GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
12 min readJun 8, 2024

7 June 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

SONOMA, CA — The Toyota / Save Mart 350 is the 16th event of the 2024 season, and the second of five road/street courses on the schedule this year (COTA, Sonoma, Chicago Street Race, Watkins Glen and Charlotte ROVAL).

NASCAR Cup Series Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Track Length: 1.99 Mile Asphalt Road Course
The Date: Sunday, June 9
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $8,426,274
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 218.9 miles (110 laps)
Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25)
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 55)
Final Stage (Ends on Lap 110)

So far this season, Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron took the first road course victory of the year at Circuit of The Americas back in March. Now, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway to battle it out on the challenging 1.99-mile, multi-elevational road course for the 35th time in Cup Series history (1989–2024).

Joe Gibbs Racing’s teammates Denny Hamlin won the pole and Martin Truex Jr. took home the race win at Sonoma Raceway last season. It was Truex’s fourth win at Sonoma Raceway in the series (2013, 2018, 2019 and 2023) — most among active drivers this weekend.

Sonoma Raceway is a 2 mile, 12 turn road course in Napa Valley, CA (Image Credit: sonomaraceway.com)

Track Facts
Track Length: 1.99 Miles
Race Length: 350 Kilometers / 226.8 Miles (110 Laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: N/A
First Race: June 11, 1989 — Banquet Frozen Foods 300
Banking: Hilly road course
Number of Turns: 12

Qualifying & Race Records
Qualifying: Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 96.568 mph, (1:14:186); June 27, 2015 (Set in Round 1 of 2) (1.99-mile circuit);
Qualifying: Mark Martin, Ford, 92.807 mph, (1:37.751); May 2, 1997 (2.52-mile circuit)
Race: Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 83.624 mph (2:39:55); June 24, 2012 (1.99-mile circuit/ 110 Laps)
Race: Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 83.922 mph (2:42:09); June 23, 2019 (2.52-mile circuit/ 90 Laps)

Track Records
Most Wins: 5 — Jeff Gordon
Most Poles: 5 — Jeff Gordon
Most Top Fives: 14 — Jeff Gordon
Most Top 10s: 18 — Jeff Gordon

Qualifying well is imperative for a successful weekend at Sonoma

The 34 NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma Raceway have produced 19 different pole winners since the first event in 1989. Qualifying well is crucial for a shot at the win this weekend, as only two of the previous 34 Sonoma Raceway Cup races have been from a starting position outside the top-15 (5.9%).

In total, only 15 different starting positions on the grid have led to victories in the 34 NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma Raceway. The pole or first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more series wins (six) than any other starting position at Sonoma Raceway.

In total, six of the 34 (17.6%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma Raceway have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent was Kyle Larson’s win in 2021. Four different drivers have won a NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway from the pole or first starting position: Jeff Gordon — leads series with three victories from the pole (1998, 1999 and 2004), along with Ernie Irvan (1994), Mark Martin (1997), and Kyle Larson (2021).

Of the 19 NASCAR Cup Series Sonoma Raceway pole winners, four are entered this weekend.

This weekend’s starting lineup will be decided by Busch Light Pole Qualifying, scheduled for Saturday, June 8 at 6 p.m. ET on FS2.

Larson heads to Sonoma looking to tie Jeff Gordon for most poles at the track

When it comes to starting on the pole at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, nobody has done it more than NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, who leads the series in poles at Sonoma with five (1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005). This weekend, Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson, fresh off receiving a waiver for missing the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, heads to Sonoma looking for his fifth career NASCAR Cup Series pole at Sonoma Raceway to tie Gordon’s series record for most poles at the famed Californian road course.

Larson currently leads all active Cup drivers in poles at Sonoma with four (2017, 2018, 2019, 2022).

The NASCAR Cup Series record for the most wins by a driver at a single road course is six victories at Riverside International Raceway by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (1971, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1981–1, 1981–3).

The Fab Four: Just four former Sonoma winners entered this weekend

Since 1989, a total of 21 different drivers have won at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon five victories at the famed road course (1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006). This weekend, fans will also have a chance to check out former Sonoma Cup winners — Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson — compete this Sunday.

Road course aces to Sonoma

At one time in the NASCAR Cup Series being a road course specialist was an anomaly, but not anymore.

Heading into this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, the NASCAR Cup Series has 14 former road course winners entered in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 and seven of them are looking for their first win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season — Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain and Micheal McDowell.

