Two of the top three NASCAR series continue their seasons this weekend, putting the Xfinity and Cup drivers to the test at road courses. However, they will head to separate destinations for a fascinating race weekend. The Xfinity Series drivers will take on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course while the Cup Series stars will head to Sonoma Raceway in California.
The B&L Transport 170 Xfinity Series race will take place on Saturday, June 5, at 1 p.m. ET. There are 42 drivers on the entry list, but not all will qualify. Prior to defending Mid-Ohio winner Austin Cindric getting on the track, however, another series will take some laps. The ARCA Menards Series drivers will compete in the Dawn 150 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday, June 4. The race will take place at 6 p.m. ET.
Following the races in Ohio, the Cup Series drivers will cap off a lighter schedule with a trip to California. They will compete at Sonoma after a year away in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The road course race will take place on Sunday, June 6, at 4 p.m. ET. FS1 will provide coverage for all three events on the schedule.
Joe Gibbs Racing Dominated at the Last Sonoma Race
Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott will enter the weekend as one of the favorites due to his road course expertise, but he will not be the only Cup Series driver near the top of the list. Martin Truex Jr. may edge him out due to recording three wins at Sonoma. His stat line includes a 2019 race in which all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers turned in strong performances.
On June 23, 2019, the biggest names in the Cup Series completed 90 laps around the 2.520-mile road course. Truex performed the best that day, leading 59 laps and taking the checkered flag. Teammate Kyle Busch finished second after leading three laps of his own, walking away with 37 points. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five while former JGR driver Erik Jones finished eighth. No other team had more than one driver in the top-10.
Fast-forward to 2021, and the situations are slightly different. Jones now races for Richard Petty Motorsports while Christopher Bell competes for JGR. Additionally, Hendrick Motorsports is currently the team to beat with four superstar drivers. The organization has three straight wins, including two in which all four drivers finished in the top five.
The JGR drivers aren’t having a bad year by any stretch. Hamlin currently has the points lead despite failing to reach Victory Lane in 15 races. Truex has the most wins (three) of the season and is sixth in points. Bell sits above the cutoff line with his Daytona Road Course win while Busch is eighth after taking the checkered flag at Kansas.
The Drivers Will Have to Show Up Prepared for the Road Courses
Unlike the past two race weekends, the Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers will not have the ability to test out their respective road courses prior to the green flag waving. There will not be qualifying or practice sessions, following a trend set in 2020.
Instead, drivers such as Cindric and Truex will have to go back and look at their past races and examine what went right. Their data about previous setups will be a crucial piece of the puzzle, as will spending some time in the simulator. They will not have many opportunities to make adjustments to the stock cars during the race barring unforeseen caution flags.
Whether they find success over the weekend remains unknown, but there are several drivers that have past wins to lean on. Truex, Cindric, Harvick, and Busch will all enter the weekend as favorites due to their previous trips to the respective road courses. However, they will still have to execute in order to continue strong seasons.