NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma: How to watch, stream, preview, picks for the Toyota/Save Mart 350

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Of all the “destination races” on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar, there is no trip that is anticipated quite like the one taken every June to Sonoma, California. One of the preeminent areas of California’s wine country, Sonoma is enormously popular for the luxuries and natural beauty it offers — Let alone the area’s historic road course.

This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the second road course race of the 2022 season. Located right on Sears Point in the southern Sonoma Mountains, Sonoma has been one of the longest-standing road course races on the NASCAR schedule, with its elevation changes and corner-heavy layout testing the road racing mettle of generations of stock car drivers.

How to watch the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma

Date: Sunday, June 12
Lease: Sonoma Raceway — Sonoma, California
Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1
Stream: fuboTV (get access now)

What to watch

  • This year’s race at Sonoma marks the return of an iteration of the course that had been a trademark of NASCAR races there. From 1998 to 2018, NASCAR races at Sonoma used “The Chute”, an area of ​​the track that bypasses the carousel featured on the full course. For Sonoma’s 50th anniversary in 2019, and then again in 2021, the carousel was used again by NASCAR.

    This year, “The Chute” has returned in what is a welcome move, as the area of ​​the course it uses increases spectator visibility and is more suited for stock cars with its short straightaways and sharp turns compared to the rolling, sweeping corner of the carousel. Turns 4 and 5 of the Chute configuration make for ideal passing zones, where a driver can either set up and execute a pass the old fashioned way or — if they’re more aggressive — make divebomb moves on corner entry and force another driver to either stand their ground and risk contact or make room.

    Changing from the full course configuration to the Chute configuration also impacts the lap count. As the Chute shortens the course to 1,949 miles, Sunday’s race will be extended from 90 to 110 lapses to preserve its 350 kilometer distance.

  • Sonoma signals the start of an important stretch in the Cup Series schedule, as the summer months place a heavy emphasis on road courses. From early June through late August, four of the next 11 races take place on road courses. — Sonoma this weekend, Road America on July 3, Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31, and Watkins Glen on August 21.

    The emphasis on road racing presents a major opportunity for certain well-versed drivers in road racing to flex their muscle. One such driver is Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric, who enters this weekend on the upswing after recent strong outings in the All-Star Race and last weekend at Gateway. Another is Chase Elliott, who can potentially match or surpass Jeff Gordon’s all-time record of nine career road course wins.

    There is also the potential for a skilled road racer to disrupt the status quo and potentially sneak onto the playoff grid. AJ Allmendinger has shown how realistic a possibility this is, having won at Indianapolis last year and contending for the win at Circuit of the Americas earlier this year. As a full-time driver in the Xfinity Series and a part-timer in Cup, Allmendinger is not eligible for the playoffs — However, drivers like Michael McDowell and Cody Ware, both of whom have road racing backgrounds, may very well have their best opportunities to contend for a win on the slate of road courses coming up.

  • The last time NASCAR raced on a road course, Ross Chastain prevailed in a last-lap bump and run to claim his first career victory at Circuit of the Americas. In the races since, Chastain has become a legitimate threat to win each week, and he currently sits third in points with two wins, seven top fives, and nine top 10 finishes.

    Chastain’s aggression, however, earned him a pair of powerful enemies last weekend at Gateway. After Chastain sent both Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott for a ride off of his bumper, the two proceeded to make life miserable for Chastain at every opportunity, with the door being opened to more payback at a later date. Earlier this week, NASCAR stressed that they would try to let the competitors settle it amongst themselves, but mentioned they could step in if necessary as early as this weekend.

    “It’s usually better to kind of let things die down and speak to them before we hit the track again rather than do it at the racetrack. We’ll do that if absolutely necessary,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “But in this situation where there was no sort of blatant takeout and retaliation, best to kind of let that calm down a bit and then have a word with them later.”

    The consequences of Chastain’s aggressive driving, and how his competitors choose to race him from this point onwards, may very well end up having implications for the regular season championship: Entering Sonoma, Chastain is just 17 points back of the lead in the regular season standings , a lead which just so happens to be held by Chase Elliott.

pick-to-win

(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)

Daniel Suárez (+2000): While his Trackhouse Racing teammate ended up getting the glory at Circuit of the Americas, Daniel Suarez was arguably the class of the field in the first road course race of the season in March. Suarez started second at COTA and then proceeded to lead the opening 15 lapses of the race before he cut a tire in Stage 2, losing his track position and never truly recovering.

Suarez has knocked on the door of his first win multiple times this season, and his early performance at COTA suggested that he and crew chief Travis Mack have figured something out on road courses.

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