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Everything That Happened in the Cup Race at Sonoma

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What’s Happening?

It’s that time of the year again! NASCAR heads to Wine Country for their annual race at Sonoma Raceway! In 2024, Sonoma Raceway got a little bit of a facelift with a repave, which virtually guarantees it to be one of the fastest Sonoma races in NASCAR history. This weekend also marks the last race (for Cup and Xfinity, at least) of 2024 that will be broadcast on the FOX Networks. Who has the car to beat today? Will it be pole sitter Joey Logano or one of the road course favorites like Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., or Daniel Suarez? Let’s dive into all that and more. It’s time to buckle in for the Toyota Save Mart 350!

You Need To Know:

  • With the new repave, 26 drivers broke the previous track record at Sonoma. Scoring the pole for Team Penske was Joey Logano in his No. 22 Ford Mustang. Logano has had a rough couple of years in the NASCAR Cup Series. He was looking to turn things around heading into wine country and scoring the pole was a great way to start things off on the right foot.
  • Joey Logano led the opening 17 laps of the race before pitting in under caution. The decision to pit was so that he could regain the lead when the rest of the field came down at the end of Stage 1. Tyler Reddick went on to win the opening stage at Sonoma and was pretty strong early on.
  • “Caution Fever” would be an apt way to describe the second stage. Caution after caution flew stemming from small, easily avoidable incidents. Out front, Tyler Reddick led a lion share of the stage. On Lap 53 (with 3 laps left in Stage 2), Reddick relinquished the lead and made his first pit stop of the race. Chris Buescher then inherited the lead and went on to win the second stage.

When the race restarted to kick off the final stage, Chris Buescher hung onto the lead. He held that lead until Lap-68 when he pitted. The lead then cycled back to the drivers who pitted at the end of Stage 2. Larson led for a spell with teammate Chase Elliott not too far behind him. Larson pitted with 30 laps to go, handing the lead over to Elliott who came in 3 laps later. With Blaney and Lajoie also pitting in this span, Chris Buescher cycled back to the lead.

When Buescher regained the lead, 5-time Sonoma winner, Martin Truex Jr. was hot on his heels. During Larson’s pit stop, he opted to take fresh tires, meaning that he was able to work his way through the field a little easier than most. By the time there were 12-laps to go, Martin Truex Jr. caught Buescher as had Larson on fresher tires. With 10 to go, the top-3 were all under a blanket.

Martin Truex Jr. took the lead with 9-laps to go in turn 1. Before the lap was over, however, Larson was through to the lead after Martin overdrove turn-5. The constant battle saw Chris Buescher slip back to 3rd and Michael McDowell who was running 4th entered the picture. McDowell did eventually overtake Buescher for 3rd.

On the last lap, Truex ran out of gas and was unable to make it back to the line to finish. Kyle Busch also ran out of fuel but was able to make it back to the line for a 17th place finish after spending many of the closing laps in the top-5. Kyle Larson went on to win the race. It was his 3rd win on the year and he drove a heck of a race in the final stage.

Congratulations to Larson on his victory at Sonoma!

The Layout

As reported by Bob Pockrass, the layout of the Toyota Save Mart 350 was as follows:

  • Stage 1: 25-Laps
  • Stage 2: 30-Laps
  • Stage 3: 55-Laps

Teams were given 6 sets of tires and the fuel window was between 38 and 41 laps.

Denny Hamlin’s Engine Lets go

For the second week in a row, a JGR Toyota had an engine problem. Last week, Christopher Bell went down a cylinder while battling with Ryan Blaney for the race lead. On Lap-3 of today’s race, his teammate Denny Hamlin had an engine expire in dramatic fashion. In the NextGen era, blown engines are something of a rarity. It kind of makes you wonder if all the shifting they’re doing is putting some extra strain on the engines. You can watch the incident in the video clip below, provided by NASCAR on FOX.

Jamie Little caught up with Hamlin in the garage area. He said that his situation was “not ideal”. Relive the comments from a clearly disappointed Denny Hamlin in the clip below.

Per Trey Ryan, at 2 completed laps, this is the fewest laps Denny Hamlin has EVER completed in his 846 NASCAR starts.

