UPDATE: Sonoma Raceway’s freshly repaved road course was given a proper shakedown yesterday with a Goodyear Tire Test by 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion and 2023 Toyota/Save Mart 350 winner Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain and Josh Berry.

The trio of drivers ran an extended session Tuesday as each manufacturer worked closely with Goodyear officials to identify the ideal compound for Cup teams to use for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 this summer. The test will continue Wednesday with incoming weather expected to shift the focus of data gathering.

In addition to the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the jam-packed June 7-9 NASCAR race weekend will include the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, June 8 at 5 p.m. PT and the ARCA Menards Series West General Tire 200 race on Friday, June 7 at 3:30 p.m. PT.

The complete repave of Sonoma Raceway, the first in 23 years, finished in late February and included milling approximately 1 ½ inches off the old track, filling cracks, sealing, and adding a specially-designed asphalt mixture similar to the compound of the original track. Like the process used for the most recent Atlanta Motor Speedway repave, Speedway Motorsports used a special mix that is expected to create a more “worn-in” surface more quickly. Bay Cities Paving & Grading, the original paving contractor for Sonoma Raceway, supplied nearly 2,000 tons of specialty asphalt for the project, while ABSL Construction managed the milling process.

*Select quotes from Tuesday’s test and racing at Sonoma Raceway*

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota:

“Car feels pretty good and I’m helping Goodyear try to pick a tire for the year and obviously when we come back it’s going to be a lot hotter so it’s going to be different but always fun to get a little jump on the competition on a repave.

It’s a track I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve figured out the technique to get around this place and the old pavement and tire wear was part of the magic we found and what I was comfortable with so this is a whole new ballgame with the new pavement. We’ll have to approach it a little different but still the same track and same lines – we learned a bunch today and hopefully we’ll pick out a good tire and get to work on making the car even faster.

This would be a first 5-win track if we can get it done, so looking forward to that – I love coming down here and love the area and we’ve got a lot of fans out here.

This will be a new challenge – we were able to win on the carousel course and the normal course so maybe now we can win on a repave, we’ll see.

Track position is going to be everything. It’s unbelievably fast, so qualifying and track position is going to be everything.”

Ross Chastain – No. 1 TrackHouse Racing Chevy:

“The repave is super gripped up – we’re north of 2.5 seconds faster than the track record. We kept going faster throughout the day as we got rubber into the track. It was just about me chasing the grip because there was so much new asphalt.

I did not grow up road course racing – my first time turning right was in the Truck Series in 2013 and to think now that I’m the Chevy test driver this weekend in Sonoma for a road course in 2024 is just absolutely mind-boggling. We’ve put over a decade into learning and I’ve got tons of great people teaching me.

As we got our Goodyear rubber into it, we made a rubber line where we ran – it’s definitely dirty off-line but they’ll sweep that tonight and it will widen out with more cars. Tons of grip in the new pavement – with a new driving style, I’m digesting it. We captured a lot of data that we’ll bring back to North Carolina and disect what all happened.

Yeah, it’s fast. The pavement has so much grip that now the rumble strips feel really slick because you’re going so much faster. Everything is faster – I’m not using the curbs as much as I used to – I’ve evolved throughout the day. We’re in different gears – we’re in second where we used to be in first, we’re in fifth where we used to be in fourth … everything is up a gear and everything is happening fast. Trying to stay off the brake pedal, trying to let the car roll and use the tire grip for what it is.

I saw some fall-off – actually more than I thought. I had definite grip-loss on the car and it showed in the lap time. I had more than I expected for a repave.”

Josh Berry – No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford:

“I think they did a good job (on the repave) – obviously it’s a lot different than what we had last year with a lot more grip. I think the track is going to continue to get better and get more grip – it’s going to be a lot faster when we come back. It’s been fun to come here and test – I don’t have a lot of background in road racing so this has been a good opportunity for me to just learn and feel different things.

It’s been a good day – I don’t really think that my expectations have changed much but it’s been nice to be here and get some laps and hopefully that will help us when we come back.

It’s way faster, we’re already considerably faster than the pole speeds. Lap times are going to continue to drop. It’s going to be a challenge when we come back – in a place like this, it’s really technical and it’s going to be fast but there’s not a lot of runoff so it should make it a lot of fun.”

— Sonoma Raceway —

ORIGINAL POST 3-24-2024: Goodyear officials have scheduled a NASCAR Cup Series tire test Tuesday and Wednesday on the repaved racing surface at Sonoma Raceway.

The two-day session will help Goodyear representatives determine the proper tire compound and construction for the Cup Series’ June 9 visit to the California road course for the Toyota/Save Mart 35.

Three Cup Series teams — one from each of the tour’s three manufacturers — are scheduled to participate:

  • No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet (driver Ross Chastain)
  • No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (driver Josh Berry)
  • No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (driver Martin Truex Jr.)

Tuesday’s test will be closed to the public.

— NASCAR.com —

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