Kyle Larson wins Sonoma, Expands lead in GFT AI Rankings, Driver Points, and Playoff Standings

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
4 min readJun 11, 2024

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

SONOMA, CA — A caution filled first half of the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway led to many different tire and fuel strategies through the field. Joey Logano was on pole and held the lead early. Then road course ace Tyler Reddick took control of the race and led 35 laps and won Stage 1. Stage 2 saw Chris “Big Tex” Buescher grab the lead for Ford and RFK Racing, ultimately winning the 2nd stage. But as the race strategies played out during Stage 3, it was Cliff Daniels calling the shots for the Hendrick Motorsports No.5 Chevrolet team and driver Kyle Larson who put together the winning formula.

Tyler Reddick, driver of the №45 Monster Energy Toyota, and Kyle Larson, driver of the №5 Valvoline Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo Credit: Logan Riely-Getty Images)

Larson led 19 of the 110 laps in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, and he claimed his second win on the 1.99-mile road course by 4.258 seconds. His third win of the season also marked the 26th of his Cup Series career. The podium was Larson, Michael McDowell P2, and Chris “Big Tex” Buescher P3.

Kyle Larson, driver of the №5 Valvoline Chevrolet, drinks wine in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo Credit: Brittney Wilbur-NASCAR Digital Media)
Kyle Larson spits out wine in celebration of his Cup Series win at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo Credit: Meg Oliphant-Getty Images)

Cliff Daniels pit strategy was spot on, setting up Larson with 13 lap fresher tires in the final green-flag stretch, enabling him to power by Martin Truex Jr. and Buescher at Lap 102 to take the lead and win. Truex, who recovered from an early spin, was in position to finish P2, but his №19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota ran out of fuel within sight of the checkered flag. He used the starter motor to lurch the car across the line, dropping all the way down to 27th.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the №19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, crosses the start/finish line after running out of fuel on the final lap of the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. (Image Credit: Logan Riely-Getty Images)

LARSON WIN EXPANDS LEAD GFT RANKINGS

Go Full Throttle Top 25 NASCAR AI Driver Rankings following the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 9, 2024 at Sonoma Raceway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

It was a tough day for Joe Gibbs Racing, but for Hamlin and Truex Jr., their points cushion prevented any change in their rankings. No change in the top 4 order. Blaney, Elliott, Chastain, and Busch move up- as did both Ryan Preece and Erik Jones entering the Top 25.

JGR/Toyota Engine Failure … AGAIN!

Last week Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell suffered an engine issue (lost a cylinder) in the closing laps at Gateway. This week it was JGR driver Denny Hamlin who suffered a complete engine failure on Lap 2.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, suffers a catastrophic engine failure during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 09, 2024 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Go Full Throttle NASCAR Box Scores after Sonoma

Go Full Throttle NASCAR BOX SCORES following the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 9, 2024 at Sonoma Raceway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

After 16 Races …
Manufactures Box Score:
Chevrolet = 8
Toyota = 6
Ford = 2

Team Box Score:
Hendrick Motorsports = 7

Driver Box Score:
Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Denny Hamlin are tied with 3 wins each

GFT AI NASCAR FANTASY LIVE RACE PREDICTION MODELS

The GFT AI prediction models received a bit of model tuning and machine learning updates for the 2nd half of the season. The “asset allocation” algorithm continues to “learn” and the models improved this week with 193 points and back into the top 15% of all players (4,626).

UP NEXT:

NEXT RACE — IOWA CORN 350 POWERED BY ETHANOL
SUNDAY, JUN. 16–7:00 PM ET
IOWA SPEEDWAY

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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