Sonoma Raceway isn’t necessarily a horsepower race track. The road courses is more about finesse and track position rather than pure speed. That’s why despite a struggling season through the first 15 races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series year, Chevrolet is shining this weekend in wine country.
Through two practice sessions and qualifying to set the field for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, Chevy is looking like the odds on favorite to earn their first victory since the season opening Daytona 500.
Four of the top five starters for Sunday’s race on the 1.99-mile road course are Chevy powered. That’s the first time all year that they’ve looked this good. Both Chip Ganassi Racing cars will start in the first two Rows as Kyle Larson earned his sixth career Busch Pole Award and second straight in Sonoma. His teammate Jamie McMurray will roll off fourth in his No. 1 Chevrolet.
That’s not too shocking though. The Ganassi cars have had the most speed in them this season and they swept the front row in 2017. Plus, McMurray has started in the top four in four of the last six years at the Northern California race track.
But, Hendrick Motorsports can hang their hats high too. They took three of the top eight starting spots too. Chase Elliott will start third in his No. 9 Chevrolet while Jimmie Johnson and rookie William Byron will roll off seventh and eighth respectively. Alex Bowman, the fourth driver in their camp, starts 17th.
It’s by far the best qualifying effort out of this four car group since Daytona back in February too. Byron, has never raced in Sonoma before, so to be rolling off in the fourth Row is impressive enough.
The other Chevy up front was AJ Allmendinger. Again, like the Ganassi duo, not much of a surprise. This is his fifth straight top five starting spot in Sonoma.