What to Watch: Full guide for 2021 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway

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Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway (⏰ 4 p.m. ET | 📺 FS1 | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s race, the 16th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series event of the 2021 season.

Where: Sonoma Raceway, 2.52-mile road course in Sonoma, California
Qualifying: Kyle Larson won Busch Pole Award | Lineup
Green flag: 4:14 p.m. ET
TV/Radio: FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 85 degrees. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph., according to NOAA.gov.
Grand Marshal: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers head coach
Race Distance: 90 laps, 226.8 miles
Stages: 20 | 40 | 90
Pit-road speed: 40 mph
Caution car speed: 45 mph
Sonoma 101: Get the full lowdown
Entry list: See who’s in the field
Pit-stall assignments: See who is pitting where | Expert breaks down pit selections

2021 Sonoma 2
2021 Sonoma 2

Five to watch

Here are five big story lines we’ll be following at Sonoma Raceway.

1. Reigning champion Chase Elliott has won five of the last six road-course races, including the Cup Series’ most recent event at Circuit of The Americas. Elliott is NASCAR’s active leader in road-course wins with six career victories — none at Sonoma, though.

2. Ten drivers will be making their Cup Series debut at Sonoma: Anthony Alfredo, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Cole Custer, James Davison, Scott Heckert, Quin Houff, Tyler Reddick, Ben Rhodes and Garrett Smithley. Six are full-time drivers (Alfredo, Bell, Briscoe, Custer, Houff and Reddick), and only one is locked into the 2021 NASCAR Playoffs (Bell) thanks to a road-course win (Daytona Road Course).

3. Martin Truex Jr. has won the past two races at Sonoma (Jeff Gordon is the only driver to win three in a row from 1998-2000) and then a third back in 2013. He is the track’s winningest active driver. Truex is also one of three drivers in 2021 with multiple wins (three) through 15 races. Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson own two wins apiece but have never won at Sonoma.

4. Out of the two road-course races so far this season, Elliott (COTA) and Christopher Bell (Daytona Road Course) have won. Elliott’s win was two races ago. Bell’s was back in the second race of 2021, and his results haven’t been stellar since. In the seven races after his win, Bell did have four top-10 finishes. But in the past six races, he hasn’t posted one.

5. There are only four drivers who finished in the top 10 in the two road-course events this year, and none of them are either of the race winners. Joey Logano (second at Daytona Road Course, third at COTA), AJ Allmendinger (not entered into Sunday’s race; seventh at DRC, fifth at COTA), Michael McDowell (eighth at DRC, seventh at COTA) and Bowman (10th at DRC, eighth at COTA).

Race-day staples

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

Kyle Com Powerrankings Hero
Kyle Com Powerrankings Hero

Power Rankings: Can Kyle Busch end Hendrick Motorsports’ power party? | Scope the ranks
Paint Scheme Preview: Check out the paint schemes for wine country | See the schemes
Fantasy Fastlane: See which drivers to use, avoid | Full Fantasy advice | Set your roster
Preview Show: Jonathan Merryman and Alex Weaver preview the race | Watch the show

Get in on the action

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

Betting odds for the Sonoma race | See the odds
Big bets expected on favorites, but long shots loom | Who to bet
Ten drivers in Sunday’s field who have never raced at Sonoma | Analyze the newbies
Martin Truex Jr. returns to Sonoma as two-time defending winner | Read the preview
Take a shot at winning cash prizes with the free-to-play Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
Full guide to 2021 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ

Turning left … and right

Learn all about NASCAR’s history on road courses and the drivers considered to be the best at the track type.

• Road-course winners across all tracks | See the drivers
• Top 10 Sonoma lap leaders | See the drivers
• Every Sonoma winner ever | See the drivers
• All-time memorable moments from Sonoma | Relive the past
• Favorite moments from recent road-course races | Relive the moments

Fast facts

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

2021 Aricalmirola
2021 Aricalmirola

Brad Keselowski has never won a road-course race in 26 starts, though he is a three-time runner-up.
Denny Hamlin has led the most laps four times this season but remains winless.
Aric Almirola has never finished in the top five in 23 road-course starts.
• Six of the last nine Sonoma winners got their first win of the season.
• Four different organizations won in 2021, but Stewart-Haas Racing is not one of them.

Catch the pack

Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

• Back at home: Jill Gregory welcomes NASCAR, fans back to Sonoma | Read more
All-Star Race: Fan Vote still open, latest top 10 revealed | Read more
• Byron’s back:
William Byron to make Truck Series return at Nashville | Read more
• Downtown driving:
Chicago Street Course now available on iRacing | Read more
• Step toward normalcy:
Several tracks set to fully reopen as COVID-19 limits lift | Read more
• Scholarship program:
NASCAR partners with Stay Plugged IN on esports initiative | Read more
• Pro Invitational Series:
James Davison wins at Chicago Street Course | Read more
• Title venue:
Phoenix Raceway to host 2022 Championship Weekend | Read more

Say what?

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

“Yeah, going to a road course, I‘m going to need the fastest pit crew on pit road to make up for my lack of road-course skills. It‘s great to have them. They‘ve been so strong all year. Strategy is really key at Sonoma. There‘s a big balance between stage points and just trying to finish the race the strongest you can. Just trying to balance that and being a good shot to try and go win that thing.” — Alex Bowman, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“Sonoma is a racetrack that I haven‘t been to in my career, not just in the Cup Series, but in any series. That doesn‘t really concern me, though. I‘ve been watching a lot of video of past races and we have a good notebook here at Hendrick Motorsports. From what I can tell, if you get buried in traffic, it‘s hard to make up positions, even with pit strategy. Sonoma is a track where you either have to go for the win or go for maximum points. It doesn‘t seem to be like most road courses where you can go for stage points in one stage and give up the points in another. You have to pick one strategy or the other, which is a challenge.” — Rudy Fugle, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

2021 Martintruexjr
2021 Martintruexjr

“Our team is definitely looking forward to going back to Sonoma. It‘s a place we have a lot of confidence going to, regardless of the track layout or the aero package. We‘ve been fortunate to have had some good races there the last few times and been able to get to Victory Lane. We‘ll have our work cut out for us on Sunday, but we feel like it‘s a place we should run up front and have a shot to win at.” — Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

“Nobody is happy right now is the thing. We‘re all trying to find different things to try and make our cars better and it‘s just, like I said before, there‘s no good way to really go about it right now when you don‘t have any practice. That‘s the plain and simple point. When you don‘t have any practice you‘re kind of guessing and you‘re thinking through things and trying things at the simulator and you think they‘re better, but if you‘re not able to do it at that certain racetrack that certain weekend, you really don‘t know how it‘s gonna work out when you don‘t have any practice time. In the Cup Series the competition is so stiff that if you‘re off for that first run, it ruins your whole day.” — Cole Custer, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford