Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Toyota / Save Mart 350
TRACK: Sonoma Raceway
DRIVER: Kasey Kahne
CAR: No. 95 Procore Camaro ZL1
POINTS POSITION: 219 total points for the season; currently 28th in the driver point standings
Following a weekend off from competition, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned to action this weekend for the series’ first road course race of the season at Sonoma Raceway. The 1.99-mile course challenges teams with tire falloff, and has become a place where various pit strategies have been used to stretch fuel to the limit in order to earn a victory. For Kasey Kahne and his No. 95 Procore team, they were eager to get to work at a track where Kahne enjoys the challenges of the road course and has also won at in the past. The Procore Chevrolet showed good speed throughout the race, but a pair of pit road penalties found the team fighting their way forward through the field twice during Sunday’s race to earn a top-20 finish.
Sunday’s Toyota /Save Mart 350 took the green flag at 12:14 p.m. PST to begin the 110-lap event. Kahne reported in to crew chief Jon Leonard during the opening laps that his No. 95 machine was “tight throttle left” as the team’s spotter told Kahne that his lap times were only a tenth off of the race leaders.
On lap 21, Kahne broke into the top-20, and the next time by, he was in 13th as several teams chose to short-pit leading into the end of Stage 1, which came following lap 25. Leonard had told Kahne that they had opted to wait to pit until the caution at the end of Stage 1. Under the first caution of the afternoon, Leonard asked his driver for feedback regarding the Procore Chevy’s handling, and Kahne told his team that he needed more forward drive.
The Procore Camaro ZL1 hit pit road for service under caution on lap 27 for four tires, fuel, and chassis adjustments, but the call came in over the radio as soon as Kahne left pit road that he had been speeding in section 8. The penalty forced him to line up in 35th for the restart as the race returned to green to start lap 30 and Stage 2.
Stuck back deep in the field, Kahne and the team knew that they had their work cut out for them to make up the track position that had been lost. Just three laps after the restart, Kahne had battled his way up into 29th before the caution came out due to the No.47. Leonard checked in to see if the adjustments from the first stop of the day had helped the Procore Chevy, but Kahne told the team that it was too tough to tell based on being stuck in the traffic at the time. Leonard told his driver to stay out under the caution as the team hoped that several cars might pit and then the No. 95 might be able to make up some ground. There were only a few takers, so Kahne restarted in 25th as the race returned to green to start lap 37.
Once again, Kahne was determined to get back the track position that the No. 95 had lost, and by lap 46, the Procore Chevrolet was up to 21st as several teams once again opted to pit for service before the end of Stage 2 at lap 50. Under the caution, Kahne reported “it gets better as we go” when he was asked about the handling during the last run, so the team serviced the car with four tires and fuel during their lap 52 stop.
Kahne restarted in 26th to begin lap 55 and the final stage of the race. With 56 laps remaining in the race, teams had varied strategies about how many stops they were planning to make in the final stage. The No. 95 team opted to stretch their opening Stage 3 run for as long as they could before hitting pit road for service so that they would hopefully only make one stop during the race’s final stage. Several teams chose to pit starting around lap 70, but Kahne continued to run laps and improve his positioning on the track. By lap 75, Kahne had cracked into the top-10 as his Procore Chevy was running in ninth before the team opted to pit for their Stage 3 stop on lap 82 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, the NASCAR tower called down the team’s second penalty of the afternoon, this time for an uncontrolled tire. The call found the No. 95 having to service a passthrough penalty, and Kahne fell back to 27th.
Kahne used the final 14 laps of the race to make up as much ground as he could in his Procore Camaro ZL1, and in the end, he crossed the line in 20th. Martin Truex, Jr. drove away with his second consecutive Sonoma victory on Sunday afternoon as he earned his third win of the season. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five finishers in Sunday’s race.
2018 Season Summary:
Starts - 16
Wins - 0
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0
Poles - 0
Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile track)
Sunday, July 1, 2018