Cup Teams Take On Sonoma     

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The Cup teams take on Sonoma again but this time it’s different. The track layout is the same but there’s a whole new dynamic this time around. This time the track is completely different even though it is still the same old Sonoma. This time it’s been repaved and judging from the way things have gone so far, the old notes the teams have may not be all that helpful. The grip is up, the speeds are up and the challenge appears to be new for all.

Ok, so what does all this mean for the race today?

Well, it could mean a lot could be different from the way the race is run, the strategies applied and a totally unexpected outcome when the final flag drops. Yeah, there could be some totally unexpected drivers leading the way OR it could be all the same ones running for the victory at the end of the day. No one really knows exactly what the end results will be because the track redo has changed everything from the speeds being considerably faster to the way the drivers have to approach every segment of the track.

It was one thing when it was practice and qualifying but one has to wonder how things will go when all of the cars are on the track at the same time, vying for the same real estate as they all try to advance to the front and end up in Victory Lane. Needless to say, it should make for a very interesting day at the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

There is no doubt about it. The speeds are blisteringly fast this time around and that can be a good thing or a bad thing for all involved. From this fan’s view, I don’t think anyone has a really good grip on how the tire wear will go for this one and, at the end of the day, that could be one of the biggest difference makers on the whole strategy approach. I know they got some good input from the practice and the qualifying but there is still that long-run thing they always talk about.

Probably one of the things that surprised me the most during qualifying was how the tires seemed to do better after a lap or so instead of the usual fastest being on stickers. That is one thing about today’s race that I will be taking notice of as the race progresses. Just how long will a set of tires last? Since the speeds are up, will there be a sudden drop off or will there be a lot of consistency throughout a run? Just how much will tire wear affect how the racing goes?

If you ask me, those are good questions and they are questions I am sure the engineers are asking, too. Sure, I know the Fords of Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney qualified first and third but, will their speeds hold up in the long runs? From what I heard, they don’t expect a lot of tire fall off as the race goes on and that could be one of the major aspects affecting the whole approach to stages and race strategy.

Another thing that is likely to affect the racing today is just how aggressive the drivers are going to be. Since the speeds are up, and up a lot, there is likely going to be more than a few “excursions” off the racing surface by more than one driver and, from this fan’s view, it could happen to any one of them. That includes those that might be at or near the front at any time during the stages or as they press for the lead at the end. If you don’t think that can happen, I would simply point you to Kyle Larson during qualifying. His wasn’t exactly and excursion off the racing surface but it was contact with the tire barrier that killed his lap. Things like that can happen at anytime during the race and it can change the whole outcome of a stage or the race.

So, how will this Toyotas/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma go? I find it interesting that in qualifying, there are only two Toyotas qualified in the top ten. That would be Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs. I already mentioned the Fords of pole winner Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney. Probably the biggest surprise to this fan is the Hendrick Chevys. I don’t know how it will hold up for them but they all qualified pretty much together in the top eight with Daniel Suarez in seventh and Ross Chastain in ninth. I don’t know that that’s so unusual for the Chevys to show some speed for qualifying and the start of the race but, I do find it interesting they all qualified very close to each other.

With every lap expected to be hammer-down and highly aggressive, I suppose anything could happen and none of the top ten starters could finish in the top ten. (Uh, and if you believe that, I do have some great waterfront property I can sell you.) Now, I’m not at all saying that’s the way things will go and the top teams usually find a way to get and stay up front. I don’t expect this race at Sonoma to be business as usual and I am sure the drivers starting this one and that end up at the front will have to drive like every lap is the last one…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 9, 2024 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and Pod Cast Norm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

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