NASCAR XFINITY Series News & Notes – Sonoma Raceway

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer lands his first road course win

JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier appeared to have the race at Portland International Raceway in the bag last weekend, which would’ve made him the first back-to-back winner of the 2023 season. But he got knocked out in Turn 1, ultimately giving Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer a straight shot to Victory Lane.

The win marked Custer’s first on a road course, first of the 2023 season and the 11th of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career. It also marked the first win by a Ford driver in the Xfinity Series this season.

The 25-year-old driver will now look to carry that winning momentum into yet another weekend of road course racing at Sonoma Raceway.

Although this weekend will be the first time Sonoma Raceway has hosted a NASCAR Xfinity Series race, Custer has an advantage over some of his competitors – he’s made some laps on the California road course.

He’s made two starts at the track in the NASCAR Cup Series (2021, 2022), finishing 20th and 21st, respectively.

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More Road Course Fun: California Wine Country is up next

After some left and right turns at Portland International Raceway last weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be staying in the road course groove with the DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Sonoma Raceway is the third of eight road course races on the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule (Austin, Portland, Sonoma, Chicago, Elkhart Lake, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Charlotte).

This will be the first time the Xfinity Series will be making laps on the Sonoma, California road course but NASCAR is no stranger to running on the track.

There have been 33 NASCAR Cup Series races Sonoma Raceway. The inaugural race was on June 11, 1989, and was won by Ricky Rudd driving a Buick for Kenny Bernstein.

The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series also has a few stints on the road course. They ran at Sonoma from 1995-1998 before taking a 24-year hiatus. The series made a return last season (2022) in a race that saw Kyle Busch take the checkered flag.

NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will hit the track for the very first time for practice at 4:05 p.m. ET on Friday, June 9 followed by Pole Qualifying at 3 p.m. ET on June 10. Both events can be watched on FS1.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: DoorDash 250

The Place: Sonoma Raceway

The Date: Saturday, June 10

The Time: 8 p.m. ET

The Purse: $1,545,934

TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 156.95 miles (79 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 45), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 79)

Another Round: Doubling down in Sonoma

The competition will be sure to heat up as many drivers will look to become a part of this inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway, including seven full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers – Ty Dillon, Daniel Suárez, A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Larson, Ty Gibbs, Ross Chastain and Aric Almirola.

Ty Dillon will be getting behind the wheel of the No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet for his second Xfinity Series start of the 2023 season. Dillon has some experience on the Sonoma road course, he has made four starts in the NASCAR Cup Series with a best finish of 23rd (2022).

Suárez will be piloting the No. 07 SS-Green Light Racing Chevrolet for his first Xfinity Series start since the 2018 season. The 31-year-old former Xfinity Series Champion (2016) knows the Sonoma road course all too well, as he posted his first NASCAR Cup Series win there last season (2022).

Allmendinger, better known as the Xfinity Series’ road course ringer, will be driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. This will be his second Xfinity Series start of the season. His first was at COTA where he won the pole and went on to win the race – his 11th Xfinity Series road course win (series-most). Last season in the Xfinity Series, he posted five wins, four of which were on a road courses (COTA, Portland, Indianapolis RC, Charlotte RC).

Larson is making his second start of the season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series behind the wheel of the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. His first start was at Darlington Raceway where he took the checkered flag. The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champ has started from the pole or first starting position in the last five Cup Series races at Sonoma and found Victory Lane in 2021.

Ty Gibbs will be driving the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for his third Xfinity Series start of the 2023 season. His other starts were at COTA (finished third) and Charlotte (fifth). The 20-year-old driver will be making his debut at Sonoma Raceway this weekend.

Ross Chastain will be making his third Xfinity Series start of the season piloting the No. 91 DGM Racing Chevrolet. He has made three Cup Series starts at Sonoma, posting two top-10 finishes.

Aric Almirola will be driving the No. 28 RSS Racing Ford for his second Xfinity Series appearance of the season. His first start came at COTA where he finished 24th. He has made 10 starts at Sonoma Raceway in the Cup Series, posting two top 10s.

Playoff Outlook: Five spots remaining with 12 races to go

As the series gears up for Sonoma Raceway this weekend, seven drivers have won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season, leaving just five spots available in the 12-driver postseason field. Just past the halfway point, Sonoma is one of 12 races left in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ regular season.

The drivers that have secured their spots in the Playoffs by virtue of wins are John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith and Jeb Burton.

The five drivers that currently hold the remaining Playoff spots on points are Josh Berry (431 points), Sheldon Creed (396 points), Sam Mayer (353 points), Riley Herbst (346 points) and Daniel Hemric (333 points).

Just outside the cutline is Brandon Jones, who has made six Xfinity Series Playoff appearances – second only to Justin Allgaier who was seven Playoff appearances. He’ll be looking to snag his first win of the season at Sonoma Raceway. On road courses earlier this season, he’s posted an 11th-place finish (COTA) and a 13th-place finish (Portland).

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Milestone Watch: Brandon Jones to make 250th Xfinity start – This weekend at Sonoma Raceway, JR Motorsports driver Brandon Jones will make his 250th career start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and his first at Sonoma Raceway.

Jones will become the 43rd different driver in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to reach 250 or more career starts. Kenny Wallace holds the record for the most starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with 547.

NASCAR Cup Series star Ross Chastain will also be competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, making his 200th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start. Chastain will be piloting the No. 91 Chevrolet for DGM Racing this weekend.

Brent Sherman to compete at the Chicago Street Course – Chicago native Brent Sherman will be joining RSS Racing in the No. 28 Ford to run in the inaugural Chicago Street Race next month.

The race will mark his 62nd career start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and his first in a NASCAR national series event since 2009.

“This opportunity just fell into place,” said Sherman. “When the street race was announced, I knew I wanted to explore the chance to get back in a race car. I can’t thank RSS Racing enough for the opportunity to compete in the No. 28. I know I’ll have some challenges with the temperature in Chicago during the summer months, but I’m up for the challenge and have been training to be prepared for it.”

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