Of the 14 active Cup Series road course winners, eight have won multiple times on road courses, led by Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott with seven road course wins in his career. Elliott’s seven road course victories has him ranked third on the series all-time road course wins list behind only NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon with nine road course victories (Sonoma, five win; Watkins Glen, four wins) and Tony Stewart with eight (Watkins Glen, five wins; Sonoma, three wins). With a win this weekend, Elliott would tie Stewart for second on the all-time road course wins list.

Last season’s Sonoma winner, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., with five total road course wins in his career — second-most among active drivers — finished 10th at COTA earlier this season and is looking for his first win of 2024 this weekend. Truex is currently the highest ranked driver in the series point standings without a win this season.

Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron is the most recent winner on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series, taking the trophy at the Circuit of The Americas back in March.

Truex can tie Jeff Gordon for most Cup wins at Sonoma

Heading into this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. is the highest ranked competitor in the point standings without a win this season, a distinction he is hoping to change this weekend. Truex, the defending winner of Sonoma Raceway, grabbed his fourth victory at the esteemed 1.99-mile road course moving him into second on the Cup Series Sonoma all-time wins list, just behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon’s five wins (1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2006). This Sunday, Truex will have a shot at tying Gordon’s Sonoma wins record in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

With a win this weekend at Sonoma, Truex would get his sixth NASCAR Cup Series career road course victory tying him with Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Richard Petty for third on the all-time series road course wins list.

Truex is currently riding a winless streak that is 31 races, dating back to last season’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway race on July 17, 2023.

Playoff Bubble Shuffle: Larson gets waiver, Cindric adds name to Playoff contenders

While Team Penske’s Austin Cindric was passing his teammate Ryan Blaney in the final laps at World Wide Technology Raceway to grab the win last weekend, several positions on the Playoff bubble started to shuffle. Cindric is ranked outside the top-16 in points, but his win catapults him into Playoff contention as one of the nine drivers that have earned a spot in the postseason.

In other Playoff news, Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson received a postseason waiver this week from NASCAR after he missed the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway due to participating in a rain-delayed Indianapolis 500. In total, two drivers have received waivers this season in the series Larson and Erik Jones (out two races due to back injury).

Heading to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, seven spots are up for grabs in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The 10 drivers that have earned a spot in the Playoffs by virtue of wins this season are Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric.

The seven drivers currently occupying the remaining postseason spots on points are 10. Martin Truex Jr. (+132 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff), 11. Ty Gibbs (+107 points ahead of the cutoff), 12. Alex Bowman (+59), 13. Ross Chastain (+59), 14. Ryan Blaney (+47), 15. Bubba Wallace (+13) and 16. Chris Buescher (+10).

Currently in 17th, the first spot outside the postseason cutoff, after a 17th-place finish at Word Wide Technology Raceway last weekend is Chase Briscoe, -10 points back from RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher in 16th — the final transfer spot on points to the Playoffs. Not far behind Briscoe are a pair of multiple Cup Series champions Joey Logano in 18th (14 points back from Buescher) and Kyle Busch in 19th (20 points back from Buescher).

Australian Invasion: Waters and Brown to attempt NASCAR Cup Series debuts at Sonoma

Flying over the Pacific Ocean this week from Australia to California are two competitors — Cam Waters and Will Brown — looking to make their NASCAR Cup Series career debuts this Sunday in the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Cam Waters is an established veteran of the Repco Australian Supercars Series with quite the resume. A championship runner-up in 2020 and ’22, the Victoria native has 11 career wins. Waters, 29, made his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway earlier this season and now has set his sights on the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma. Waters will pilot the №60 Ford for RFK Racing.

Cam Waters — Monster Energy Tickford Racing | V8 Supercars (Image Credit: camwaters.com.au )

Joining Waters this week is Repco Supercars Championship star Will Brown, a native of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, who will drive the №33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday. Brown currently leads the Supercars Championship point standings.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity to be able to come out and race at the highest level in America,” said Brown. “I am extremely thankful to Richard Childress and everyone at Richard Childress Racing for the opportunity. I’ve been interested in NASCAR since I started racing Supercars, and even more so since the recent wave of success that some international drivers have had crossing over into the NASCAR Cup Series.

ABOUT WILL BROWN: With championship wins in both the Australian Formula 4 and the Australian Toyota Racing Series in 2016, Brown became one of only five drivers in Australian motorsport history to achieve two national racing titles in one year.

I’ve got some great sponsors that have supported me for a long time in Australia, and I’m lucky enough that MobileX is joining us for the race, along with a long-term partner of mine, Shaw and Partners. Incredibly thankful also for Motorola and everyone else who has come on board for the race. It’s been massive to get everyone to support the program, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I’m looking forward to the race and have been working hard to prepare.”

