CONCORD, N.C. – With the most road course wins at the NASCAR Cup Series level (25), Hendrick Motorsports has been the team to beat when it comes to tracks where drivers turn left and right. 

Since 1984 when the team was formed, the organization has won 29% of all the road course races run (25 of 86). Of late, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have led the way in a stretch that has seen Hendrick Motorsports win 10 of the last 15 road courses races run. Five of those victories came in last year’s seven road races. 

Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway in California marks the second of six road courses on the 2022 schedule. The March race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) was the first (and the first with the Next Gen car) and saw Alex Bowman finish second in that event. Still to come are Road America (July 3), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course (July 31), Watkins Glen International (Aug. 21) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (Oct. 9).

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Elliott’s seven wins on road courses and his 7.7 average finish are the best among active drivers in the sport’s top series. Half of his 14 career Cup victories have come on that track type. The 26-year-old already ranks third all-time on road course wins behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart (eight) and Jeff Gordon (nine). Over the past three seasons, Elliott has won two road races in each season. 

Sonoma is one of two road courses on the schedule the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has yet to win at (the Indianapolis Road Course is the other), but the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL was the runner-up finisher to Larson there last year. He has two top-fives and three top-10s in five starts there.

"Sonoma (Raceway) has been a place that has been a pretty big challenge for me in the past," Elliott said. "Last season, I felt like it was the best I’ve ever been there. We were pretty good late in the race and I was really proud of that effort by our NAPA team. With having one road course race down with this new car and having some learnings from COTA, I’m hopeful that we can put together another strong run like we did last year."

Last year’s race at Sonoma was the first of three road course wins for Larson en route to the 2021 Cup championship. In that race, the Elk Grove, California, native swept the stages and that was just the second time that a driver swept the stages and won a race at the road course – Elliott was the other to do this at Watkins Glen in 2019. In his last seven road course races, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished in the top three five times. Since the start of 2021, he has led the most laps this track type (124). Prior to joining Hendrick Motorsports, the 29-year-old driver had not won a road race. 

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In the 2021 Sonoma race won by Larson, the layout with "the carousel" was utilized and the course was 2.52 miles long. This year’s race will see "the chute" portion of the track return - the stretch of raceway connecting turn four to turn seven and the course will measure 1.99 miles. 

"The track layout will be a different element compared to the last couple trips we’ve made there," No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels said. "We’ll place a little more emphasis on right-hand turns because so much focus was placed on the carousel and the left-hand turning capability of the car – and now we don’t race that portion of the track. It’s just going to race differently."

Bowman has been a sneaky good road course racer during his time at Hendrick Motorsports. The 29-year-old has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last 11 road races and has two top-10s in his last three Sonoma starts. His 10.94 average finish in 16 road course starts since joining the organization is fourth-best during that time frame. 

The Tucson, Arizona, native was in the mix to win late at COTA in March - he was the runner-up finisher - and ran the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race the day before at the Texas track. He will run the Truck Series race on Saturday at the California course to get more seat time ahead of Sunday’s Cup race in the No. 48 Ally/Better Together Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

"I think it’s important to get as many laps as I can in before getting in the No. 48 Ally Chevy on Sunday," Bowman said. "Last time we ran the No. 7 Spire truck (at COTA), we had a ton of speed and I think it helped me learn the track which helped me be fast in the Cup race. Obviously, it didn’t end the way I wished, but ultimately, the experience can only make me better."

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Byron has been a strong qualifier on road courses – nabbing the pole position for three of the last five road races where qualifying has taken place. Since the start of 2021, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has led the fourth-most laps on that track type (51) with teammates Larson and Elliott ranking 1-2 in that category. In the last two Sonoma races where qualifying occurred, the 24-year-old driver started inside the top eight in both.

In the 2019 race, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was aggressive on the stage point front – totaling up 18 stage points and his first stage win. Differing strategies will likely be at play on Sunday with some drivers going all out for stage points and trying to maximize their point day to boost their position in the standings, while others could elect to forgo stage points to best position themselves for a run at the win. In the two previous races on "the chute" layout (2017-18), the race winner did not score any stage points. 

"We had to approach this race differently in the past strategy-wise and focus more on capturing as many points as possible," Byron said. "Coming into this race with 13 playoff points already, I think we’re in a better position to utilize a different strategy this time around."

Will Hendrick Motorsports spill the wine in victory lane with an eighth victory at Sonoma to add it to its Cup-best total of 41 West Coast wins? Tune in on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to find out.