After a one-week hiatus, the NASCAR Cup Series is back in action out west at Sonoma Raceway. Clint Bowyer is hoping to secure back-to-back victories after taking the checkered flag under rainy conditions at Michigan two weeks ago, while others look to join him, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon in the playoffs.

Truex led nearly every lap in Stage 1 after taking the lead from pole-starter Kyle Larson, but decided to play strategy and pit before the green-and-white checkered, allowing road-ringer AJ Allmendinger to earn his first stage victory of the season. Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Larson finished the stage in the top five. 

Heartbreak for Allmendinger struck halfway through the second stage, when the No. 47 driver missed a shift and blew his engine. Allmendinger needed to be towed off the racetrack as his day ended prematurely.

Again, the leaders came into the pits at the end of the stage in an effort to win the race. Harvick was in position to win the stage, but chose to get tires alongside Truex and Bowyer with three to go. Denny Hamlin assumed the race lead and drove on to win his second stage of the year. Elliott finished the stage second followed by Johnson, Keselowski and Blaney. 

How to watch the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

Location: Sonoma Raceway
Date: Sunday, June 24
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Length: 110 laps/350 miles
Stage 1: Ends on lap 25
Stage 2: Ends on lap 50
Final stage: Scheduled for lap 110
Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free) 

Drivers who have already secured a playoff spot

  • Kevin Harvick (5 wins)
  • Kyle Busch (4 wins)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (2 wins)
  • Clint Bowyer (2 wins)
  • Joey Logano (1 win)
  • Austin Dillon (1 win)

For all action, including highlights, analysis and more, follow along with our live blog. If the live blog isn’t working for you, click here

Stage 1: Truex takes control out west

Larson started from the pole and led the first few laps before surrendering the top spot to Truex Jr. Larson fell back to third as road-ringer AJ Allmendinger moved into second. Truex, the last driver to win at a road course (Watkins Glen), showed dominance early on, continuing to build the lead once he got it as Harvick took second from Allmendinger.

Harvick’s teammate Bowyer showed promise early on, moving up inside the top five after qualifying 19th while Erik Jones suffered some heavy damage, getting into Michael McDowell as things got started. He was able to drive on competitively without caution. 

As Jimmie Johnson moved into the top five, Truex continued to lead Harvick. The leaders then decided to pit with two to go in the stage, forfeiting the lead over to Allmendinger, who drove on to claim his first green-and-white checkered.

Stage 1 results

  1. AJ Allmendinger (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Brad Keselowski (9 points)
  3. Jimmie Johnson (8 points)
  4. Chase Elliott (7 points)
  5. Kyle Larson (6 points)
  6. Ryan Newman (5 points)
  7. Aric Almirola (4 points)
  8. Daniel Suarez (3 points)
  9. Chris Buescher (2 points)
  10. Kasey Kahne (1 point)

Stage 2: Truex and Harvick dominate again

While Truex wasn’t able to win Stage 1, his and Harvick’s strategy allowed them to start Stage 2 from the front row. While the No. 78 began building another lead, Stage 1 winner Allmendinger missed a shift and saw his engine blow. Allmendinger had to be towed to the garage as the first incident related caution flag of the day flew.

Jamie McMurray also suffered mechanical issues around the same time and had to be pushed to the garage. McMurray started the race inside the top five and was having a solid afternoon.

Truex led the field to green on the restart with Harvick in his rearview. With less than 10 to go in the stage, Harvick took the lead from the No. 78 for the first time. While the No. 4 could have easily gone on to win the stage, again the leaders opted to pit before the end in an effort to win the race.

After Truex, Harvick and Bowyer pitted, Hamlin assumed the race lead and drove on to win his second stage of the season. 

Stage 2 results

  1. Denny Hamlin (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Chase Elliott (9 points)
  3. Jimmie Johnson (8 points)
  4. Brad Keselowski (7 points)
  5. Ryan Blaney (6 points)
  6. Aric Almirola (5 points) 
  7. Alex Bowman (4 points) 
  8. Ryan Newman (3 points) 
  9. Michael McDowell (2 points) 
  10. Chris Buescher (1 point)
Source link