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Race report

NASCAR Cup Sonoma: Pit strategy propels Larson to third win of the season

Kyle Larson navigated a rash of early cautions and used a late pit strategy to win the NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma.

Many of the planned race strategies went awry with seven cautions in the first 41 laps and that prompted Larson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels to run him as long as possible in the final stage before making his last pitstop.

Once Larson finally stopped, he cycled into eighth but with much fresher tyres he sliced through the field to take the lead with eight laps to go.

Martin Truex Jr was the first to catch leader Chris Buescher with nine laps to go and moved into the lead exiting Turn 11, but the much quicker Larson easily navigated Truex to reclaim the top spot a lap later.

From there, Larson ended up taking the win by 4.258 seconds over Michael McDowell as last year’s race winner Truex ran out of fuel on the final lap while running second.

"I didn't know what we were doing as far as strategy," Larson said after the race. "I was just out there banging laps away. I don't know, we study all the strategy, but it's like doing homework. I don't really know what I'm looking at.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Gold Filters Chevrolet Camaro

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NAPA Gold Filters Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

"I was like, 'Well, man, these guys are going to have to pit another time maybe.' Then we said we had to go race and pass these guys, I got a bit nervous. I knew I'd be quick from the get-go but I thought once the tyres would come up to temperature it would even off too much."

Larson, who secured his third win of the 2024, the 26th of his career and second at his home track, added that he was aided by Truex's efforts to run down Buescher for the lead.

"Thankful that those guys got racing and Martin never got clear, that really saved the race. I thought 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 the apex', and sure enough, he did, and I had a big run."

Buescher ended up third, with Chase Elliott fourth and Ross Chastain rounded out the top five. Truex ended up 27th and the last car on the lead lap.

Supercars stars Cam Waters and Will Brown – both making their Cup Series debut – struggled through difficult days. Brown finished 31st, three laps down, while Waters retired from the race after 66 laps with suspension damage.

NASCAR Cup Sonoma - Race results

   
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Cla Driver # Manufacturer Laps Time Interval Pits Points Retirement
1 United States K. Larson Hendrick Motorsports 5 Chevrolet 110

2:56'13.806

  4 48  
2 United States M. McDowell Front Row Motorsports 34 Ford 110

+4.258

2:56'18.064

4.258 6 40  
3 United States C. Buescher RFK Racing 17 Ford 110

+6.453

2:56'20.259

2.195 5 44  
4 United States C. Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9 Chevrolet 110

+10.873

2:56'24.679

4.420 5 40  
5 United States R. Chastain TrackHouse Racing 1 Chevrolet 110

+11.089

2:56'24.895

0.216 5 36  
6 United States A. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing 16 Chevrolet 110

+13.899

2:56'27.705

2.810 6    
7 United States R. Blaney Team Penske 12 Ford 110

+18.855

2:56'32.661

4.956 6 39  
8 United States T. Reddick 23XI Racing 45 Toyota 110

+19.915

2:56'33.721

1.060 5 39  
9 United States C. Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Toyota 110

+21.946

2:56'35.752

2.031 6 28  
10 United States T. Gilliland Front Row Motorsports 38 Ford 110

+24.091

2:56'37.897

2.145 5 31  
11 United States C. Lajoie Spire Motorsports 7 Chevrolet 110

+27.192

2:56'40.998

3.101 8 28  
12 United States K. Busch Richard Childress Racing 8 Chevrolet 110

+37.983

2:56'51.789

10.791 9 32  
13 United States B. Keselowski RFK Racing 6 Ford 110

+37.984

2:56'51.790

0.001 6 29  
14 Mexico D. Suarez TrackHouse Racing 99 Chevrolet 110

+38.868

2:56'52.674

0.884 5 26  
15 United States A. Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 48 Chevrolet 110

+42.466

2:56'56.272

3.598 5 28  
16
Z. Smith Spire Motorsports
71 Chevrolet 110

+42.889

2:56'56.695

0.423 9 21  
17
C. Hocevar Spire Motorsports
77 Chevrolet 110

+43.212

2:56'57.018

0.323 5 20  
18 United States R. Preece Stewart-Haas Racing 41 Ford 110

+47.576

2:57'01.382

4.364 7 28  
19 United States E. Jones Legacy Motor Club 43 Toyota 110

+51.769

2:57'05.575

4.193 5 22  
20 United States B. Wallace 23XI Racing 23 Toyota 110

+56.375

2:57'10.181

4.606 6 17  
21 United States J. Logano Team Penske 22 Ford 110

+57.011

2:57'10.817

0.636 10 18  
22 United States A. Cindric Team Penske 2 Ford 110

+58.460

2:57'12.266

1.449 6 15  
23 United States K. Grala Rick Ware Racing 15 Ford 110

+59.982

2:57'13.788

1.522 10 14  
24 United States R. Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 47 Chevrolet 110

+1'03.203

2:57'17.009

3.221 8 13  
25 United States H. Burton Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ford 110

+1'06.499

2:57'20.305

3.296 9 13  
26 United States N. Gragson Stewart-Haas Racing 10 Ford 110

+1'08.282

2:57'22.088

1.783 6 11  
27 United States M. Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Toyota 110

+2'05.551

2:58'19.357

57.269 8 18  
28 United States D. Hemric Kaulig Racing 31 Chevrolet 109

+1 Lap

2:56'28.760

1 Lap 8 9  
29 United States J. Nemechek Legacy Motor Club 42 Toyota 109

+1 Lap

2:56'56.026

27.266 10 8  
30 United States W. Byron Hendrick Motorsports 24 Chevrolet 108

+2 Laps

2:56'55.194

1 Lap 14 7  
31 Australia W. Brown Richard Childress Racing 33 Chevrolet 107

+3 Laps

2:57'16.632

1 Lap 10 6  
32 J. Berry Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Ford 95

+15 Laps

2:38'17.051

12 Laps 7 5 Suspension
33 United States J. Haley Rick Ware Racing 51 Ford 88

+22 Laps

2:30'35.668

7 Laps 7 4 Steering
34 United States C. Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Ford 73

+37 Laps

2:10'11.363

15 Laps 9 3 Transmission
35 Australia C. Waters RFK Racing 60 Ford 66

+44 Laps

2:05'05.557

7 Laps 10 2 Accident
36 United States A. Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevrolet 39

+71 Laps

1:22'20.626

27 Laps 6 1 DVP
37
T. Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing
54 Toyota 16

+94 Laps

26'08.777

23 Laps 3 1 DVP
38 United States D. Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Toyota 2

+108 Laps

2'43.021

14 Laps 2 1 Engine

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