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June 8, 2023

Sonoma 101: Trends, tire info, how to follow race


After starting its journey at World Wide Technology Raceway last weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series concludes its westward trek with a date in wine country at Sonoma Raceway.

Last year, the Cup Series saw another driver reach a milestone as Daniel Suárez dominated the 1.99-mile road course en route to his first career Cup Series win. The winning mark additionally netted Trackhouse Racing its third and final win of the 2022 campaign.

Will the California luster from last year carry over this time around, or will it shine for others? Before we find out how Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will play out, here are some important trends to watch ahead of the action, along with Goodyear tire information and interactive ways to follow along.

RELATED: See paint schemes for Sonoma | Betting favorites for Sunday’s Cup race

๐Ÿƒ WILL AN ACE OR WILD CARD PREVAIL? ๐Ÿƒ

Road-course racing can simultaneously bring expectancy and uncertainty to the mix. On the one hand, you have the usual suspects who have already left their mark on the road-course scene. On the other, you have drivers who could force their way into the conversation and find Victory Lane for the first time in their career, similar to Suárez last year.

After his win at Circuit of The Americas in March, Tyler Reddick has been on quite the streak when it comes to this type of track. The No. 45 23XI driver has won three of the last five road-course races and has led 28% of all laps in that span. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott — who returns from a one-race suspension this weekend — will look to find a dose of rhythm at a type of track he is all too familiar with. After all, the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports driver leads all active drivers in wins on road courses (seven).

Perhaps another mainstay cements his place, such as Kyle Busch, who has finished in the top seven in six of the last seven Sonoma races and is a two-time winner there (2008, 2015). Maybe the Trackhouse duo in Chastain and Suárez put on a good showing worthy of finding the checkered flag once again. Who knows, maybe a different driver altogether, such as Chris Buescher — who finished runner-up at Sonoma last year — finds victory at a road course for the first time in his career.

In other words, options are aplenty for how the field could shake out come Sunday.

RELATED: Elliott aims to build rhythm in Sonoma return

๐Ÿ“‰ TRENDS TO WATCH ๐Ÿ“ˆ

— Drivers 30 years old or younger have won 17 of the last 18 road-course races.

— The last time Ford won a road-course race was Ryan Blaney at the Charlotte Roval in 2018, 20 races ago.

— Toyota has won the last two road-course races, while Chevrolet has won 15 of the last 18 road-course races.

(Via Racing Insights)

NOTABLE MOMENTS ๐ŸŽฅ

2022: Daniel Suárez wins first Cup race of career with thrilling victory | WATCH

2021: Kyle Larson tames Sonoma’s twists and turns en route to dominant win | WATCH

ON-TRACK SCHEDULE ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ

Saturday, June 10

— 5:05 p.m. ET: Practice (FS2, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

— 6 p.m. ET: Qualifying (FS2, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 11

— 3:30 p.m. ET: Toyota/Save Mart 350 (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

MORE: Full weekend schedule at Sonoma

RULE CHANGES/GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES ๐Ÿ›ž

Similar to Circuit of The Americas earlier this season, the choose rule will be in effect. The lack of stage breaks will further bring a different strategy for drivers to navigate in addition to a surplus of tire wear (more on that below).

Goodyear runs one tire on Cup cars at road courses with two different tire codes, which will allow the tires to tread directionally as a way to handle the stress expected to be put on them. Sonoma is now aligned with other NASCAR road courses, with the Sonoma setup being the same as the one run earlier in the year at Circuit of The Americas. The setup will be run again at the Chicago Street Course, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Watkins Glen International and the Charlotte Roval.

Teams will be allotted one set of tires for practice, one set for qualifying and six sets for the race (five race sets plus one set transferred from qualifying).

Goodyear will bring its 18-inch wet weather radials to Sonoma for use by Cup teams should NASCAR decide the conditions warrant them. The last time NASCAR ran a wet weather tire on a road course was at Watkins Glen in August 2022.

In the event of a lost wheel that is contained to pit road, the offending team will be subject to a pass-through penalty under green-flag conditions. If the infraction occurs during a caution period, the offending team will restart at the tail end of the field.

If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty, plus a to-race suspension for two crew members. Each penalty is series-specific: Violations in one series will not impact those crew members’ eligibility to participate in other series.

RELATED: See rules changes for 2023

FAN REWARDS ๐Ÿซต

Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.

There’s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.

Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the NASCAR.com shop and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waving the green flag at qualifying.

JOIN TODAY

FOLLOW THE RACE ๐Ÿ“ฒ

NASCAR Mobile has now added support for fans to “Follow the Race” and access live leaderboard and race information from Live Activities in the current app release (v13.2.0), available now. Android users, we didn’t forget you — the same functionality has been custom-built for Android devices, as well.

How to access Live Activities on iPhones:

  1. Make sure your iOS device has been updated to 16.1 or higher.
  2. Available on the leaderboard of all NASCAR Series races.
  3. Click on the three-dot menu near the top right of screen.
  4. Select “Follow the Race.”
  5. Swipe up to access the home screen and you will see the Live Activities at the top.
  6. Lock the device and you will see Live Activities on the Lock Screen.
  7. To turn off, simply visit the leaderboard, click the three-dot menu and “Unfollow the Race.”

FANTASY LIVE ๐Ÿ†

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM ๐Ÿ’ป

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week, in-car cameras will be available.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.

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