Brown Leads Chevrolet in NASCAR Cup Series Practice Session at Sonoma Raceway

NKP #33: Will Brown, Richard Childress Racing, Mobile X / Shaw and Partners Chevrolet Camaro

  In his first-ever laps behind the wheel of a Next Gen Camaro ZL1, Will Brown led Chevrolet on the speed chart at the conclusion of the 50-minute NASCAR Cup Series practice at Sonoma Raceway – placing his No. 33 Mobile X / Shaw and Partners Camaro ZL1 third-fastest overall.

·       Five drivers from four different Chevrolet organizations posted top-10 lap times in their Camaro ZL1’s, with Brown leading Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively; Spire Motorsports’ Zane Smith in the eighth position; and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain in the ninth position. 

Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway: 

• In 34 NCS races at Sonoma Raceway, Chevrolet leads the series with 13 all-time victories. 

• Victories by active Chevrolet drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway:  

Kyle Busch – two wins (2015, 2008)

Daniel Suarez – one win (2022)

Kyle Larson – one win (2021)

Chevrolet on Road Courses in the NASCAR Cup Series: 

• Chevrolet has earned 18 victories in the past 23 NASCAR Cup Series road course events (Chase Elliott: Watkins Glen International in August 2019 – William Byron: Circuit of The Americas in March 2024. 

• In 12 NASCAR Cup Series road course races in the Next Gen era, Chevrolet leads the series with eight victories – recorded by six drivers from four different Chevrolet organizations. 

• Chevrolet has recorded 65 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins on road courses – starting with Buck Baker at Watkins Glen International in 1957.

Drivers in the top-10 positions of the NASCAR Cup Series points standings met with the media following the series’ 50-minute practice session on the newly repaved Sonoma Raceway.

Team Chevy Driver Quotes: 

Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Pride Camaro ZL1 – 4th fastest overall in practice

What are your thoughts on the repave? Is it good.. did you see anything coming up? 

“I didn’t see anything coming up and I didn’t feel anything. It would be a little difficult to probably see from the racecar. But I think the repave seemed to be fine for us. I feel like our No. 48 Ally Pride Chevy is OK. I think passing is going to be incredibly difficult, so we just really have to focus on qualifying. We made a qualifying run there at the end. I’m sure a lot of people did with the practice that we had. I felt pretty good about it, so we’ll see how we stack up tomorrow and go from there.”

How will turn 11 be different with the wall? Will you have to drive it differently or pass differently there? 

“Yeah, I don’t think we really have to drive it differently. I think it’s just odd with the way that it was pieced together. It’s very jagged. It’s kind of inviting you to get under the rumble strip on entry because the wall starts further in and then gets higher as you go around the corner. So I can see if you get under somebody, it’s going to be really easy for someone to kind of force you down into that wall. You could probably break a toe link pretty easily, but hopefully we’re not in that situation. It’s the same for everybody, right? We all just have to race it the best we can. It’ll be a little bit different, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Are you having to manage tires a little bit less with the repave? 

“No, I think they’re just sensitive in different ways, probably. This place is still really slick. The pavement is so smooth that there’s not a lot to get ahold of. You still have sections – like in between (turns) four and seven, it looks like the inside was paved and the outside wasn’t paved. So, you’re still chewing up the left-rear tire across there. Or if it was paved, it’s just really coarse in one section of the track. There are some differences, but you’re still going to have to manage your tires. Even with as much fall-off as there were in years past, you’d see guys stay out and stay up front. It’s so hard to pass here with this car that track position is going to be key, for sure.”

Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Gold Filters Camaro ZL1 – 5th fastest overall in practice

How much do you think about Sonoma Raceway, being the one road course that you haven’t won yet? 

“Yeah, I would love to check the box, for sure. I feel like we’ve been close to getting a road course win with this car a couple of times, so it’d be cool to get over that hump and get one.” 

Tire fall-off is a little different and it’s not wear related, but it’s heat related. Is tire management going to play as big of a role in this race on Sunday? 

“It honestly got to where it didn’t play as much of a role as you would think. Everyone was so similar in the past few races. Even when the tire wear was there, it’s like you could save a little. But when it came time for you to push to go and try and catch the guy you thought might have jumped out there too far, you end up burning it up before you ever get to him.” 

William Byron, No. 24 Camaro ZL1 – 23rd fastest overall in practice

Byron on his thoughts following the NASCAR Cup Series practice session on the repaved Sonoma Raceway: 

“The track has the same characteristics as what it was in the past, really. Just trying to work on our car to get it to do the things we need it to do. There was a little bit of a surprise on the traits of the car and what we need to work on, but we’ve got some good teammates to lean on.”

You were third-fastest in five-lap average..

“I just didn’t feel good on new or old tires. I felt OK for the mid-portion, but the mid-portion here is like eight laps. So, I feel like we have a lot of work to do. We’ll just have to lean on some of the notes we have there.”

What did you think of the asphalt? 

“I thought it was fine. I think the wall in turn 11 is a little weird. It’s just a little bit blind going in there. There used to be a little bit of a visual to the inside to kind of look through the tires and look at the track, so it’s going to be interesting, like side-by-side, how that is. Other than that, I think it’s really fast and it feels like Sonoma (Raceway).”

SVG said there’s a lot more patches than when he was here a month ago. Do you see that, as well?

“Yeah, it looks like turn three kind of has a big patch. That’s the only spot.. well, off of four, into seven, there’s a patch there, as well. Yeah, it looks like they had some work to do there.” 

Do you have confidence that it will hold all weekend? 

“I mean, I’m not super worried about the track. I’m more worried about our car and our performance, but I think it should be fine. It looks really smooth and it looks like they did what they needed to do, so hopefully it holds together.”

Does the wall in turn 11 change how you will race it? 

“I don’t know if it’ll change it, but it will definitely make it hard to see around that corner. If someone is spun out in that corner, you’re going to have to really rely on your spotter because I feel like you won’t be able to see ahead of you as much as before.”

With the speeds being up, is it a little bit more treacherous out there in order to keep it on the track? 

“Yeah, I mean if you break traction, it’s definitely less grip.. less grip relatively to what you’re going to have when you’re kind of in the groove and rolling. So yeah, I think there’s a little bit of that, which is expected with the repave. On a road course, you’re going to have guys missing lines and going off track, so the track is going to be dirty, even in the groove.”

Inside Track Communications PR

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