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TEAM CHEVY NASCAR RACE ADVANCE: Sonoma Raceway

TEAM CHEVY ADVANCE
Sonoma Raceway
June 8-9, 2024

 The NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) will make the trek out west to rejoin the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) for a doubleheader weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Located within the pristine southern Sonoma mountains, the 1.99-mile road course will deliver a whole new set of challenges as drivers and teams in NASCAR’s two top series will hit the circuit for the first time since the repave that was completed earlier this year.

This weekend will mark just the second road course event for NASCAR’s premier series this season, as well as the second-straight, and third overall, for the NXS in 2024. A common denominator among each of those events is the winning manufacturer as Chevrolet drivers have claimed the victories in each of the NCS and NXS road course races thus far this season.


Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway:

Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 will mark the NASCAR Cup Series’ 35th appearance at Sonoma Raceway. The 1.99-mile northern California road course is yet another track that Chevrolet holds the all-time win record in NASCAR’s top division, with the Bowtie brand heading into the weekend with 13 all-time victories at the circuit. Eight different drivers have contributed to those victories, led by career Chevrolet driver Jeff Gordon with five triumphs – a record that still stands today. Two active Team Chevy drivers have reached victory lane in NASCAR’s top division at Sonoma Raceway, including Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (2021) and Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez (2022).

TOPPING IN THE NEXT GEN ERA

Since the beginning of the Next Gen era in 2022, the NASCAR Cup Series has contested 12 road course events. Team Chevy’s William Byron took the Bowtie brand to victory lane in the series’ most recent road course race at Circuit of The Americas in March 2024, giving Chevrolet its eighth NCS road course win in the Next Gen era. Byron is one of six different Team Chevy drivers to earn a road course victory in the Next Gen Camaro ZL1, with others including Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson (one win), Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger (one win), Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez (one win each), and Tyler Reddick with Richard Childress Racing (two wins).

CALIFORNIANS WITH SONOMA SUCCESS

A handful of California natives have a history success in the NASCAR national ranks at Sonoma Raceway, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger.

A native of Vallejo, California, career Chevrolet driver Jeff Gordon has notched a series-best five NASCAR Cup Series victories at Sonoma Raceway. Gordon also continues to hold the record in a variety of statistical measures at the Northern California circuit, including average finishing position (8.3), runner-up finishes (five), top-fives (14), top-10s (18), laps led (457) and pole wins (five). Throughout his storied career in NASCAR’s top division, Gordon earned the title as the winningest road course driver in series’ history with nine all-time victories – a record he still holds today.

Elk Grove, California, native Kyle Larson earned his first career NCS road course victory at Sonoma Raceway in 2021. Since that victory, the former series’ champion is a four-time road course winner in NASCAR’s top division – also tallying two victories at Watkins Glen International (2021 and 2022) and one victory at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2021). In nine career NCS starts at his home track of Sonoma Raceway, Larson has notched one top-five, three top-10s and four poles. Larson also holds the series’ qualifying record at the 1.99-mile circuit – set in his sophomore season in NASCAR’s top division (2015).

On tap to pull double duty in a pair of Kaulig Racing Chevrolet’s, AJ Allmendinger has become a road course ringer in the NASCAR national ranks. The Los Gatos, California, native has 14 career road course victories at the NASCAR national level, including all three of his NCS victories (Watkins Glen International – 2014; Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course – 2021; Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course – 2023). Allmendinger has also tallied 11 career NXS road course victories, earning the record as the only driver in series’ history to produce a double-digit win count on road courses.

CROWNS AT EVERY CONFIGURATION

With the second-half of the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season underway, Chevrolet continues to lead the series with seven victories in 15 points-paying races. Unique to its manufacturer competitors, the Bowtie brand has already earned a victory on every race track configuration that the series competes at this season, including two wins at superspeedway/drafting-style ovals (Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway), three wins at intermediate-style ovals (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway), one road course win (Circuit of The Americas) and one short-track win (Martinsville Speedway).

VAN GISBERGEN GETS ANOTHER ‘FIRST’

Shane van Gisbergen became a first-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series after piloting his No. 97 Kaulig Racing Camaro SS to a hard-fought victory at Portland International Raceway last weekend. The three-time Australian Supercars Champion is the fifth different Team Chevy driver to earn an automatic playoff berth by virtue of a win. In his short stint in the NASCAR national ranks, van Gisbergen has proven to be a force to be reckoned with when making left- and right-hand turns, with the Team Chevy driver also scoring a history-making victory in the NASCAR Cup Series’ inaugural Chicago Street Race last season.

Team Chevy drivers head into the series’ third road course appearance this season with unmatched momentum. In addition to a pair of victories, the Bowtie brand has earned both pole wins (Kyle Larson at Circuit of The Americas; Sam Mayer at Portland International Raceway), three of the four stage wins, and seven top-10 finishes in each road course race.

