Kyle Larson sweeps three stages to earn a win at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday.
The NASCAR Cup Series finally returns to racing at Sonoma Raceway. The 2020 race at this historic road course was canceled due to Coved-19 restrictions. The NASCAR Cup Series was finally able to come back and put on a show for fans in the stands. In a season packed with road course races, drivers are developing their road course racing skills. And, Sonoma Raceway is the latest track to put them on full display..
From the Pole to the Green Checkered Flag
Kyle Larson held the pole for the Sunday afternoon showdown. He quickly took control of the race and by lap four, Larson already held a four-second lead over the field.
The field came back together as the race reached the competition caution on the tenth lap. Larson retained the lead through the pitting cycle and took over once again. Kyle Larson was able to fend off Chase Elliott in second place to win the opening stage.
Kurt Busch and William Byron Lead Early in the Second Stage
Kurt Busch cycled to the front after opting not to pit during the stage break. Busch was able to lead three laps, but he was on older tires. William Byron was able to complete the pass into the lead on lap 28.
Kyle Larson clawed his way through the field and was also sitting in second place after he moved past Kurt Busch. A caution came out on lap 32 after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. cut a tire and hit the wall.
Kyle Larson sat on the front row heading into the restart. He moved ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and took the sole lead over the field with five laps remaining on the stage. Many front runners came to pit road just before the end of the stage. Kyle Larson did not and was able to easily win the second stage.
Kyle Larson Sweeps Three Stages to Earn a Win at Sonoma Raceway
Kurt Busch restarted the final stage with the lead, but he quickly surrendered to Chase Elliott. Chase Elliott was able to lead the race freely, but this did not last long.
It only took Kyle Larson 13 laps to move through the field and catch Chase Elliott. Larson completed a pass for the lead on lap 58.
The field was in the middle of pitting under the green flag, and Larson took his turn on lap 64. On lap 69, Larson was able to pass Kyle Busch and return to the lead once again.
There were three cautions within the final 20 laps of Sunday’s race. Ultimately, the race moved into overtime, and a two-lap shootout was going to settle the race. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott restarted on the front row. Elliott kept it close, but it was not enough. Kyle Larson was able to press on and capture the victory at Sonoma Raceway.
It was a dominating day for Kyle Larson. He had an odd strategy that worked for him. Typically, drivers will pit at the end of the stages, allowing them to maintain track position. But, it also allows them to go the remaining distance of the last stage with only one pit stop. Track position is important at Sonoma which is why many teams decide to have better track position rather than win stages.
Kyle Larson did the opposite. He stayed on track and won both stages. He was forced to drive through the field twice at a track where it is incredibly difficult to pass and was there at the end to win it at the checkered flag.
This is Larson’s third win of the year and his first win at Sonoma Raceway. He is settling in with Hendrick Motorsports and has become the man to beat.