Daytona Beach, FL. — All roads eventually wind their way back home.
For three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers this weekend, it’s a road course that turns back towards where it all began: the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. NASCAR’s top developmental series heads to Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, for the Carneros 200 on Saturday.
The 1998 K&N Pro Series West champion, Kevin Harvick, will join recent first-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner Ryan Blaney and current Monster Energy Series rookie Daniel Suarez in the field for the Carneros 200. All three drivers began their respective NASCAR careers at the K&N Pro Series level.
Harvick, the 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, won at Sonoma during his K&N Pro Series West title-winning season. Suarez, a NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Mexico Series champion, has three career K&N Pro Series East wins to his credit, while Blaney — who recently won at Pocono — won his only career K&N Pro Series West start at Arizona’s Phoenix International Raceway in 2011.
“I’m going to be the old guy that shows up,” Harvick said recently. “I have fun when I go do those events… It’s a series that gave me several breaks and several opportunities to showcase what I did as a kid.”
Others to showcase their abilities on Saturday, includes current series points leader Todd Gilliland and his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Chris Eggleston, who sits second in the standings. Gilliland and Eggleston have combined to win all seven of the series’ races this season and both will be looking to redeem themselves after a rough 2016 Carneros 200 showing. Heading into Sonoma, Eggleston has won two straight races to close his deficit in the championship standings to just seven points at the midway point of the season.
RACE: Carneros 200
PLACE: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California
DATE: Saturday, June 24
TIME: 1:30 p.m., PT
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course
2016 WINNER: Chase Elliott
2016 POLE WINNER: Chase Elliott
EVENT SCHEDULE: Friday, June 23 – Garage opens: 10:45 a.m.; Practice: 2-3:20 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 4-4:45 p.m. Saturday, June 24 — Qualifying: 10:15 a.m.; Carneros 200: 1:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Diana Brennan, (707) 334-9822, [email protected]
EVENT HASHTAG: #Carneros200
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142, [email protected]
The Race: The Carneros 200 will be the eighth of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 40 cars. The first 36 starting positions will be set by NASCAR Road Race-style group qualifying and the final four positions will be determined by the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 64 laps (204.966 kilometers/127.36 miles) and will have a five-minute midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 40.
The Track: A 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course, Sonoma Raceway opened in 1968 as Sears Point International Raceway on 720 acres that was a dairy farm in the early 1900s. Since then then the facility has grown to 1,600 acres and hosts 340 days of racing activity each year.
The Records: The series’ qualifying record was established on June 21, 2014 by Kyle Larson at 92.794 mph (77.203 seconds). The 64-lap race record was set on June 19, 2010 by Andrew Ranger at 69.155 mph (1 hour, 50 minutes, 30 seconds).
Race Winners: There have been 18 different winners in the 38 races held all-time at Sonoma. Hershel McGriff (1983, 1985, 1987), Jim Insolo (1978, 1979, 1980) and Bill Schmitt (1981, 1988, 1989) lead the category with three wins each. Insolo is the only driver in series history to have won three straight races at Sonoma.
Pole Winners: A total of 20 drivers have qualified on the pole at Sonoma. McGriff leads with three poles at Sonoma, while Butch Gilliland, Jim Bown, Roy Smith and Tim Williamson each have two poles at the road course.
CARNEROS 200 NOTES:
Cup Runneth Over: Non-series regulars have enjoyed success at Sonoma in recent history. Four of the last six winners at Sonoma have been scored by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, including Chase Elliott in last year’s event. Kyle Larson won the race in 2014, and Joey Logano and David Gilliland went back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.
In 2010, Andrew Ranger won for the first time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competition at Sonoma. A multi-time NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion, Ranger also won a series road course race at Utah in 2013.
Familiar Turf: Will Rodgers could be primed for a breakthrough performance at Sonoma this weekend.
The driver who comes from a road racing background sits fifth in the current K&N Pro Series West standings with four top fives in seven races this season. He made his series debut at Sonoma in this race last year, and his best finishes in 2016 came in consecutive races at Utah Motorsports Campus where he finished seventh, twice.
Rodgers is a four-time Pirelli World Challenge Series winner and has several wins in Mazda spec automobiles.
One And Done: Of the 14 races on the 2017 schedule, Sonoma marks the only road course race of the season for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. No current full-time driver in the series has won at Sonoma. The last to do so was David Mayhew in 2015.
NASCAR IMC Press Release. Photo Credit: NASCAR IMC