SONOMA, Calif. — The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway will be racing the carousel at the 2.52-mile road course for the first time since 1997.
No driver in the 38-car field this season has previously competed at the speedway on the carousel in the Cup Series.
How much of a difference will the carousel make for Cup Series drivers competing at Sonoma this weekend in the Toyota/Save Mart 350?
Corey LaJoie, driver of the No. 32 GO FAS Racing Ford, gave his insight on competing at the track from a physical standpoint.
“Your neck isn’t used to going right,” said LaJoie to The Racing Experts, who has never competed at the road course in the Cup Series.
“My one road course race at Watkins Glen the right side of my neck was falling out of the seat. I did more to prepare my body to go right, but a lot of it is just getting used to how the car drives.
“I have never done it before, especially here. I have hardly any road course experience. Every lap I am trying to learn something, pickup something to keep pace with these guys that have been doing it for 15 years.”
For LaJoie, a successful raceday Sunday would include all four ties “pointed straight” and all the fenders on the racecar.
“If you can do that I think you end up somewhere between 15th and 20th,” he said. “If we can get in better position and get in the back end of the top-10, that would be a win.”
David Ragan, driver of the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, has competed in the last 12 Cup Series races at Sonoma.
Ragan was unsure of how the race will be different this season.
“Ask me after the race on Sunday,” Ragan said to The Racing Experts. “I think they offset it by running 20 less laps. I don’t think it will be that much different.”
Ragan’s highest finish at the track was 22nd in 2018 for FRM.
Qualifying is tentatively set to start at 3:10 p.m. ET Saturday for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
The race will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 Sunday (June 23) at 3 p.m. ET.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.