Sonoma Raceway notebook: Packed weekend ahead
A week after the inaugural Sonoma Speed Festival, Sonoma Raceway is set to host another major weekend of racing just two weeks prior to the main event of its 50th anniversary season.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge America series — formerly the Pirelli World Challenge — will host back-to-back races for the first time in its history on Saturday and Sunday, featuring high-speed GT3 race cars from Ferrari, Mercedes AMG, Porsche, Acura, Bentley, BMW and other high-end racing brands.
Both 90-minutes races — one on each day of the weekend – will feature full-service pit stops where cars will have to stop for fuel, tires and possible adjustments to the chassis. Fans will be able to see it all with access to an open paddock, driver autograph session and a grid walk on Sunday. Sonoma Raceway officials tout this weekend as unparalleled to others in terms of access on race day.
K-PAX Racing is based at Sonoma Raceway and will enter two Bentley Continental GTs in each race. The team holds a 26-point lead over R. Ferri Motorsport in the championship standings. Ferri Motorsport’s top two drivers lead the standings while K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek each trail by one point.
Among the more recognizable names racing this weekend will be Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long driving a Porsche, DXDT Racing’s Colin Braun manning the wheel of a Mercedes AMG GT3 and James Sofronas of GMG Racing steering a Porsche around the 12-turn raceway.
Former NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rookie of the year Andy Lally will make his series debut for One11 Competition in a Ferrari. Sonoma’s Dave Cameron will race an Acura NSX for RealTime Racing.
In addition to the GT World Challenge, the Pirelli GT4 America and TC America championships will also run this weekend.
Practice for the GT World Challenge starts Friday at 11:45 a.m. with Saturday’s race starting at 2:45 p.m. and Sunday’s race at 11:15 a.m. The races and qualifying will be streamed live at gt-world-challenge-america.com and Sunday’s race will air live on the CBS Sports Network.
One-day tickets start at $10 for Friday or $30 for Saturday or Sunday, or $50 for a weekend pass. For more information, visit www.sonomaraceway.com/events/blancpain-gt-world-challenge-america-series or call (800) 870-RACE.
Kyle Busch led a race-high 79 laps to cruise to a more than 2-second win over second-place Brad Keselowski on Sunday. His 55th win in the Monster Energy Cup Series tied him with Rusty Wallace for ninth all-time. He’ll have to put in a little more work to get to the next guy on the list — Dale Earnhardt, with 76.
Busch retains a 4-point lead over Joey Logano in the standings, and remains in the top playoff transfer position over Keselowski.
The series travels north to Michigan for this weekend’s FireKeepers Casino 400 before a one-week Father’s Day break before the Sonoma race weekend.
Petaluma Speedway results
Colby Copeland didn’t let three overtime restarts rattle his poise, as he led throughout the main event and after the checkered flag to win the 33-lap Northern Auto Racing Club/King Of The West Sprint Car race on Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway.
Two spinouts on the white flag resulted in restarts, with Copeland coming out on top after the frenzy of green flags to be the third different race winner in as many races.
Nick DeCarlo, a two-time winner at the speedway, won the 20-lap McLea’s Tire Service IMCA Modified Main Event.