Kyle Larson captures the sweep of Sonoma, picks up win #3 this season (6-6-21)

By: Becca Cottingham

Headline Photo Credit: NASCAR Twitter Page

We head to a beautiful part of wine country for a bright day full of road course racing. It is going to be a battle of who can be the most aggressive and pit strategy. Due to no practice, they will have a competition caution for the teams which will be very beneficial to several drivers. Kyle Larson brings us to the green flag and will keep us through right before the competition caution. Martin Truex Jr is making up several spots but he is not the biggest mover of the group. Several drivers did opt to come down before the competition caution to get fresh tires and this will allow them to get fuel only at the competition caution. With only five sets of tires, they are going to be a huge item of discussion for the drivers and the crew chiefs. Martin Truex Jr has made the moves needed to put him where he needs to be very competitive in this race. It looks like they were planning to try to make a pit road stop before the end of the stage. Pit road closes with two to go when the leader passes the start/finish line. Chase Elliott’s crew was going to bring him down pit road before it closes. However, it was already closed for all drivers and they had to call him off until the end of the stage. Kyle Larson will win stage one with Chase Elliott behind him.

Kurt Busch will bring us to the stage two green flag. Kyle Larson and other drivers that waited to pit went back into the field. However, if they have fast cars it does not appear to matter where your car is positioned after a caution. Both Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and other drivers have made moves towards the front. We have a lot of racing going on between a lot of drivers including teammates. Ryan Blaney has damage and is not happy with one of his teammates. While drivers who either did not pit or pitted earlier are slowly falling backward. With roughly nine laps to go, we have Ricky Stenhouse Jr blows a tire and hits the wall very hard. Most everyone hits pit-road while Kyle Larson decides to stay out with a few other drivers. Martin Truex Jr will come in and get off cycle trying to find a different way to beat Kyle Larson. Bubba Wallace has a tire issue where they believe they knocked the valve stem out of the car. He just does make it to pit road as the tire comes off of the car to avoid a caution. Kyle Larson will win stage two.

Kurt Busch will bring us to green for the final stage of Sonoma. Kurt will stay upfront for a little while, but Chase Elliott will quickly pass him and put over a one-second difference between them. They go three-wide going into turn eleven with drivers trying to make passes. Then the battle heats up between Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr, and Kyle Larson. Kyle Larson decides to try to underbreak and passes Martin Truex Jr not long after he passed Kurt Busch. The teammates then go to battle while Martin Truex Jr sits backs and watches them use up their equipment. Drivers will be coming through for green flag pit stops for their last set of sticker tires. Drivers will have to be extremely careful of green-flag pit stops with no mistakes. Mistakes at this point in the race will be costly for the drivers. Quin Houff blows up and tries to safely get off the track but was not able to get off the track and brings out a caution. Brad Keselowski gets on pit road right before the yellow flag waved, but gets hit with their first pit road penalty for the year for equipment over the wall too early. He will have to serve a pass-through penalty when the group goes back to green. This will change the whole track situation and what happens on the track. Almost all drivers on the lead lap came down for tires and fuel. A few drivers will decide to stay out. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr, and Chase Elliott once again make their way back through the field. Kyle Larson makes his way around Joey Logano. With less than fifteen to go there is a huge pile-up with Ross Chastain and Corey LaJoie.This takes wreck collects multiple drives of William Byron, Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, and Erik Jones. Everyone except for William Byron makes it back onto the track as they had damage to the radiator. We get back to racing and we have another wreck with five laps to go. Both Cody Ware and Anthony Alfredo have an issue. This will bring us to a green, white, checkered flag as long as we do not have any issues. However, with as much aggression as we have seen the last several laps, we may see overtime at Sonoma. We end up with over time due to another wreck and this is not what the front runners see. The drama will be high going into the two-lap shootout and everyone will be extremely aggressive. The pressure was high and there were close calls between Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Kyle Larson is just able to keep Chase Elliott behind to take the checkered flag.