The main buzz from an overall perspective coming into this race is just how well the Next-Gen cars will hold up on just the second track of this style this season.
Sonoma had a new look to it the last two races they ran here back in 2019 and 2021, but according to NASCAR.com, the track is being reverted to a 1.99-mile track, like it had been from 1998-2018, instead of the 2.52-mile track it had been recently.
When you bet on NASCAR, it’s important to do your research, such as how a driver has fared lately, as well as how he performs on certain tracks or types of tracks.
Who Are the favorites?
Chase Elliott enters atop the standings with 507 points. He also enters atop the NASCAR Cup Series odds board for this week at +650. Where does the rest of the field stand in the Toyota Safe Mart 350
Elliott has top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes, and one win in 15 starts this season, so it makes sense as to why he comes in as the betting favorite. Also, take into account that Elliott has a whopping seven wins in 20 races at road courses. In that same time span, he has 14 top-10 finishes and 12 top-five finishes.
Note: Elliott has never won at Sonoma in five races. He came close last season with a second-place finish; Sonoma is the only road course Elliott has failed to win at in which he’s started multiple races. Could this be the year Elliott, one of the sport’s most dominant road-course drivers, breaks through?
A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Larson come in tied for the second-lowest betting odds, each at +700.
Larson enters the weekend seventh in the standings. He has eight top-10 finishes, six top-five finishes, and a win on the season. Larson has also done well at road courses in his career, especially recently. His first-ever win on a road course came at Sonoma last season. Larson clearly enjoys racing at Sonoma, as he’s started the race as the pole-sitter in each of the last four races at the track.
As for Allmendinger, he’s looked at as almost a road-course specialist. He doesn’t often race in the Cup Series, but when he does, it’s on a road course. In 27 Cup Series starts on road courses, Allmendinger has 12 top-10 finishes, five top-five finishes, and two wins. The most recent of his two wins came at the Indy Road Course last season, while the other win was at Watkins Glen in 2014. While considered a road-course specialist, there hasn’t been anything special about Allmendinger’s runs at Sonoma with just two top-10 finishes and zero top-five finishes in 10 races.
Road Course Warriors
When talking about road courses, we must mention Kyle Busch. He has 24 top-10 finishes in 42 road course races, including 15 top-five finishes and four wins, he is the active leader in laps led on road courses. He’s one of only two active drivers with multiple wins at Sonoma. In 16 races at Sonoma, he’s finished inside the top 10 in half of them, finished inside the top five in six of them, and has two career wins. At +1000, there’s some good value on Busch this week.
Another driver to look out for this weekend would be his teammate Martin Truex Jr. He’s tied with Busch for the second-most victories among active drivers on road courses. The big difference? Three of those wins have come specifically at Sonoma. He’s also the active leader in laps led at Sonoma with 213. He should be in consideration to be on your card at +800.
Where’s the Value?
There’s some value on Kurt Busch this week. He enters at +2000. He has a win here, but it came back in 2011 when he was still racing for Team Penske and Dodge; however, Busch has still been remarkably consistent at Sonoma.
Since his win, he’s only finished outside of the top-10 twice in nine races. Also, since his win, he has a second-place finish, a third-place finish, a fourth-place finish, and two sixth-place finishes. Even if Kurt Busch doesn’t make it on your card as an outright winner, there are definitely some props you can take with him.
While not a big number, Ross Chastain at +1200 is still a good value. He’s been one of the most consistent drivers on the season with seven top-five finishes and two wins. His first win came back at the Circuit of the Americas; the first road course on the Cup Series schedule. Will Chastain take another checkered flag at the road course? It remains to be seen. But just like every other race this season, expect him to be in the hunt at the end.
This years version of the Toyota Safe Mart 350 will no doubt be a good one, and it could bring a surprise or two.Follow us on Twitter