Sonoma could be great opportunity for Cup drivers without wins
Who is ready for another first-time winner this season in the Cup Series?
A poll taken of the Cup garage would probably bring back everyone but the six drivers who have hogged Victory Lane through the first 15 races of the season.
Divided among just three teams - Joe Gibbs Racing (nine wins), Team Penske (five) and Hendrick Motorsports (one) - variety among teams has not been in the cards so far.
Enter Sonoma Raceway.
NASCAR makes its first trip to a road course this season with the California circuit, which has been reconfigured for its 50th anniversary with the re-introduction of “The Carousel.”
Sonoma may be a prime opportunity for a winless driver to break through to Victory Lane, according to history.
In 12 of the last 16 seasons, dating back to 2002, the driver who visited victory lane in Sonoma was doing so for the first time that year.
Before 2002, it was done only four times in the track’s first 13 years of holding Cup races, with all four occurring before 1998, when the Cup Series stopped running on the “Carousel.”
Drivers in the field this year who will try to repeat history are Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
Harvick holds the distinction of being the most recent driver to get his first win of the season at Sonoma. He pulled it off in 2017.
Should he repeat the feat, it would be his first win since November’s Texas playoff race (17 races) and be Stewart-Haas Racing’s first of the year. He’d also join Ricky Rudd (1989, 2002) as the only drivers to achieve that twice.
Drivers who earned first win of the year at Sonoma
Event Date Race Winner
6/25/2017 Kevin Harvick
6/26/2016 Tony Stewart (only win that year)
6/28/2015 Kyle Busch
6/23/2013 Martin Truex Jr. (only win)
6/24/2012 Clint Bowyer
6/26/2011 Kurt Busch
6/21/2009 Kasey Kahne
6/24/2007 Juan Pablo Montoya (only win)
6/25/2006 Jeff Gordon
6/26/2005 Tony Stewart
6/22/2003 Robby Gordon
6/23/2002 Ricky Rudd (only win)
5/4/1997 Mark Martin
5/16/1993 Geoff Bodine (only win)
6/7/1992 Ernie Irvan
6/11/1989 Ricky Rudd (only win)