Cup Teams Road Racing At Sonoma

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

It’s kind of funny to me that just as many people talk about the wine as they do about the racing the Cup teams will be doing today at Sonoma. Well ok, maybe I am exaggerating just a little bit but, it does seem that way from my view. I mean, just about everyone talks about this visit to the popular track in the Wine Country at Sonoma but, in all honesty, they do talk positively and endlessly about this race. In my opinion, this is one of the best Road Courses on the NASCAR circuit and is one of my favorites, too.

Look… I don’t know if it is the way the track is laid out with its twists and turns or the differences in elevation, but one thing is certain. This is a great road course and honestly, I like it much better than COTA. I can’t explain it. I just know I like it along with many others and I always look forward to the race here.

It looks to this fan that the Toyotas have found some extra speed this weekend. All of them looked to be running about the same speeds and it appears, at least at first glance and based on the qualifying, they just might be the ones to beat this afternoon. Of course, qualifying is one thing and racing is quite another.

That’s the problem with comparing practice and qualifying for what actually goes down on race day. It is one thing when you have just a few cars on the track and another when there are thirty-six of them running at different speeds and having to negotiate the turns with someone either in the way for best entry or taking the line needed to maintain the fastest speed.

So… what about the Chevys and Fords? Well, they have shown up with speed and pace this weekend and, if nothing else, it should make for a very interesting day at the races. Of course, taking a quick look at the lineup shows five of the six Toyotas in the field are in the top eight. Only two Fords are in the top ten but those are two good road racers, namely, Michael McDowell and Chris Buescher.

The first Chevy doesn’t appear until the fifth spot and that’s AJ Allmendinger but, there are seven strong Chevys in a row starting at the ninth spot. As long as those in the top five or six don’t just run off and leave everyone else behind as they sort themselves out, the Chevys just might make things tough on those Toyotas.

Once again it appears, at least to this fan, the Hendrick Chevys might have missed the setup off the trucks this weekend. They didn’t qualify all that well last weekend and this weekend looks very similar. Chase Elliott qualified tenth, Alex Bowman fourteenth, Kyle Larson sixteenth and William Byron is way back in twenty-sixth.

I have to admit; that kind of surprised me since Kyle Larson was one many talked about as a contender for the pole – since he’s had so many at Sonoma – and he just didn’t show the speed in qualifying. As many saw in the Xfinity race on Saturday, he isn’t flawless and he had a miscue that cost him big time. Perhaps that will motivate him even more to perform well today. It wouldn’t surprise this fan at all to see him up front pressing for the win at the end of the day at Sonoma. He does have his work cut out for himself, but then lately, that has been just another day at the races for Kyle.

Probably the biggest surprise from this fan’s view was how much William Byron seemed to be struggling to make speed this weekend. Considering the way he’s been running this season, it just didn’t seem like everything was clicking for him and his crew chief, Rudy Fugle. Of course, I won’t discount their ability to make wholesale changes and them be contenders by the end of the day. Not saying they will be able to pull it off but, I do mention it as a possibility.

Looking at the race for today and the way things can happen on a road course, I suppose it is possible the Toyotas could all finish at the front and there are three that could end up as the winner when it is over. But this is Sonoma and, just like any other day in a NASCAR race, anything can happen. Why it would even surprise this fan if someone like Kevin Harvick ends up in Victory Lane when the final checkered flag drops. Come to think of it, that wouldn’t be a bad thing at all either…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 11, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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