BROWN SET FOR NASCAR CUP SERIES DEBUT

Repco Supercars Championship points leader, Will Brown, will make the jump from his No. 87 Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet to the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at Sonoma Raceway for his first career NASCAR Cup Series start. The 25-year-old Toowoomba, Queensland, native filled the seat of the Triple Eight Race Engineering Chevrolet following Shane van Gisbergen’s transition into full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competition. Brown will be the second Australian Supercars star to make his series’ debut behind Richard Childress Racing’s third entry – joining the likes of Brodie Kostecki, who piloted the No. 33 Camaro ZL1 to an 11th place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course last season.

BOWTIE BULLETS:

· With 41 races complete across NASCAR’s three national series this season, Chevrolet has a winning percentage of 56.1% with 23 victories (NASCAR Cup Series – seven wins; NASCAR Xfinity Series – eight wins; NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – eight wins).

· Victories by active Chevrolet drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway:

Kyle Busch – two wins (2015, 2008)

Daniel Suarez – one win (2022)

Kyle Larson – one win (2021)

· Chevrolet has recorded 65 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins on road courses – starting with Buck Baker at Watkins Glen International in 1957.

· Chevrolet has earned 18 victories in the past 23 NASCAR Cup Series road course events – dating from Chase Elliott’s victory at Watkins Glen International in August 2019, to William Byron’s victory at the Circuit of The Americas in March 2024.

· Within that time span, Chevrolet notched a streak of 11 consecutive road course wins in the NASCAR Cup Series – dating from Chase Elliott’s victory at Circuit of The Americas in May 2021, to Kyle Larson’s victory at Watkins Glen International in August 2022.

· In 12 NASCAR Cup Series road course races in the Next Gen era, Chevrolet leads the series with eight victories – recorded by six drivers from four different Chevrolet organizations.

· In 87 points-paying races in the Next Gen era, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 44 victories – a winning percentage of 50.6%.

· Team Chevy’s William Byron is the only driver to have a double-digit win record in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen era – with his victory at Martinsville Speedway marking his 11th all-time victory in the Next Gen Camaro ZL1.

· With its 42 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships, 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships, and 858 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet continues to hold the title as the winningest brand in NASCAR Cup Series history.

Manufacturer Points Standings

Toyota: 545
Chevrolet: 542 (-3)
Ford: 513 (-32)

Manufacturer Points Standings

Chevrolet: 490
Toyota: 457 (-33)
Ford: 406 (-84)

Manufacturer Points Standings

Chevrolet: 458
Toyota: 425 (-33)
Ford: 384 (-74)

TUNE-IN:

NASCAR Cup Series

Toyota / Save Mart 350

Sunday, June 9, at 3:30 p.m. ET

(FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Zip Buy Now, Pay Later 250

Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. ET

(FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90)


QUOTABLE QUOTES:

ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 KUBOTA CAMARO ZL1

How was the Sonoma test for you?

“Fast. We were around three seconds faster than the track record. Now, they have patched and repaved several spots since I’ve been there. SVG went recently with the wheel force car and he had different feedback in some corners from different things they had patched and repaved. When we were there it was all one coat and then right after we left they started changing it. It’s really fast and the asphalt is very fresh and dark.”

Did you take anything away from your teammate winning at the Sonoma road course?

“Absolutely. Daniel and I train closer than I ever have with a teammate. Part of that was because early on I didn’t do any of that. I’ve found that Daniel and I really line up well and so we talk about it almost daily about different tracks, philosophies and things like that. Especially on road courses there’s so much to gain from him.”

How important is track position going to be at Sonoma because it may be hard to pass?

“Normally on repaves you just run the shortest distance but with SMI and these repaves they’ve done a unique and I think a good job of their approach. I think we all saw that at North Wilkesboro. They’re doing it different and you’re seeing some growing pains with Sonoma but they’re working on it and they’ll get it figured out. Sonoma is not going to be the same track as when I tested, or when Shane (Van Gisbergen) tested so we’ll see how it is when we get there this weekend.”

AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 GET BIOETHANOL CAMARO ZL1

How do you prepare for Sonoma Raceway?

“We prepare for Sonoma Raceway by spending a lot of hours on the Chevrolet simulator. I could probably run Sonoma in my sleep. We’ve put a lot of effort into this race. I can’t wait to get there in the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet Camaro. It’s a fun road course and the recent repave of the full course will test everyone’s setup during practice on Friday.”

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 ZONE CAMARO ZL1

Sonoma has been repaved for the first time in 23 years. What are some of the challenges that you expect with the new asphalt?

“I would say some of the challenges with new asphalt is the difficulty in passing. There’s going to be so much grip that it’ll be hard to find any sort of advantage over guys. There won’t be much tire fall off. I would say that a repave on a road course differs from an oval just based off of the tire and tire choice that is determined.”

Do you think the new pavement will radically change how you race at Sonoma?

“Normally at ovals they have to come out with such a hard tire and at a road course I don’t think you have to have as hard of a tire for heat reasons. I do not think the new payment will radically change anything at Sonoma because they’re still going to be pit strategy and fuel strategy involved. You’ll still run the race like a typical road course from the finish and back your strategy up from there.”

You ran really well last year at Sonoma, scoring a second-place finish at leading 17 laps. Is there anything you can take from that strong performance and apply it to this race?

