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Toyota/Save Mart 350: California's Kyle Larson Earns Second Sonoma Victory


Kyle Larson celebrates in Victory Lane at Sonoma.
Kyle Larson got to sip Sonoma's iconic wine for the second time. (Photo: Logan Riely | Getty Images)

SONOMA, Calif. - After a differing strategy and a caution-free final stage at Sonoma Raceway, Kyle Larson earned his third win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season and his second career win at his home track in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.


The Hendrick Motorsports driver had one of the fastest cars all weekend, used a differing pit strategy compared to Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Buescher to take the lead with just a handful of laps remaining, cruising to his 26th career Cup Series victory.


"Thankful that we had enough grip," Larson said. "Thankful, too, that those guys got racing and Martin never got clear really to where I could get stuck in third and that really saved the race. I thought, too, once he got the lead, I'm like - man, I hope he doesn't have somebody to judge off of here into (Turn) 4 and he misses apex. And sure enough, he did, and I had a big run.


"Just an awesome, awesome race car. Valvoline, every time we have Valvoline on the car, I feel like we're really fast. Thanks to Valvoline, Hendrickcars.com, Chevrolet, Jinya Ramen Bar, Prime. Just cool to win at home - drink some wine here in a little bit and go celebrate."


Michael McDowell was involved in an earlier caution but recovered nicely. The driver the No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford thought something was wrong with his car with a dozen laps to go, stuck with it and passed both Buescher and Truex Jr. to finish in the runner-up position.


"The first stage went well for us, just kind of executing our plan and our strategy, but, unfortunately, when we got towards the back on that restart and they piled up in the esses we just got drove into and into the barriers," McDowell said. "That really hurt our track position because then we had to come back down pit road and fix the damage and that kind of killed our chances of restarting up front when it did cycle out, but, fortunately, we had a really fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang."


McDowell, who is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, said the strong result for the team is a good momentum booster.


"It’s great to be disappointed with second, but that’s just the way this playoff format is," McDowell added. "A win is so important and we came up a little bit short."


Truex Jr., one of the best drivers to ever compete at Sonoma (four wins), was running in second place before running out of gas on the last lap. The driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota wound up 27th after having an eventful day.

"It was a tough day," Truex Jr. said. "Got spun out early and had to work hard to get some track position back. James (Small, crew chief) did a good job on our strategy. Our car was pretty good out front. Thought we were going to have a shot to win there and just couldn’t quite get by the 17 (Buescher) quick enough. I finally cleared him; I made a mistake and the 5 (Larson) was right there to pounce and then obviously ran out of gas so it didn’t matter.


"I’m not sure why we didn’t try to save a little at the end. I was clearly not going to catch the 5 or pass him. It’s a shame that we went around the last corner and went from second to wherever we finished. It sucks, but it was a tough day, and we had a good car. We battled and did a good job. We were going to have a good day, but just one corner short."


Results from the 2024 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway are listed below:

2024 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Results.

Other Race Facts

Denny Hamlin's exit after two laps is the fastest he's ever been out of a NASCAR Cup Series race, according to statistician Trey Ryan. The Sonoma race marked his 666th career start in the series and ended his five-race top-five streak.


Michael McDowell's second-place finish was the first time he ever finished second in a Cup Series race. This statistic is notable because, after 481 career starts, the Front Row Motorsports driver has now finished in every possible finishing position (1-40) at the top level.


RFK Racing's Chris Buescher has been on an absolute tear on road courses in the Next Gen era. Buescher, who finished in third at Sonoma, has finished in the top 11 in every single NASCAR road/street-course race since he finished second at Sonoma in 2022. The 2024 Sonoma race makes it 13 straight races for Buescher.


"It was a heck of a day," Buescher said. "Really proud of everybody on this BuildSubmarines.com Ford Mustang. Man, this paint scheme keeps doing us good. We keep getting so close. It was a really good day. We knew it was going to be a tough one where we started, and just didn’t get to where we needed to yesterday.


"Ultimately my team did a great job on strategy, and I got the car a lot better. We were in a good place, just needed a little bit more long run pace, maybe a little bit more spill together."


19 different drivers earned stage points at Sonoma, with Todd Gilliland being the only driver to get stage points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Repco Supercars Championship drivers Cam Waters and Will Brown made their Cup Series debuts.


Unfortunately, both drivers suffered mechanical issues, with Brown finishing 31st in the No. 33 Mobile X/Shaw and Partners Chevrolet.


Meanwhile, Waters finished 35th in his No. 60 AUKUS/BuildSubmarines.com Ford.


"I definitely want to do it again, so hopefully I can get the call-up and hopefully something doesn’t clash on the track and I can come over and have another crack," Waters said.


GRID Ranking

The 2024 GRID Ranking is the eighth year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 7.


The official ranking includes drivers that participate in seven racing series (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP), and each driver earns GRID Ratings, which help determine their seeding in the GRID Ranking.

DRIVER

OLD RATING

PREVIOUS RANKING

MOST RECENT FINISH

NEW RATING

NEW RANKING

Kyle Larson

11.73

T-21st

1st

13.06

15th

Denny Hamlin

13.64

T-11th

38th

12.38

18th

William Byron

13.43

14th

30th

12.19

19th

Brad Keselowski

13.21

16th

13th

12.00

T-21st

Christopher Bell

11.21

24th

9th

10.37

25th

Week 10 of the GRID Ranking:

After a Kyle Larson victory and unfortunate days for both Denny Hamlin and William Byron, the NASCAR GRID Rating saw a change at the top with Larson taking the lead over Hamlin.


The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, June 16. Coverage of the inaugural Cup Series race at Iowa will begin at 7 p.m. ET on USA Network.


GRID Network

GRID YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@gridranking

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