By Walker Polivka
The NASCAR Cup Series continues today with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Read on below to see our prediction for who will win the race, as well as our top 10, dark horse, and driver to fade predictions.
Driver to Fade: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.- 2022 has been an up and down year for Stenhouse, as he has 1 top 5, 5 top 10’s, and 9 finishes of 25th or worse in 15 starts. Stenhouse has never been known for his road course prowess and Sonoma is a prime example, with a best finish of 18th place in his last 8 starts at the track. Stenhouse was consistently one of the slowest cars in both Practice and Qualifying and we predict that he is a lock to finish outside the top 20 today.
Dark Horse: Chris Buescher- Returning to the track this week after being sidelined with COVID last week, Buescher has put together a quiet, but consistent 2022 campaign, with 3 top 10’s and only 2 finishes of 30th or worse in 14 starts. Although he is hardly considered a road course ringer, Buescher was a former teammate of road course GOAT AJ Allmendinger for 2 years at JTG Daugherty Racing and certainly picked up some lessons from AJ during that stretch. Buescher also finished in the top 20 at all 7 road courses races last season, including a stellar 3rd place finish at the Charlotte Roval. If Buescher can continue to keep up the pace he had in Practice and Qualifying, a top 10 finish is certainly within reach.
Top 10: Chase Elliott- The Regular Season Points Leader, Elliott has put together a solid season so far, with 1 win, 3 top 5’s, and 9 top 10 finishes. A close second to Allmendinger in the road course department, Elliott has 7 career wins on this style of track in his young career. Elliott has been in a bit of a cold snap the past few weeks, with 3 straight finishes outside the top 20. He may not win the race at Sonoma today, but we predict that Elliott with be a threat all race long and get his season back on track with a top 10 finish today.
Winner: Kyle Larson- The defending winner at Sonoma Raceway, Larson hasn’t dominated 2022 like he did the 2021 season, but he is still having a terrific 2022 campaign, with 1 win, 6 top 5’s and 8 top 10 finishes. With 3 wins and 5 top 5 finishes at the 7 road course races in 2021, Larson has proved that he can turn both right and left with the best of the them. Larson was fast from the get go this weekend, as he was the fastest in Practice and the fastest in Qualifying this weekend. All of this adds up to Kyle Larson going to Victory Lane at Sonoma Raceway for the second consecutive year!