The NASCAR circuit swings west to the once a year weekend in wine country. Sonoma was once one of two road courses on the calendar. Times have changed. There are a handful of road courses this season, but Sonoma remains a prestigious race and a technical track that favors skilled drivers. As always, trust the data but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.
Sonoma isn’t old school but it’s old. In comparison to the other road courses on the schedule, it’s ancient. The veterans have been racing here for a while. At the rest of the road courses with the exception of Watkins Glen, there is an even playing field. Teams do not have copious notes for the tracks recently added to the calendar. Drivers lack experience at the new Cup Series contests. That’s not the case at Sonoma. The Vets are the NASCAR Best Bets.
Before we get to the picks, how about a quick victory lap? The NASCAR Bets Bets article is on a heater, having picked the race winner four weeks in a row: William Byron at Darlington, Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro, Ryan Blaney at Charlotte and Kyle Busch at Gateway. Could Sonoma be No. 5?
Race Winner — Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma
Kyle Larson +450
Everyone knows the score. Larson is having another terrific season. He leads NASCAR with three wins but could easily have nine. He lined up second on the final restart last week and walked away with a top-5 finish. Barring a mechanical failure or a wreck, everyone expects Larson to be in the mix at the end of each race. As far as road racing goes, he’s one of the best. With Chip Ganassi Racing, he was an above-average road course driver. In top-tier equipment with Hendrick, he has become elite. In 2021, Larson earned the highest Dietrich Data score (a statistic that comprehensively synthesizes every lap) across the seven road course races. He won at Sonoma and led nearly every lap in 2021. Last season was up and down due to bad luck and mechanical failures, but he still managed to win at Watkins Glen and earned a podium at Road America. He could have won at Sonoma but a loose wheel ruined his race after leading 26 laps.
Chase Elliott +550
The No. 9 Hendrick Chevy has not been great this season, but Elliott’s missed a lot of races. That includes last week’s suspension. Sonoma is the perfect storm for this team. Elliott is angry and the best road course driver in the Cup Series. He’s also a very streaky driver that is unstoppable when motivated. Just about every year he goes on a heater, and a feature of everyone of those heaters is a road course win. Elliott couldn’t quite top Larson at Sonoma in 2021, but he was close. Last season, he led 26 laps at Sonoma like Larson and just like Larson, his pit crew cost him a shot at the win. His team knows the setup and he knows the course.
Race Winner — Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma
William Byron +850
Since 2019, Byron has been close to getting a road course win. He has the equipment and the skills. He needs a little luck, and he needs to execute lap after lap. The Circuit of the Americas race earlier this season was the closest Byron has ever been to having his breakthrough, He led the second-most laps and finished fifth. His average running position was the best and his driver rating ranked second. His 62 laps inside the top 5 at COTA were the most. In 2019, Byron led the second-most laps and won two stages at Sonoma. Stage racing allowed him to maximize real-life points, but it prevented him from earning a top-10 finish because he was buried in traffic to start Stage 3.
Ross Chastain +900
Last season, Chastain earned a 0.86 Dietrich Data score at Sonoma (1.00 is the maximum). In 2021, he earned a 0.90 at Sonoma. Earlier this season, Chastain scored a 0.90 at the similarly technical track in Austin, Texas (COTA). He won at COTA in 2022. Chastain knows how to road race and so does his team. Trackhouse Racing is owned by a former road course ringer, Justin Marks. Chastain’s teammate, Daniel Suarez (+1600), won the the 2022 Sonoma race.
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