It’s an eighty-one-mile drive from Elk Grove, California, the hometown of NASCAR driver Kyle Larson, to Sonoma, California, home of the aptly named Sonoma Raceway and host of today’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, this explaining why you saw more Larson fans in the RV parking area and more Larson shirts in the stands than probably every other track in NASCAR combined. Larson delighted those faithful to the local boy by making good with a dominating win, his second straight and third victory of the season.
Larson started the race on the pole position, winning this by dint of the field being set by NASCAR’s qualifying metrics rather than on-track qualifying due to the lingering cloud of COVID keeping all racing presence and activity to a one-day affair. Larson proceeded to set a blistering pace at the green flag, quickly assuming a four-plus second lead over teammate Chase Elliott. 2018 and 2019 Sonoma winner Martin Truex Jr. aggressively tore through the field, moving up from his nineteenth starting position up to ninth in seven laps. With a competition caution scheduled for lap ten so teams could check tire wear, multiple cars pitted one lap early for tires, calculating they could either come in for fuel during the competition caution or stretch their fuel until the first stage’s conclusion. Most all chose the former strategy, end result being when all was said and all were done in the pits Larson reassuming the lead, with Elliott second and Truex Jr. having moved up to fifth.
The race resumed with eight laps remaining until the first stage ended. The top drivers held serve aside from Truex Jr. assuming fourth from Alex Bowman, with some minor shuffling further back. A plethora of strategy, not some of it fueled (no pun intended) by confusion as to exactly when it was permissible to pit, played out with the second stage’s beginning showing Kurt Busch in the lead and Larson back in fifteenth. The cars up front had significantly more worn tires, the gamble being this disadvantage would be negated by the sheer amount of traffic ahead sufficiently hold up the
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