Sunday, June 11 featured the NASCAR Cup cars at the famed Sonoma Raceway in California’s ‘Wine Country’ for the 16th event of the season. The track is a 2.52-mile road course featuring 12 twisting turns built into the hillside, creating many challenging elevation changes. NASCAR’s premier Cup series headlined the weekend along with the inaugural Xfinity series, which was staged on Saturday. Cup series drivers are allowed to race in a limited number of Xfinity series races, but earn no championship points. These drivers provide special competitive challenges for the upcoming stars in the Xfinity series and they also use it to hone their own skills.
Martin Truex was able to regain his winning ways with a dominating performance at the Toyota-Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup event contested at the Sonoma Raceway on Sunday. Truex was able to lead 51 of the 110 laps after getting around teammate, and pole sitter, Denny Hamlin early in the race. It was not quite a cake walk as the number 12 qualifier, Kyle “Rowdy” Busch battled his way to the front, taking over the top spot as the other leaders (including Truex pitted) and won the stage two section of the race, while leading for 17 laps. But in the final stage, Truex was able to get around Busch, who had to pit for fresh tires, and was looking to run away from the rest of the field. It looked to be clear sailing until a caution flag for Denny Hamlin’s crash in turn 12 came out. This would bunch up the field with about 17 laps to go. Following quick pit stops by the leaders, including Truex and Busch, Chase Elliott took over the top spot with 14 laps remaining. But with fresh tires Truex and Busch were able to get around Elliot to take the top two spots. However, the tough battling Busch did not have enough car to catch Truex and had to settle for second. Joey Logano and Chris Buescher were also able to get around Elliot to take the third and fourth spots in the closing laps. Truex’s margin of victory was 2.970-seconds. The victory was his second of the season and 33rd of his Cup career. It was also the fourth victory of his Cup career at Sonoma raceway, making this track one of his favorites on the Cup Series road racing circuit.
On Saturday, the Xfinity series took place at the famed wine country race track for the first time, in the Door Dash 250. Kyle Larson dominated by winning each stage of the event and looked to be a sure thing to win the race until he made a critical mistake. Following a caution flag that came out due to Jeffrey Earnhardt backing into the wall in turn 10, the field was bunched back together. Gone was the large lead he had gained. On the restart, Aric Almirola took the lead, with Larson in chase. With eight laps to go, Larson drove into the hairpin turn number 11 too hard. His goal was to get the right-side tires inside the rumble strip. By doing this, his car would gain more traction and be able to launch harder and quicker off the turn, allowing him a better chance of overtaking Almirola for the lead. But, instead, he turned too aggressively and clipped the tires on the strip, which nearly caused him to crash into the outside wall. This dropped him from second to third, as AJ Allmendinger was able to get by. With his car’s front suspension damaged, Larson could not catch the frontrunners. Almirola took the win, followed by Allmendinger and Larson.