Sonoma Raceway Shakes Up 2022 Race Weekend

Sonoma Raceway

Getty The Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway will be shorter.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Cup Series will return to Sonoma Raceway on June 11-12 for another race weekend in wine country. The 2022 trip will mark a significant change as track officials bring back the high-speed Chute, which has not been part of the configuration since 2018.

Sonoma Raceway announced the news with a press release on Monday, January 10. The release confirmed that the drivers will take on the 1.99-mile course that became a mainstay on the schedule from 1998-2018 instead of the 2.52-mile version that Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson conquered in 2019 and 2021, respectively.

The Chute is the high-speed stretch of Sonoma that connects Turn 4 as the cars approach the top of the hill to Turn 7 as the stock cars prepare to go downhill and through the “S” turns. It creates new passing opportunities and close-quarters racing that ups the intensity level of each lap.

“We heard from many fans and drivers how much they loved it when we raced the Chute,” said Sonoma Raceway EVP and General Manager Jill Gregory in a statement. “The Carousel was part of the original course and we reverted back to it for our 50th Anniversary in 2019 and used it again in 2021. But we race to bring excitement and drama to the fans, and an overwhelming majority of them asked us to bring back the Chute.”


The First Races With the Chute Featured 1 Repeat Winner

Sonoma Raceway

GettyJeff Gordon (left) won five times at Sonoma Raceway.

Sonoma Raceway, which joined the Cup Series schedule in 1989, first featured the Chute during the 1998 season. Jeff Gordon led a race-high 48 laps and held off Bobby Hamilton to secure his first victory at the California track.

Gordon continued to lock up wins at Sonoma Raceway after the move to the 1.99-mile configuration. He repeated in 1999 and 2000 before Tony Stewart secured his own victory in 2001. Though Gordon added two more wins — 2004 and 2006 — at the road course before his retirement at the end of the 2015 season.

Multiple active drivers have reached Victory Lane at the version of Sonoma Raceway featuring the Chute. Kyle Busch (2008, 2015), Kurt Busch (2011), Truex (2013, 2018), and Kevin Harvick (2017) all excelled on the shorter version of Sonoma. Truex actually won the last race on the 1.99-mile version of the track and then he won on the 2.52-mile version in 2019.


The 2022 Race Will Feature Extra Laps

With the race weekend moving back to the shorter track configuration, there will be a corresponding move. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 Cup Series race will remain at 350 kilometers, so there will be extra laps added.

According to the press release, the Cup Series race will now be 110 laps instead of 90 as in 2019 and 2021. According to Racing Reference, the addition of the Chute in 1998 led to 112-lap races until 2001, but the race switched to 110 laps in 2002.

“It will be more exciting for the fans just because those are a couple of wild corners with some new hairy passing zones,” Larson said in a statement. “Mistakes can be made in those corners when you’re bouncing over curves so the cars will be moving around a lot. It will be exciting. It will be pretty wild because you can go all the way to exit of Turn 4 on the other side of the curve and barely miss the wall.”

READ NEXT: Aric Almirola Has Announced His Retirement Date


Read More
Comment Here
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x