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  • Writer's pictureHugo Traverso

Sonoma Raceway gearing up for biggest event in Sonoma County since lockdown

NASCAR is coming to Sonoma County on June 6th, as Sonoma Raceway will be gearing up for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. This will be the largest event in Sonoma County since the end of lockdown as it will hold more than 23,500 people in under 2 weeks. NASCAR is coming off their first ever race at Circuit of the Americas which Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Champion, won. COTA (Circuit of the Americas) was built in Austin, Texas, and was built for Formula 1 primarily. Elliott beat out Kyle Larson at COTA for his 6th road course win. There are 3 main types of NASCAR tracks:

  • Tri-Oval: A tri-oval has 4 turns with 2 long straightaways and 2 sets of turns. Most popular tri-oval: Daytona International Speedway

  • Road Course: A Road Course has multiple turns and does not have many long straightaways which causes drivers to drive slowly. They show the skill of a driver. Most Popular: COTA

  • Oval/Short Track: Short Tracks are normally a ½ mile, and are so condensed that the pit lane wraps around the track. Most Popular: Martinsville Speedway

  • There are a ton more kinds of tracks like the paperclip oval, D-shaped oval, city course (NASCAR doesn’t use this anymore), roval, and more.

Sonoma Raceway is a road course that was built in 1969 and welcomed NASCAR in 1989 which ended in Ricky Rudd taking the checkered flag. You may hear it called Sears Point International Speedway as that had been its name after it was built, and because it was built at Sears Point. The course is a 2.52 mile road course when they use the carousel. NASCAR used the carousel, which added more than .5 miles to the already amazing road course. They used the carousel from 1989 to 1997, but shut it down after that, electing to use chute. On June 23, 2019, the track celebrated its 50th anniversary with the Toyota-Save Mart 350, by bringing back the carousel for the race. Martin Truex Jr. won in amazing fashion, and believe me, the race came down to the line... I was there. The race was sadly cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The race is relatively short, being 90 laps, with 20 laps in each of the first 2 stages, which leaves a long 50 laps as part of stage 3. The race is 226.8 miles long, and there aren’t many cautions, which leads to a fun race with green flag pit stops.

The Toyota-Save Mart 350 is returning this year, but after the longest race of the NASCAR season. The Coca-Cola 600, which is always on Memorial Day Weekend and is 600 miles, is held in Concord, North Carolina, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race is 400 laps, and drivers work really hard in Concord at the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval to take one of the NASCAR “Grand Slam” races. The NASCAR Grand Slam consists of the Daytona 500, Geico 500, Coca-Cola 600, and Cook-Out Southern 500. The one other race that is considered a NASCAR Major is the Brickyard 400 at IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway).

Predictions next week!

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