Waters and Brown are not the only competitors from that side of the world to make the journey to the United States for a taste of NASCAR’s unique style of racing in recent years. Shane van Gisbergen and Brodie Kostecki both have roots in Supercars racing and made their Cup Series debuts a season ago, with SVG famously winning the inaugural Chicago Street Race with Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 program and beginning a full-time Xfinity Series campaign this season.

NASCAR’s Statistical Advance: Analyzing Driver Data for Sonoma Raceway

Top 16 in Driver Points, sorted by Points Position

(Same data set, sorted by Driver Rating)

SONOMA RACEWAY-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

(Driver stats in the below section are from 2005-Present)

AJ Allmendinger (№16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet)

· Three top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 22.083, 13th-best

· Average Running Position of 19.063, 13th-best

· Driver Rating of 83.5, eighth-best

· 658 Laps in the Top 15 (49.6%), 11th-most

Ryan Blaney (№12 Team Penske Ford)

· One top five, four top 10s

· Average Finish of 16.571, ninth-best

· Average Running Position of 15.950, 10th-best

· Driver Rating of 76.8, 12th-best

· 394 Laps in the Top 15 (53.8%), ninth-most

Chris Buescher (№17 RFK Racing Ford)

· Two top fives, two top 10s

· Average Finish of 14.143, fifth-best

· Average Running Position of 15.294, seventh-best

· Driver Rating of 81.9, ninth-best

· 415 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7%), seventh-most

Kyle Busch (№8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)

· Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s

· Average Finish of 14.778, seventh-best

· Average Running Position of 15.081, sixth-best

· Driver Rating of 93.3, fourth-best

· 1,198 Laps in the Top 15 (61.5%), fourth-most

William Byron (№24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· One top 10

· Average Finish of 20.400, 12th-best

· Average Running Position of 15.525, eighth-best

· Driver Rating of 76.7, 13th-best

· 280 Laps in the Top 15 (54.7%), eighth-most

Chase Elliott (№9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· Three top fives, five top 10s

· Average Finish of 12.143, second-best

· Average Running Position of 11.005, series-best

· Driver Rating of 97.9, third-best

· 513 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%), second-most

Denny Hamlin (№11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

· Four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 19.000, 11th-best

· Average Running Position of 16.595, 12th-best

· Driver Rating of 84.9, sixth-best

· 907 Laps in the Top 15 (49.3%), 12th-most

Brad Keselowski (№6 RFK Racing Ford)

· One top five, three top 10s

· Average Finish of 16.077, eighth-best

· Average Running Position of 16.372, 11th-best

· Driver Rating of 79.6, 11th-best

· 734 Laps in the Top 15 (52.7%), 10th-most

Kyle Larson (№5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)

· One win, one top five, three top 10s; four poles

· Average Finish of 14.333, sixth-best

· Average Running Position of 11.714, third-best

· Driver Rating of 92.2, fifth-best

· 664 Laps in the Top 15 (69.7%), third-most

Joey Logano (№22 Team Penske Ford)

· Four top fives, six top 10s; one pole

· Average Finish of 12.929, third-best

· Average Running Position of 14.052, fifth-best

· Driver Rating of 84.0, seventh-best

· 907 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), sixth-most

Daniel Suarez (№99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet)

· One win, one top five, one top 10

· Average Finish of 13.833, fourth-best

· Average Running Position of 15.730, ninth-best

· Driver Rating of 81.8, 10th-best

· 291 Laps in the Top 15 (46.8%), 13th-most

Martin Truex Jr. (№19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

· Four wins, six top fives, seven top 10s

· Average Finish of 16.706, 10th-best

· Average Running Position of 13.996, fourth-best

· Driver Rating of 98.5, series-best

· 1,122 Laps in the Top 15 (61.0%), fifth-most

Team Stats
A total of 13 different organizations have won at least one pole in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway; six of the 13 are active this weekend.

GO FULL THROTTLE NASCAR CUP SERIES BOX SCORES

GO FULL THROTTLE NASCAR FANTASY LIVE BOX SCORES

The Go Full Throttle #AI Race Prediction model delivered 164 points with the Enjoy Illinois 300 results in NASCAR Fantasy Live — TMD NASCAR League play. GFT AI 1 is now in 703rd place vs 4,622 players in the #TMDNASCAR league, dropping outside the Top 10 at 15.20% vs all players.

Initial GFT NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks for the Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

**NOTE** Be sure to follow us on X (aka Twitter) to see the updated GFT NASCAR Fantasy Live picks AFTER our AI models ingest the Practice and Qualifying data. For a Sunday race, this usually happens overnight Saturday and is published Sunday morning at least 2 hours before the green flag.

--

--

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association