Nascar Racing

Cup Teams Head Back to Sonoma

from a NASCAR Fan’s View

After more than a year, the NASCAR Cup teams head back to the road course at Sonoma. It will be a challenge and it will be very much business as usual. What I mean by that is that there will be no practice and no qualifying. One good thing though… they will be running the longer course with the carousel and that’s the same one they ran the last time they were at Sonoma.

The most mentioned names – and of course the favorites to watch for the win – are Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott. Since these are the two that seem to have road courses mastered recently, I guess their standings as favorites is valid. Since they are the most obvious ones to watch, I may talk about them more later but, I would rather move on at the moment.

First on my list and with the way the Hendrick teams have been performing over the last several weeks in particular, this fan can’t help but think there are three others besides Chase with a good chance to take the win on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Larson is starting on the pole and could very well keep on running at or near the front and end up in Victory Lane.

Another from the Hendrick camp hard for me to rule out is William Byron. He has run well almost every weekend and on every kind of track so, why shouldn’t he be on the list of ones to watch on Sunday afternoon? Well, from this fan’s view, he is on that list and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he didn’t take his second win of the 2021 season. Not saying he will, just saying it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

In keeping with the Hendrick Camp for now, I can’t rule out the possibility of Alex Bowman winning either. Although his strength is not necessarily on road courses, he does have two wins and this could be his breakout weekend on a road course. Do I expect it? Not really but I’m not ruling it out either.

Unfortunately for the Hendrick camp, they don’t have a lock on winning races. As an organization HMS has been running very good and showing a lot of strength but, there are several other drivers and teams that have a great opportunity to win this weekend. Some of those need a win to solidify their spots in trying to get to the playoffs. Sure, I know there are eleven races left to make it but, time has a tendency to run out, especially if there is a struggle with performance. From my view, several teams have shown strength but have not had much consistency. That’s not to say they won’t find what they need to start running up front, but it is also not to say they will. After all, the Hendrick teams struggled for a couple of years before they started running the way they have this season.

In my opinion, the Gibbs teams could be the ones to break out this weekend at Sonoma. Kyle Bush has shown the most in the last couple of weeks but, Denny Hamlin may be struggling and he still manages to finish most races in the top ten even though no win yet. Does that mean he is my pick to win this weekend? No, not all. I’m just saying consistency pays off and his chances of winning are good if he continues consistently running at or near the front. Of course we all know Martin Truex Jr. is part of that camp along with Christopher Bell and he already has a road course win this season.

This is where it becomes a bit more difficult. There are a number of drivers that show a lot of road course prowess and, though there are a number of them, it is hard to say which of them might pull off the victory at Sonoma. It could be difficult because the ones I’m thinking of are spread out over several teams and because there are a number of good road course racers in the Cup series now. I could probably start right here and name of a number of drivers I think could win, but instead, let me just mention a few.

There is really no way to not mention someone like Kevin Harvick. I know his road course record may not look all that good but he is still someone that can and has won on a road course. If for no other reason, that is why I mention him here. Along with him at SHR are a couple of young guns named Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer. Although I’m not expecting them to win, they could and not many would be surprised.

Probably the biggest surprise of those struggling this season would be Team Penske. without going into a long dissertation here, let’s just say Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney or Brad Keselowski might take it to the rest of the field and end up in Victory Lane. Of course another strong road course racer, also in a Ford, would be Michael McDowell. Would it be a shock to see him end up in Victory Lane Sunday afternoon? Yeah, it probably would but it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.

You see, that’s why I think the race at Sonoma this weekend is going to be so interesting. With all of the possibilities from so many different drivers and teams, it is just could be one of the most interesting road course races of the year. No one is guaranteed to win and no one is guaranteed to lose.

So… what do you think? Do you think there will be a repeat winner, a different winner or a first-time career winner at Sonoma this Sunday afternoon? Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought you’d say…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 05, 2021 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
All audio productions by and PodCastNorm Productions
All music TwoBuckThemes from Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.