Sonoma Raceway is one of the most challenging race tracks on the NASCAR schedule. Unlike other road courses with long straightaways and heavy braking zones emphasizing power and aggressiveness, Sonoma is a track that is all about finesse. The tight turns, elevation change, and sweeping esses have been a challenge some drivers have taken and run with, and these are the five best drivers at Sonoma.
5. Denny Hamlin
By the Numbers: 0 Wins; 4 Top 5s; 7 Top 10s; 102 Laps Led; 17.9 Avg. Finish; 16 Races
Breakdown: Denny Hamlin has had some great performances at Sonoma, but winning at Sonoma always seems to elude him. From 2016-2021, Hamlin had a streak of five straight top 10 finishes at the track including his best finish of second in 2016. Hamlin is unfortunately remembered at Sonoma for being the guy Tony Stewart bumped out of the way for his final career win, but Hamlin deserves some credit for his good recent performance at the track including stage wins in 2018 and 2019.
4. Chase Elliott
By the Numbers: 0 Wins; 2 Top 5s; 4 Top 10s; 42 Laps Led; 13.3 Avg. Finish; 6 Races
Breakdown: Chase Elliott is arguably the best road course racer in NASCAR right now with an impressive seven career victories, which is already third best all-time. At Sonoma, Elliott has not gotten that win yet, but that win seems like in inevitability. He led 26 laps last season at this track, and he has finished in the top 10 in four of the last five races save for an engine failure in 2019.
3. Martin Truex Jr.
By the Numbers: 3 Wins, 5 Top 5s, 6 Top 10s, 213 Laps Led, 17.7 Avg. Finish, 16 Races
Breakdown: This track is the definition of feast or famine for Martin Truex Jr., but, when he is on, he is seemingly unbeatable at the track. In each of his three wins there, he has led at least 51 laps including breaking his 218 race winless streak at Sonoma in 2013. However, he has had seven finishes outside of the top 20, so it is up in the air as to what Truex Jr. will bring to Sonoma this weekend.
2. Kevin Harvick
By the Numbers: 1 Win, 7 Top 5s, 11 Top 10s, 95 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Finish, 21 Races
Breakdown: The California native is naturally going to be a factor whenever the Cup Series comes to Sonoma. In six of the last seven races at the track, Harvick has finished worse than sixth only once, including four top 5s. His lone win at the track came in 2017, taking the lead for good with 22 laps to go.
1. Kyle Busch
By the Numbers: 2 Wins, 6 Top 5s, 8 Top 10s, 115 Laps Led; 15.5 Avg. Finish; 17 Races
Breakdown: Sonoma is a track Busch has enjoyed immense success at, particularly in recent years. Since 2015, Busch has five top fives in seven races at the track including beginning his incredible championship comeback in earnest with a win at Sonoma over his brother, Kurt, in 2015. Kyle also dominated the 2008 race leading 78 laps despite starting in 30th.
The biggest thing that can be gathered from this list is that Sonoma does not have one clear-cut favorite. It seems like every year someone different is dominating at the track, and those who have won at the track still struggle sometimes. It’s hard to find a more challenging race track on the schedule.