Toyota/Save Mart 350
3:00 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)
The Cup Series is returning to Sonoma for the first time in two seasons.
NASCAR is set to run its first race in the state of California since June of 2019 on Sunday after none of its national series ran at either Sonoma or Auto Club Speedway in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sonoma has typically always been the first road course race of the Cup season. But this year it’s the third after the Daytona road course race replaced the 2021 Auto Club race and all three NASCAR national series ran at Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago.
Sunday’s race is also with a new track layout and rules combination. NASCAR used the longer Sonoma layout with the carousel turns in 2019 for the first time in years. And cars had a lot more downforce in that race than they will on Sunday.
That’s hopefully good news for fans. The 2019 race was a snoozer as stages have helped ruin the strategy aspect of road course racing. The two stage breaks every race have effectively removed alternate pit strategies from the race and drivers had a hard time passing each other — maybe because of the added downforce.
Here’s a look at what you need to know to bet Sunday’s race. Odds are provided by BetMGM. And you won’t be surprised to see who the favorite is.
Chase Elliott, +210
Martin Truex Jr., +375
Kyle Larson, +700
Kyle Busch, +750
Denny Hamlin, +1000
Sonoma is the only road course Elliott has raced at in the Cup Series where he hasn’t won. Yet, anyway. He was eighth in 2017 and fourth in 2018. He finished 37th in 2019 because of an engine issue. Truex is a three-time winner at Sonoma and has won each of the last two races at the track. He’s led a combined 121 laps in those races.
Larson has just one top-10 at Sonoma despite starting on the pole in each of the last three races. Given the way he’s running in 2021, another pole should lead to something better than his current career-best of 10th. Busch has finished in the top seven in each of the past five Sonoma races and Hamlin has four consecutive top-10 finishes.
Good mid-tier value
Joey Logano, +1500
Ryan Blaney, +2000
Logano has two top fives at Sonoma but his most recent came in 2016. He’s been running well enough to reverse that trend and these are tantalizing odds. Blaney was third in 2019 and has two top-10 finishes in four starts.
Don’t bet this driver
William Byron, +1200
Byron has been fantastic so far in 2021 and that’s why his odds are so low. But you shouldn’t bet him because those odds are so low. Byron has started both of his Sonoma races in the top 10 but he’s finished 25th and 19th in those two races. You can find a better bet.
Looking for a long shot?
Matt DiBenedetto, +10000
DiBenedetto finished fourth at Sonoma in 2019 in what was the first top-five finish of his career. DiBenedetto isn’t much of a road course racer — that’s just one of two top-10 finishes on a road course — but maybe he can better that success again in 2021.
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