“We did have a really good run last year at Sonoma, but with the track being repaved and constant change happening around the series with this new car, I don’t think anything really applies from last year specifically to this year. Obviously just having laps around Sonoma for the last 20 years is helpful.”

AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 CIRKUL CAMARO ZL1

“I always look forward to racing at my home racetrack. It’s going to be a new challenge with the repave but I’m excited to get on track in both the Cup and Xfinity car.”

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY PRIDE CAMARO ZL1

Bowman on racing at the newly repaved Sonoma Raceway:

“It (Sonoma Raceway) is going to be completely different than what we’ve ever seen there- or at least what I’ve seen there. Going to a place that’s always been really slick, I feel like it (the track) is probably going to have a ton of grip and be a lot faster with a lot less tire fall off. It’s kind of a different style race. I think qualifying is going to be super important. Hopefully our Ally Racing team can position ourselves to fall on the right side of all that.”

BLAKE HARRIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY PRIDE CAMARO ZL1

Harris on driver Alex Bowman racing at road courses and competing at the newly repaved Sonoma Raceway:

“The fact that we are sitting top 10 in points at this point in the season is great. Our Ally Racing team just needs to go to Sonoma and have a solid weekend. We’ve had a lot of good runs and good pace at road courses this year. Really, Alex does great at these tracks (road courses). I think this weekend is kind of a reset for everybody. Not a lot of people have been on (Sonoma Raceway’s) new pavement and we as a team need to go capitalize on that and put a full race together. We let a few extra points slip away last weekend (at World Wide Technology Raceway) with some issues that we had- so hopefully we can go get back on track and earn a good finish this Sunday.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 FREEWAY INSURANCE CAMARO ZL1

Have you started preparing for the repaved Sonoma Raceway?

“Yes and it is going to be fast. We did a little bit of preparation last week and it was very quick. It’s going to be a different weekend because we are going to have a full practice on Friday before qualifying. It’s going to be nice to get some extra laps in and work on some things.”

Thoughts on returning to Sonoma?

“Definitely excited, man. Every time we head to a road course, whether it’s Sonoma (Raceway), or somewhere else, I am excited. I feel at home and I am excited to go back to a place where we had great memories and hopefully we can repeat it.”

Thoughts on your team’s progress?

“My team has been doing a good job and I feel like we have been learning a lot this last month. I don’t think we have shown how strong the No. 99 is just yet. Hopefully we can show that in the next two months.”

What do you remember about winning the 2022 race in Sonoma?

“It was such a crazy day and I had so many thoughts in my head. I mean, it was a rough road getting to victory lane but that moment was so worth it. Not just for me but for my family, Julia, these guys believe in me – Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks, Ty Norris. Everyone that helped me to get to this point. A lot of people in Mexico. My family, they never give up on me. A lot of people did, but they didn’t. I was just very happy we were able to make it work.”

What were the final laps like in 2022?

“I was just trying to stay calm. I knew that it was a big stake on the line, but I was trying to stay calm. I was silent. I wanted to do my thing. I didn’t want too much noise on the radio. I knew what I had to do. I would say after the white flag is when I got out of control. I just start crying inside the helmet, just thinking about it. Especially because I had a big gap. If it wasn’t a big gap, I would be focused. Since I had a big gap, I was just thinking about every single moment that has cost me to be here.

It’s been a different journey. Every NASCAR driver has had a tough journey. Everyone has a different journey. But my journey is definitely the most different of everyone else, leaving my family, my country, and just coming to a different culture, different language. Thinking of all those things, it makes it very, very, very special.”


Chevrolet NASCAR Cup Series Statistics

Manufacturers Championships:

Total (1949-2023): 42

First title for Chevrolet: 1958

Highest number of consecutive titles: 13 (2003-15)

Years Won: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2022, 2023

Drivers Championships:

Total (1949-2021): 33

First Chevrolet champion: Buck Baker (1957)

Highest number of consecutive titles: 7 (2005-11)

Most Recent: Kyle Larson (2021)

Years Won: 1957, 1960, 1961, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2020, 2021

Event Victories:

Record for total race wins in single season: 26 (2007)

2024 STATISTICS:

Wins: 7

Poles: 5

Laps Led: 1,406

Top-five finishes: 27

Top-10 finishes: 57

Stage wins: 10

· Chase Elliott: 1

· Kyle Larson: 7

· Ross Chastain: 1

· William Byron: 1

CHEVROLET IN NASCAR CUMULATIVE STATISTICS:

Total Chevrolet race wins: 858 (1949 to date)

Poles won to date: 748

Laps led to date: 250,581

Top-five finishes to date: 4,325

Top-10 finishes to date: 8,917

Total NASCAR Cup Wins by Corporation, 1949 to Date:

       General Motors: 1,192

       Chevrolet: 858

       Pontiac: 154

       Oldsmobile: 115

       Buick: 65



       Ford: 830                                                           

       Ford: 730

       Mercury: 96

       Lincoln: 4



       Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: 467

       Dodge: 217

       Plymouth: 191

       Chrysler: 59



       Toyota: 186


About Chevrolet

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands. Chevrolet models include electric and fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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