is as good as we were before I missed those couple of races. There is no reason we can’t go compete for a win on any given weekend."
BLAKE HARRIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY PRIDE CAMARO ZL1
Harris on the team's outlook for Sonoma:
"I am feeling good heading into this weekend. Hendrick Motorsports had really strong cars there last year. Alex (Bowman) was en route to a top-10 run and got caught up in an on-track incident. I think it is a good opportunity after the end of our race last week to turn things around, go perform and push our team into a good spot heading into an off weekend. Sonoma (Raceway) is probably my favorite road course. I just like the atmosphere and I think it is going to be a good one for the No. 48 team."
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 FREEWAY INSURANCE CAMARO ZL1
Does arriving in Sonoma after a good run at St. Louis give you even more confidence?
“Definitely, man. Every time we head to a road course, whether it’s Sonoma (Raceway), or somewhere else, I am excited. I feel at home and I am excited to go back to a place where we had great memories last time and hopefully we can repeat it. Sunday's race at St. Louis was great for us. It was a good solid run from start to finish. We just need to build on it.”
Can you win again on Sunday?
"Of course we can. We have a very good road course program. You saw how fast we were at COTA. We are going out to Sonoma with plans to sit on the pole, lead every lap and win the race."
What do you remember about Sonoma last year?
"It was such a crazy day and I had so many thoughts in my head. I mean, it was a rough road getting to victory lane but that moment was so worth it. Not just for me but for my family, Julia, these guys believe in me - Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me to get to this point. A lot of people in Mexico - Jay Morales and Carlos Slim. My family, they never give up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn't. I was just very happy we were able to make it work."
What were the final laps like last year?
"I was just trying to stay calm. I knew that it was a big stake on the line, but I was trying to stay calm. I was silent. I wanted to do my thing. I didn’t want too much noise on the radio. I knew what I had to do. I would say after the white flag is when I got out of control. I just start crying inside the helmet, just thinking about it. Especially because I had a big gap. If it wasn’t a big gap, I would be focused. Since I had a big gap, I was just thinking about every single moment that has cost me to be here.
It’s been a different journey. Every NASCAR driver has had a tough journey. Everyone has a different journey. But my journey is definitely the most different of everyone else, leaving my family, my country, and just coming to a different culture, different language.
Thinking of all those things, it makes it very, very, very special."