Drivers talk effects of off-weeks, preparation for Sonoma
Kyle Busch qualifies for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Saturday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy / The Racing Experts



By Dominic Aragon
Editor
June 26, 2016
daragon@theracingexperts.net




SONOMA, Calif.—The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sonoma race weekend marks the first time the series is back in action after its second of three scheduled off-weeks in 2016.

The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway is the first of two road course races on the Sprint Cup Series schedule and 16th race of 36 points-paying races.

Jimmie Johnson, the 2010 Sprint Cup Series winner at Sonoma, talked with The Racing Experts about how an off-weekend can affect the driver and team.

“The off-week definitely takes away some of the sensitivity in the car,” he said. “I think most of us probably don’t train, and just check out and try to charge the batteries; hang out with your family, and you’re out of the racing space.




Jimmie Johnson practices for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Friday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy / The Racing Experts

“Certainly walking in the garage [Friday] and seeing my guys and running into the fans, there’s been a few moments where I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve been away for ten days, or whatever it is; zero back in, remember what this is all about.’

“You lose a little bit, but within ten or 15 minutes, that first practice session, it all comes back.” Johnson will start Sunday’s race 15th.


Kyle Larson qualifies for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Saturday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy / The Racing Experts

Kyle Larson is set to start his third career Sprint Cup race at Sonoma fifth, his lowest qualifying run at the track in his career. Larson talked about is he was able to use racing simulators for preparation of Sunday’s race.


“Zero, I had no time,” he said to The Racing Experts. “I was in Ohio, I ran six days straight there ina  sprint car. I tried to hook my computer up, but I couldn’t get my internet hooked up at the house.”


Kyle Busch qualified eighth for Sunday’s race, his highest starting position at the track since 2013. Busch also addressed the topic of how an off-week affects the driver and team.


“It doesn’t affect you a whole lot, I guess just with the difference of what a road course is anyways,” he said to The Racing Experts. “It actually is sort of a welcome break, I guess, to have an off-weekend when you come to a road course like this.

“The stresses and everything that is put on your body at this sort of race is a lot higher than it would be at any other track.

“So, Sonoma is a very demanding physically, mentally and being able to hit your marks and have a fast car and be doing a good job behind the wheel to make sure you can have speed yourself. Lots of different things happen here.”


Joey Logano will start seventh Sunday, his highest start since winning the pole for the 2011 Sonoma race.

Logano talked with The Racing Experts about how the off-week affects he and his team’s preparation for Sunday’s race.


“It’s nice,” he said. “You guys all know that NASCAR racing has a very tough schedule and it’s nice to give your team a little bit of a break, especially at this point in the season.

“We’ve been running hard here for a while and it’s nice to get a little bit of a break in these hot summer months and allow them to have some time with their family.

Joey Logano qualifies for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Saturday.
Photo by Brian DeGruchy / The Racing Experts
We have to remember to enjoy this a lot of times and I couldn’t have picked a better weekend after a win to have an off-weekend.

“We’ve had two weekends to enjoy it, so that was nice for us, but I was ready to get back to it. By the time Sunday rolled around I was like, ‘Alright, I’m ready to go again,’ but it was definitely nice to take a step back and enjoy Father’s Day and all that.”
Which driver will finish highest?
No. 18 Kyle Busch
No. 22 Joey Logano
No. 42 Kyle Larson
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
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