Kyle Larson wins Pole in Sonoma
Updated: Jun 30
Insanely, for the 4th year in a row, Kyle Larson has done the unthinkable, and won the poll at Sonoma. Larson will lead the field on Sunday because he won in Charlotte. Why? The race was a "show up and race race" without qualifying. Hendrick Motorsports are going to be leading the top 3 with Larson, Chase Elliott, and William Byron. They will also have Alex Bowman starting at 7. Joe Gibbs Racing has the other 2 positions in the top 5 with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Defending champ Martin Truex Jr. is starting 19th.
A lot of drivers are looking forward to this race, especially drivers from Northern California. Matt DiBenedetto is from Grass Valley, California, and in an interview with the local newspaper in Sonoma County, he said this about possibly winning:
That would be incredible, if I could pick a race to win. That would be very special to me. That would be up there on the top of the list because of the family aspect of it and being back where I grew up. That’s super special to me. Hopefully we can make it happen.
He also said that it's hard to stay in NASCAR with so many teams and drivers moving around. He mentioned how he was shoved from the 95 car at Levine Family Racing and signed with the Wood Brothers to drive the 21 car. He had a great 2020, but hasn't been as great in 2021. He will try to get the win for Grass Valley. He had this to say about road course races and his car during them:
We don’t have the time to tune on the car and get that feel I need. Obviously, we’ll just keep working on it and keep working on changes each road course race.
For a lot of drivers, only a win, gives them a playoff spot. 12 spots have already been filled by the 12 drivers who have won a race. This is not great for Denny Hamlin who is at the top of the playoff standings with 633 playoff points and 9 top 5s, but without a win. He a driver for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), who have done very well in their history at Sonoma Raceway, and is my prediction to win the race . Hamlin had an outstanding 2020, and was fighting Kevin Harvick for the whole regular season. Hamlin lost in the championship to Chase Elliott, though, which ended the season and his 2020 championship hopes. Hamlin is yet to get a win in 2021, but has had an incredible year. He has raced beautifully, leading the 11 car and FedEx through tragedies like the Indianapolis shooting and COVID 19.
Sonoma is also important to drivers without a win, because it's their last chance to get directly into the All Star Race which will be at Texas on June 13th. The All Star Race will start with the All Star Open at 3 PM. There are already 12 drivers in the All Star Race, so the field in the Open is going to be a little bit slimmer than usual. All the drivers are going to fight to the checkered flag to get in.
Here are my Top 10 Predictions for the Toyota Save Mart 350
Martin Truex Jr.