TALE OF TWO KYLES

Kyle & Audrey Larson

Kyle & Audrey Larson

Kyle Larson, driving #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, has the Sonoma Raceway pole for Sundays NASCAR Cup Series race …. again. This makes his fifth consecutive pole position* for the Northern California native who calls Sonoma his home track. Never one for over-enthusiasm, his main reaction was surprise as he didn’t feel he was that good, saying the other track configuration suits him better. When asked about his race strategy, he said he’d discuss it with his crew chief tomorrow.

Starting second on the front row with Larson will be his teammate, Chase Elliott in No.9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Third through fifth are Chris Buescher #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, Michael McDowell #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, and Tyler Reddick #8 Lenovo Chevrolet.

Qualifying was done in two parts – A & B. AJ Allmendinger, making a road racing appearance in the Cup Series, drove #16 Goldfish Casino Slots Chevrolet to the top slot in Practice A. He’s fresh off his road-racing victory last weekend in the rain-soaked Xfinity Series race in Portland. Second thru fifth in Practice A were Buescher, Kevin Harvick #4 GEARWRENCH Ford, William Byron #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, and Bubba Wallace #23 DoorDash Toyota. In Practice B, it was Larson who led the pack, followed by Elliott, Chastain, Kyle Bush #18 M7M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota and Daniel Suarez #99 Onx Homes Chevrolet. Suarez will doing double duty Saturday as he will be getting to the pole sitting #42 Chevrolet after it’s started by driver Carson Hocevar.

Kevin Harvick

Harvick was playful in his bull-pen chats, deftly deflecting most questions, especially when it related to previous misbehavior of other drivers.

After the two sessions, there was a third session, for the top five from each group, going for the pole. Larson prevailed with a lap of 92.110 mph.

*Technically Larson got the 2021 pole position by metrics as there was no practice or qualifying, due to Covid.

Further on down the roster, the Busch brothers occupy row 6 – for the fifth time, said Kyle.

Thirty-five of the thirty-six drivers were on course. Cody Ware #51 Nurtec ODT Ford did not go on track, after penalties for ‘excessive naughtiness.” He failed inspection numerous times. He can start the race at the rear, but then will have to pit for a pass-through penalty.

Kyle Busch

Saturday afternoon, close to 5pm when the wind was really howling, the Trucks had their race, and finished after 7 pm. It was won by Kyle Busch #51 yahoo! Toyota, who dominated. He led four times for 45 of the 75 laps, turned the fastest lap (according to the announcers,) and stacked up more stats. This is Kyle’s first road course Truck Series victory, his first Truck Series win at Sonoma, his first win this season, and his 62nd victory in the Truck Series. He’s won Truck Series races on 20 different tracks.

Zane Smith

Ross Chastain

Daniel Suarez

Left to right: Zane Smith, Ross Chastain, and Daniel Suarez

The Margin of Victory ahead of Zane Smith #38 Michael Roberts Construction Ford was 1.176 seconds. Third through fifth were Ty Majeski #66 Cincinnati Toyota, Ross Chastain #41 Worldwide Express Chevrolet and Chandler Smith #18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota. There were 10 lead changes among five drivers. They were Carson Hocevar (who dropped to rear from pole due to unapproved adjustments;) Chastain, Majeski, Grant Effinger #23 Champion Power Equipment, and Ben Rhodes #99 Tenda Toyota

Polesitter Carson Hocevar started the race and pitted on Lap 14 for driver change. Backup driver Daniel Suarez got in. This put him two laps behind, and coupled with his other pit stop, he drove hard to play catchup. He steadily worked his way through the pack, and finished sixth, earning valuable points for Hocevar, who maintained his eighth position in the points. Ben Rhodes kept his points lead.

Jack Wood #34 Cooks Collision Chevrolet was the top finishing Rookie, in 16th.

The race was punctuated by six cautions and a Red Flag, taking out 17 of the 75 laps. The first one was for the conclusion of Stage One, which was incident-free. The end of Stage Two was coupled with an incident in Turn 8 which involved two cars. Three incidents in the last Stage involved more cars, a car fire, and the Red Flag for wall repair after three cars collided in Turn 1. No one was hurt, but the track took a beating as did more than a few trucks. All drivers were evaluated and released from medical center. Five drivers had accidents, and three had mechanical woes. The average speed started out 89+ mph, and overall was 66.612 mph. All trucks passed inspection and there were no issues.

Twenty-eight of the 36 drivers were running at the end of the race, with 26 of them on the lead lap.

NASCAR is taking Father’s Day weekend off, so the next Truck Series race will be 18 June 2022 at Knoxville Raceway.

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