Sonoma Raceway is revving up for a full weekend of racing, with entertainment beginning Friday morning and continuing through Sunday with multiple races, new track amenities for fans and special events with legendary drivers.
To help fans get there without hassle, on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Bureau will offer a free round-trip shuttle from downtown Sonoma to the track.
At noon and again at 3:30 p.m., Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will run practice laps.
On Saturday, aspiring kid racers will compete in the STEM Race Car Challenge in victory lane. From 10-11 a.m., elementary students from more than 30 Bay Area schools will go head-to-head in a gravity-powered car challenge.
Just before noon, NASCAR drivers will race in two elimination rounds to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s race. The first round will last 25 minutes and include all cars. The fastest 12 cars advance to the final round.
The final qualifying round will last 10 minutes and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1 through 12.
The first 100 kids 12 and under to check in and claim a wristband at the Breaking Zone and Kids Club Booth, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, can attend an autograph session with NASCAR stars including Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
Saturday’s racing action kicks off at 1:30 p.m. with the 64-lap Carneros 200 NASCAR Pro Series West race.
Up and coming stars of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will compete, as well as 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.
Ryan Blaney, coming off his first NASCAR Cup Series victory a week ago at Pocono, will race, as will 2016 Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suárez.
The field of 35 drivers includes four local drivers: Will Gallaher of Santa Rosa, Rodd Kneeland of Sonoma, Derek Thorn of Lakeport and Jim Inglebright of Fairfield. Kneeland is a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender.
The West Series event will give the drivers extra track time before Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series main event.
To round off a day in the sun, fans might want to stop by for happy hour at the Turn 7 RevZone with entertainment by California Dueling Pianos from 4-6 p.m.
The two-man California Dueling Pianos show features a combination of sing a-long, comedy, dedications, dancing and audience participation. Fans can request their favorite songs from just about any era for the dueling piano wizards.
Sunday is the big day for racing with the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the first road course in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series and the halfway mark in the series season.
Fans can arrive by train from the Sacramento area or buses from throughout California. Gates open at 7 a.m. for vehicles.
First thing on Sunday, 2017 Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch will participate in a 9 a.m. question and answer session at the RevZone at Turn 7.
At 10:15, prerace ceremonies begin with stunt-plane aerobatics by pilot Brad Wursten before a 10:30 80th birthday party and Q&A with “The King” Richard Petty.
The Patriot Jet Team Air Show precedes driver introductions at 11:20 a.m. before the big race begins at noon.
What You Need To Know
What: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Where: Sonoma Raceway
When: Qualifying Saturday, 11:45 a.m.; race Sunday, noon
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: 1050 AM
2016 winner: Tony Stewart
Tickets and packages: 800-870-7223 or www.sonomaraceway.com
Note: Gates open at 10 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday
More information: Download the Sonoma Raceway App for details