For the first time this season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take a break from oval racing. Sonoma Raceway will host the Toyota/Save Mart 350 this weekend, and Sunday’s race will be the first of two road-course events on the schedule.
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is a 218.9-mile (352.3 km) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event held annually at Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point in Sonoma, California. The race joined the NASCAR circuit in 1989. It was added as a replacement for the Budweiser 400 at Riverside, which closed in 1988. The race has undergone several name and length changes since its inception.
The track is known for its unique structure and layout and because of its structure, the race generates ample amount of pre-buzz among media and fans. Contested over 110 laps on the 1.99-mile (3.20 km) road course, the 2017 Toyota/Save Mart 350 will be the 16th race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The race can be seen live on DSPORT on Monday at 12:00 am IST.
The 10-turn, 1.99-mile track challenges the driver’s all-around ability behind the wheel. The restarts are some of the craziest of the year, and braking and shifting must be precise in order to navigate a winding course full of left-hand and right-hand turns and elevation changes.
There will be several road course ringers in the field this weekend. Here are top 5 drivers to look for:
Busch has found the speed he was lacking early in the year. He has led double-digit laps in the last six races leading up to Sonoma, and Busch could finally close the deal this weekend. He won here in 2015, notching his second win at the track and fourth road course win.
He has six straight finishes of 12th or better here, and he has four Top 5s in that span. He also has the best driver rating and average running position at the track and has led the most laps among active drivers.
Harvick doesn’t have a ton of road course wins, but he has been consistent in the NASCAR races. He has three Top 10s in his last four starts at Sonoma with Stewart-Haas Racing, and he has scored the fourth-most points of any driver in the last 10 road course events.
He snapped out of his slump with a third-place run at Michigan, and he should keep the momentum going at Sonoma. He has back-to-back Top 5 at finishes at the track, and his seven Top 10s and 348 driver points in the last 10 road course events are both tied for first.
Bowyer might be the most underrated road course racers in the series today. In his last 10 starts at Sonoma, he has piled up eight Top 10s. In the same span, he has six Top 5s, including a win, and his 11.0 average finish ranks second. In the last 10 road course races overall, Bowyer ranks third in points scored.