NASCAR at Sonoma 2022: Odds, Preview and Top Storylines
The NASCAR Cup Series begins a mini road course swing on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
Sonoma was usually the first road course on the schedule, but the alterations made to the race lineup for 2022 made it the second one on the docket. Ross Chastain won the first road course race of the season at the Circuit of the Americas.
The Cup Series will be on road courses for two of the next three races. The series goes to Road America in Wisconsin on July 3. There is a week off in the schedule after Sunday's race in Sonoma.
Only four active Cup Series drivers have been to Victory Lane in Sonoma since 2012. Martin Truex Jr. owns three victories at the track, while Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson each won once.
Larson, Truex and Busch are high up on the odds chart to win the Toyota-Save Mart 350. Chase Elliott is the pre-race favorite.
Elliott has been a road course ace throughout his NASCAR career, but he has yet to conquer the California circuit.
Toyota Save Mart 350 Odds
Chase Elliott (+550; bet $100 to win $550)
Kyle Larson (+650)
Martin Truex Jr. (+900)
Kyle Busch (+1000)
Ross Chastain (+1200)
AJ Allmendinger (+1200)
Ryan Blaney (+1400)
Denny Hamlin (+1400)
Christopher Bell (+1400)
Chase Briscoe (+1400)
Austin Cindric (+1400)
William Byron (+1800)
Tyler Reddick (+1800)
Joey Logano (+1800)
Will Chase Elliott Add Sonoma to List of Road Course Victories?
Chase Elliott owns victories at Watkins Glen, Circuit of the Americas, Road America and the road courses at Daytona and Charlotte.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver needs a win at Sonoma to complete the set of road course victories.
Elliott experienced mixed results at the California road track. He has a pair of top-10 finishes and two places outside of the top 20.
Elliott fought for first place with Kyle Larson 12 months ago at Sonoma. He led 13 laps, but his Hendrick teammate controlled the race by leading 57 of the 90 laps.
The No. 9 car driver is the favorite at Sonoma because of his strength on the road courses. He was fourth at COTA behind Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell in March.
Elliott is not the only road course, or Sonoma, expert in the field, but you have to like his chances if he qualifies well, as he has the potential to control the race from the jump.
Larson could be viewed as Elliott's biggest competition, but there are some specialists who could make life difficult on the regular winners on the circuit.
Can a Surprise Winner Emerge from the Field?
Ross Chastain was viewed as a surprise winner at COTA in March because he did not have an extensive list of victories on road courses.
Chastain is no longer a surprise on any type of track with the season he is having, but there are a few unfamiliar faces who could steal a victory at Sonoma.
A.J. Allmendinger is a known quantity on road courses, but he is not a full-time Cup Series driver. An Allmendinger victory would steal a win away from someone in need of a win to reach the 16-man playoff field.
Allmendinger won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last season, and he has four top-10 finishes in his last seven starts on road tracks.
Christopher Bell has been relatively quiet this season. He could make a move for first place and a spot in the playoff field. The No. 20 car driver won at the Daytona road course last season.
Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon could try to steal a victory at Sonoma to make the playoff field. Each of those drivers have performed well on road courses recently.
Jones took 11th at Sonoma last season and has two other road course top 10s in the last two seasons. Dillon landed in the top 15 in five of the last six road course races. Reddick was fifth at COTA in March and second on the Charlotte Roval last fall.
A win by Bell, Jones, Reddick or Dillon, or any other second-tier driver, would squeeze the playoff bubble even more.
Eleven drivers already secured playoff berths through victories this season. A win by any of the drivers mentioned above would put more pressure on Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick to win in order to avoid the bubble squeeze-out. There are 10 regular-season races left after Sonoma.
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