Sonoma Raceway, which will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in 2019, will do so with a change of layout for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series‘ date there in June. On Saturday, track officials announced the full, 2.5-mile layout will be used for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
The full course utilizes the Carousel, a hairpin turn that goes from Turn 4 through 6 before reaching 7. It was previously used by NASCAR across every series until 1998, when they began running The Chute that bypasses the Carousel. Other series like the IndyCar Series, however, do use the Carousel.
“The Carousel is a corner where history has been made, and as we celebrate the half century of track history in 2019, we are excited to re-introduce this signature turn on the Sonoma Raceway circuit,” Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page stated. “We look forward to seeing a new generation of racers battle through this challenging corner and create moments fans will remember 50 years from now.”
Four-time champion, Northern California resident, and road course veteran Jeff Gordon was on hand for the reveal. Mark Martin won the last race on the full layout in 1997, though Gordon finished behind him in second. In 1998, he won the first race on the shortened track; he would win again in 199 and 2000 to make it a three-race win streak at the circuit. Two more wins in 2004 and 2006 make him the winningest Cup driver at Sonoma. “‘Woo!’ says @JeffGordonWeb, who is here as part of the announcement,” Kelly Crandall tweeted.
On a fitting note that also features right turns, the news arrived a day before the Cup Series’ first race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on Sunday.
The 2019 Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place on 23 June. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner.