Five Questions Before Sonoma


Credit: Carmen Mandato

The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series are headed to California this weekend. 

Who will win in wine country?  There are a lot of unknowns heading into the weekend, but read on for some insight on this weekend’s 5Q’s. 

1. Who has the best odds to win at Sonoma? The days of veteran drivers dominating at Sonoma are long gone in the modern era. Young talents like Chase Elliott haven’t quite mastered the almost two-mile road course, but aren’t too far behind in being regular contenders. 

Elliott has the most road course victories (seven) as an active driver, followed by JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., each with four. 

Meanwhile, Ryan Blaney could be seen as an underdog this weekend at Sonoma, as he looks for his first win of the 2022 season. While Blaney only has one career road course victory (Charlotte ROVAL, 2018), the Team Penske star has one top-five finish and three top-10 finishes at the 1.99-mile track in Sonoma, California. 

2. Will Carson Hocevar race this weekend? Carson Hocevar was involved in a last-lap crash during the Toyota 200 at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. 

Hocevar had to be extracted from his No. 42 Chevrolet after being hit in the door by Tyler Hill. 

While Hocevar and his Niece Motorsports team haven’t disclosed details about the injuries he sustained, they announced on Wednesday (June 8th) that Hocevar will attempt to start  Saturday’s DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway. Team Trackhouse’s Daniel Suarez will be on standby, should Hocevar need to exit early.

3. Will Denny Hamlin serve Ross Chastain some payback? Denny Hamlin had some strong words for Ross Chastain after the two made contact last weekend during the Enjoy Illinois 300 Presented by TicketSmarter. 

Chastain made an aggressive move toward Hamlin on Lap 15, and Hamlin later retaliated against the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet. 

Hamlin later said that when he repays Chastain it will be when it matters. He said, “You’re going to (have) to weigh the odds of when’s the right to make sure they get the message.”  

Based on what Hamlin said and the fact that Chastain's two wins make it probably that he'll be in the post-season playoffs, I don’t see Hamlin doing anything without it jeopardizing his own championship hopes.    

Hamlin probably hasn’t forgotten about his former teammate being suspended for getting even with Joey Logano during the 2015 Playoffs.

4. Will the 2022 season be Martin Truex Jr.’s last full-time season? Questions are swirling about Martin Truex Jr. and his potential retirement from the NASCAR Cup Series. 

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has had a lengthy up-and-down career, but sometimes there’s more to life than just racing. 

Truex’s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is in a long battle with ovarian cancer. No one would blame Truex if he wanted to hang up his helmet and trade it for time to spend with her. 

Truex stated earlier this month that he'll make a decision in the coming weeks about whether or not he will retire. 

Truex has an average finish of 13.1 for the season. If Truex stays and figures out the kinks in the Next Gen car, he could very well be a contender for another championship. 

No matter what his decision is, however, Truex’s legacy will be one for the good guys -- because sometimes they do win. 

5. When will the NASCAR XFINITY Series return? The second-tier NASCAR series has the next two weekends off from competition.

They will return on Saturday, June 25th when they head to Music City for the Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway.  

Five Questions Before Sonoma Five Questions Before Sonoma Reviewed by Courtney Horn on Friday, June 10, 2022 Rating: 5