NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are known for going fast and turning left, but the next national event is one of two races where they must turn right as well. The Wine Country in northern California is known for growing grapes and producing millions of vintage bottles, but this weekend the roar of stock cars will echo across numerous nearby slopes.
The NSCS green flag will drop for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, and close out June racing on the 28th.
Drivers have had a rare week off for Father’s Day, but most will be eager to shake off any rust, and take the popular challenge at Sonoma. Six drivers near the top of NSCS standings shared their take on the road-course event for fans.
Wins haven’t come easy for talented Martin Truex Jr., but he has won recently in 2015 and on the twisting Sonoma track in the past as well.
“I like Sonoma Raceway, especially when I won there two years ago,” he said. “It’s fun, but it can get crazy. You need to be out front towards the end of the race. That’s what you work for all day—to put yourself in position—strategy and fuel mileage.”
In typical fashion Matt Kenseth commented on the technical aspects of the next race track.
“Sonoma seems to be different every time we go there,” he said. “Some races have been won there by strategy, while other ones have been won by speed. Restarts are really important. Track position is incredibly important.”
Carl Edwards has the physique of an NFL linebacker and will need his muscular prowess to compete.
“We are headed to Sonoma for the most fun race of the season; it’s pure driving, left, right, using all the gears, managing the tires, and pit strategy comes in to play,” he said. “This is a tough race and it’s also one of the most physically demanding races. “
Jeff Gordon was born in California and would like nothing better than to win on Sonoma turf.
“Sonoma race weekend is always special to me because of family and friends and how good the track has been to me, but this weekend may be even more special because it’s my final race there,” he said. “I am going to miss racing there.”
Kurt Busch is good at defining challenges and remembering details.
“At Sonoma, the race itself is a rhythmic balance that you get into,” he said. “You work all the corners, you try to tie them all together to create your lap time. Road courses are unique as far as how you get into that rhythm.
“What is going to be tough this year versus years past is that we’ve had no testing. No road-course shake downs. It’s going to challenge the drivers this year in a unique way.”
Jamie McMurray is having good results and will likely make the Chase win or not. He races well on road courses.
“We have a chance to go back to the track and win a third-straight pole at Sonoma this weekend,” he said. “I feel like we have really been working well together as a team and this would be a great weekend to work our way into the Chase.”
Aric Almirola learned from one of the best at racing left and right and is optimistic.
Sonoma is a very difficult track,” he said. “Having Marcos Ambrose as a teammate for the past three years, really helped me become a better road course racer. We have 11 races to get ourselves in a position for ‘The Chase.’ We’re in a good spot now.”
Fans will be in a good spot if they live near or will be in Wine Country this weekend. But those without tickets to the picturesque racetrack can catch the action that will unfold on at least 218.9 miles or 110 laps at 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.