How Kyle Larson scored his third NASCAR Cup Series win this season at his home track

Kyle Larson won an eventful race at his home track.

The NASCAR star grew up in Elk Grove, California, roughly 80 miles from Sonoma Raceway. He’s run well at Sonoma throughout his Cup Series career — his four poles at the 1.99-mile road course lead active drivers by a wide margin — and started Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 on the third row.

Larson worked through the field throughout a race that saw eight cautions across the first and second stages before an entirely green final stage. The Hendrick Motorsports driver passed Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Buescher late to claim his third win of the season.

“Just an awesome, awesome race car,” Larson said. “Cool to win at home. Drink some wine here in a little bit and go celebrate.”

Larson got to spend time in his home state this week after his playoff waiver was granted following the severe weather that negated his plans to run both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600. He is now back atop the Cup Series standings after recently not knowing if he’d be eligible for the championship, as it took more than a week for NASCAR to approve his waiver.

Seven of the eight cautions came over the first 40 laps on Sunday, a rarity on road courses. The race at Circuit of the Americas didn’t see a single natural caution, and Sonoma’s recently-repaved track had cars spinning early.

Michael McDowell finished second, Chris Buescher third, Chase Elliott fourth and Ross Chastain fifth.

Breaking down the action

Tyler Reddick, who started alongside pole-sitter Joey Logano on the front row, led the most laps on Sunday.

Reddick won Stage 1 and continued dominating, but then most lead cars decided to pit before the conclusion of Stage 2. Chris Buescher won the stage after staying out — and kept himself toward the front.

Buescher was battling Martin Truex Jr. for the race lead with roughly 10 laps left, and Larson had made it back up to P3. Larson closed the gap on those leaders and passed them both.

“It was really good strategy on the day and an awesome finish,” Buescher said. “I wasn’t quite able to hold the lead there and that bums me out. I was trying. I’ve got to be better and ultimately figure out how to make that last a little bit longer, but our team did a really nice job.”

Shane van Gisbergen wins in back-to-back weeks

The New Zealand-born driver who triumphed at the inaugural Chicago Street Race scored another road course win.

Shane van Gisbergen won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma from the pole, holding off Sheldon Creed and Sam Mayer by a significant margin over the final laps. Austin Green finished fourth in his third career Xfinity start.

It marks wins in back-to-back weeks for the three-time Supercars champion, who dominated last week’s road course race at Portland.

Shane van Gisbergen (97) performs a burnout after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sonoma 250 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on June 8, 2024.
Shane van Gisbergen (97) performs a burnout after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sonoma 250 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on June 8, 2024.

SVG’s next Cup start? He looks to defend his Chicago Street Race crown on July 7.

Two Australian drivers make Cup Series debuts at Sonoma

Cam Waters and Will Brown started in the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time on Sunday.

Waters, a 29-year-old Repco Australian Supercars Series veteran who piloted the No. 60 RFK Racing Ford, had made his NASCAR debut in this year’s Truck Series race at Martinsville. He was involved in a wreck and didn’t finish the race because of suspension damage.

“It’s a bucket list thing for me to come over and do one of these races,” Waters told reporters Sunday. “Part of it was doing the Truck stuff on the ovals and that was absolutely awesome, and then to do a road course in a Cup car, which is a car that is similar to what we race at home, was so cool. And to have all of my family and some friends here was super special.

Brown, who currently leads the Supercars Championship points standings, finished P31 in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Shane van Gisbergen was his spotter.

“Since Shane (van Gisbergen) came over, it’s really put it on the map,” Brown said about NASCAR in Australia. “I think for a lot of Australians, it wasn’t that we didn’t love watching NASCAR, but we probably didn’t think it was possible to get a team to look at us and give us the opportunity to drive in NASCAR.

“After Shane did that, it’s opened up some doors, and with meeting Richard (Childress) last year, it sort of kind of came on from there and I’ve stayed in contact. I didn’t think I’d be in this position a year ago, so it’s pretty exciting.”