NASCAR Cup drivers to watch at Sonoma (2024)

NASCAR Cup teams compete in the second road course event of the season Sunday at Sonoma Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

The event is the 16th of the regular season in the Cup Series. Ten races will remain until the playoffs after Sunday.

Here are the drivers to watch at Sonoma.

FRONTRUNNERS

Martin Truex Jr.

Points position: 4th

Best finish this season: 2nd (Bristol I)

2024 stats: No wins, four top fives and seven top 10s. He has led 446 laps and has an average finish of 11.9, which is tied for the third in the series.

Going into the weekend: Truex is the defending winner at Sonoma. He has four wins at the road course, including three in the last five races.

Chris Buescher

Points position: 14th

Best finish this season: 2nd (Phoenix I, Kansas I)

2024 stats: No wins, two top fives and six top 10s. Has led 100 laps and has an average finish of 15.4.

Going into the weekend: Buescher is the only driver to finish in the top five in both Sonoma races in the Next Gen car. His worst finish in the last 12 road course races is 11th. He has the best average in the series at a road course in the Next Gen car at 8.4. Buescher holds the final playoff spot with 11 races left in the regular season.

Michael McDowell

Points position: 24th

Best finish this season: 8th (Phoenix I, Atlanta I)

2024 stats: No wins, no top fives and four top 10s. Has led 119 laps and has an average finish of 22.4.

Going into the weekend: McDowell has an average finish of 5.0 in his two races at Sonoma in the Next Gen car. He’s coming off winning the pole last weekend at WWT Raceway.

Friday 5: Front Row Motorsports finds ways to make charter system work for it

Front Row Motorsports’ recent charter purchase is another example of how the team has benefitted from wheeling and dealing charters.

  • Dustin Long,
  • Dustin Long,

Chase Elliott

Points position: 3rd

Best finish this season: 1st (Texas)

2024 stats: One win, five top fives and seven top 10s. Has led 133 laps and has an average finish of 9.9.

Going into the weekend: Elliott has seven top-10 finishes in the last 11 races. His seven wins on road courses ranks third all time.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Denny Hamlin

Points position: 1st

Best finish this season: 1st (Bristol I, Richmond I, Dover)

2024 stats: Three wins, seven top fives and eight top 10s. Has led 607 laps and has an average finish of 11.5.

Going into the weekend: Hamlin has one road course win in Cup. That came at Watkins Glen in 2016. He has one top-10 finish on road courses in the Next Gen car. He has finished 31st and 36th at Sonoma in the Next Gen car, although he did win the pole for last year’s race.

Denny Hamlin maintains No. 1 spot in NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

Brad Keselowski moves up a spot to second.

  • Dustin Long,
  • Dustin Long,

Tyler Reddick

Points position: 6th

Best finish this season: 1st (Talladega I)

2024 stats: One win, six top fives and nine top 10s. Has led 305 laps and has an average finish of 13.3.

Going into the weekend: Reddick has won three times on a road course in the Next Gen era, the most among active drivers. Sonoma Raceway, though, has not been kind to him. Reddick has finished 33rd, 35th and 19th in his three Cup starts at the Northern California track.

Kyle Busch

Points position: 17th

Best finish this season: 3rd (Atlanta I)

2024 stats: No wins, two top fives and five top 10s. Has led 130 laps and has an average finish of 17.2.

Going into the weekend: Busch has finished in the top seven in seven of the last eight races at Sonoma, but this is a team that hasn’t had much go right lately. Busch has three finishes of 25th or worse in the last six races. He wrecked while racing Kyle Larson for seventh place on the last lap of stage two last weekend at WWT Raceway. Busch wrecked during a tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday.

Kyle Busch crashes during Indy tire test

Kyle Busch was evaluated and released from the infield care center.

  • Dustin Long,
  • Dustin Long,

Brad Keselowski

Points position: 9th

Best finish this season: 1st (Darlington I)

2024 stats: One win, seven top fives and eight four top 10s. Has led 64 laps and has an average finish of 13.5.

Going into the weekend: Keselowski has five top-three finishes in the last seven races, including the last three. Keselowski’s challenge, though, is road course racing. He is winless in 44 Cup starts on road courses and has only one top 10 in his last 19 road course starts.

NASCAR Cup drivers to watch at Sonoma (2024)
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