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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Larson dominates field at Sonoma; Wins Toyota Save Mart 350

Sonoma Raceway held the Toyota Save Mart 350 yesterday for the first time in more than 700 days. They kicked off the festivities early with the historic Trans-AM race which was an incredible race to watch. The Trans-AMs looked exactly like they did in the late 1960s. The Trans-AM races have a historic meaning to Sonoma, as they offered a place where Northern California NASCAR fans could go and see the same type of cars driven by NASCAR drivers without having to make the trip to Riverside or Ontario. Sonoma countinued with the Patriots air show which is an air show made up of 6 F-35s being piloted by former USAF and US Navy pilots. The crew operating the F-35s yesterday was made up of former Thunderbird pilots and one Blue Angel pilot.

Above: A Stunt from Patriots Air Show

Sonoma then did the driver intros before doing the prayer and the national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner was ended with an amazing flyover. We got to racing after the call from Grand Marshall and 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. Food Network Chef Guy Fieri drove the pace car that led Kyle Larson to the starting line. Larson started on the inside, and immediately got ahead of Elliott by a long way, and held the lead until he pitted on lap 10.

ABOVE: Green Green Green

Drivers that had problems early included Christopher Bell and Garrett Smithley. Bell was in the pits for a bit of time while Smithley just had problems keeping up with the field. After the competition caution on lap 10, Kyle Larson pitted and regained the lead easily as Hamlin pitted on lap 12, and Larson chose the inside lane (left lane) on the restart. He stretched the lead enormously, and took Stage 1.

Larson pitted and restarted in 13th while Kurt Busch took the lead, and started on the inside to start Stage 2. William Byron took the lead away from Kurt Busch and held the lead with Larson 3.5 seconds behind in 2nd as Busch started to drop. On Lap 32, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall on the right side on Turn 1, recked his car, and on Lap 33, Byron pitted, but Larson stayed out to get the 1 spot. He restarted on the inside, and held the 1 spot throughout the rest of the stage to get another stage win.

ABOVE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pitting

Larson held the lead until Lap 42 when he pitted and Kurt Busch took the lead. Busch took the lhe inside and led until Chase Elliott took the lead in Turn 11. Kyle Larson and Martin Truex were advancing in the field fast, and hung around in the Top 5 with Larson behind Truex before Larson going past Truex in Lap 52. Larson trekked into 2nd by Lap 53, but was 5 seconds behind the lead. Green flag pit stops started and chaos insued. Larson pitted in lap 64 after taking back the lead in lap 58. A couple drivers took and lost the lead before Kyle Larson stole it back in Lap 69. Caution insued with 29 to go as Quin Houff stopped on the track. Larson pitted, Logano took the lead and started on the inside with Reddick on the outside. Larson took back the lead with 24 to go, and held a massive lead on the rest of the drivers. In Lap 77, a massive crash happened when Corey LaJoie spun, Chastain ran into him, and Kevin Havick ran into Chastain which caused a reck that effected William Byron, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell, and Erik Jones. Byron's car never recovered and was taken out while Kevin Harvick's hood was cut off, but other than that, everyone stayed in the race. Kyle Larson stretched his lead out more and more after the restart, but in Lap 86, Ryan Preece spun out in the dust and Cody Ware ran into him because he could not see due to a massive dust cloud caused by the spin out. Larson went off on the restart, but Anthony Alfredo spun out, causing caution and OT. Larson took the inside on the restart and took off, but Elliott was gaining. Larson crossed the finish line first, though, with Elliott 0.6 seconds behind him.

ABOVE: Kyle Larson wins at Sonoma

Larson is from Elk Grove, California, which makes Sonoma his home track. He won an ARCA race in 2014 in Sonoma which was his introduction to the race. He won the poll 4 years in a row including this year, and has always been very fast at Sonoma Raceway. He had the fastest lap at 91.226 MPH while Garrett Smithley had the slowest lap at 86.142 MPH. The race win was very big for Larson as he won in front of his home crowd. Everytime Larson passed someone or retook the lead, he recieved an ovation. He received a huge standing ovation when he crossed the finish line to win. Larson performed amazingly and received 60 points from the race. Everyone is now going to get to Texas to get ready for the All Star Race.

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