Trouble for Ty Gibbs

The issues for Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t stop with Denny Hamlin. On lap 15, Ty Gibbs had a flat right rear tire. He lost control of his car and ended up getting into the turn 1 wall. The contact broke the right front wheel. The incident ended his day.

Bob Pockrass caught up with Gibbs after the incident.

Logano, Briscoe, and Stenhouse All Go For A Spin

The third caution of the day (a record for an opening stage at Sonoma) came out when Joey Logano, Chase Briscoe, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all went for individual spins. Logano, who recently lost the lead to Tyler Reddick elected to pit to hopefully cycle back to the lead after the first stage. However, he ended up spinning out along with Chase Briscoe and Stenhouse when went off course to avoid the incident.

Tyler Reddick Wins Stage 1

Tyler Reddick once again flexed his road course muscles by winning the opening stage at Sonoma. Reddick started on the outside pole and trailed Joey Logano for the first 17 laps. When Logano pitted to play a little bit of strategy, Reddick inherited the lead. He held that lead through to the end of Stage 1. With this stage win, Tyler Reddick gains 10 points and 1 playoff point as we head into the homestretch before the Playoffs.

Pileup in Turn 11

The fifth caution of the day came at Lap 37. Bubba Wallace got off course but was able to get back on rather seamlessly. When the No. 23 fed back onto the track, the field scattered. Erik Jones got into Josh Berry who made light contact with the inside wall. Heading into turn 11, Berry ping ponged off the wall and got into Christopher Bell. Bell went around as did Austin Dillon who was tagged from behind by Cam Waters. Though the incident did cause some momentary congestion, all cars were able to get rolling and continue. You can watch the wreck in the video clip below.

After the wreck, Josh Berry was not happy. He had this to say over the radio.

A Bad Race for Last Week’s Winner, Austin Cindric

For last week’s winner, Austin Cindric, it was a slog of a race. He was running mid-pack when he got off the course in the opening laps of Stage 2 and went airborne.

His issues didn’t stop there, however. To add insult to injury, Cindric tangled with Michael McDowell as the two drivers got off course and slammed hard into the tire barrier. Both drivers were able to get going again with minimal damage. Noah Gragson was also involved in the incident. He was able to continue as well. The impact damaged the tire barrier which had to be repaired during a lengthy yellow flag.

Here’s footage of the AMR safety team repairing the tire barrier.

Reddick Pits, Buescher Wins Second Stage

For most of the stage, the top-7 cars on the track were the only ones to had not pitted. That all changed in the closing laps of the stage. Tyler Reddick dominated the caution riddled stage but peeled off pit road on Lap 53 to pit. The idea behind this strategy was to be able to make it to the end on just one more stop. Due to the 45 pitting, Chris Buescher inherited the lead. Around the playoff bubble, the 10 points Buescher scored by winning the stage were invaluable.

Larson Scores 3rd Win of 2024

Kyle Larson had a strong car heading into Sonoma. What really won him this race, though, was opting to take tires on his final pit stop. With fresh rubber, he was able to climb his way through the field back up to 1st. This was his 3rd win on the year, coming just a week after NASCAR approved his Playoff waiver. Congratulations to Kyle Larson and the No. 5 crew who ran a brilliant race!

Rewatch Kyle Larson’s pass for the lead in the clip below!

In The Stands

Chris comments on the abundance of cautions that started this race. It did seem a bit excessive, I must admit.

Aneil comments on the embarrassing opening two stages.

Devin Cook comments on the “snoozefest” opening stage and points out just how dificult it was to pass.

For J Gard, the celebration is on. NASCAR coverage shifts over to the NBC family of networks starting next week at Iowa.

Seth comments on how great the race was. Once the drivers stopped wrecking, it did ramp up quite a bit! He’s also heartbroken for Martin Truex Jr. We all are.

Dr. Auto Art is having to do another painting to capture this win!

Jerry Creamer comments on the absolute tear Kyle Larson seems to be on!


That’ll do it for NASCAR out in Wine Country! I realize that Sonoma isn’t a favorite road course for many NASCAR fans but we here at the Daily Downforce certainly hope you enjoyed the race. It was pretty thrilling in the closing laps, if I do say so myself. What do you make of this race, DDF readers? Are you happy with the outcome? How did your driver do? Let us know by commenting on all of our social media platforms.

That does it for our coverage at Sonoma! On to Iowa next week!

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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