This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.
We leave the ovals behind yet again this week and head to the twisting turns as the NASCAR Cup Series will make its third stop of the season on a road course. Sonoma Raceway in California plays host to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 this Sunday afternoon.
Sonoma Raceway is a 2.52-mile, 12-turn road course with many elevation changes and several types of corners. The long, relatively straight runs are abruptly ended by many sharp corners, so horsepower and brakes are very important. One lap around Sonoma incurs a total of 160 feet in elevation change, so this course is very hard on the driver and equipment. The 180-degree carrousel turn before the start/finish line provides many passing opportunities to those drivers who can drive in deep and out-brake their opponents. Other than the carrousel turn, the drivers have to be on their toes for any opportunity to make a pass. These characteristics make it a tough course for the oval track drivers, because they will struggle to find passing opportunities.
This will be NASCAR's first visit to the state of California since the pandemic began. The last time NASCAR raced in the state was in March 2020 for the Auto Club 400 at Fontana. The sanctioning body completely skipped the Sonoma date due to the health crisis, so this event will be our first time racing at Sonoma Raceway since June of 2019. The learning curve will be steep and the readjustment may take some time. Fortunately for the drivers of