7 things drivers said to start out Sonoma race weekend
Sonoma Raceway is a tricky 1.99-mile road course with 12 turns and lots of elevation that is totally unique to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit.
Here are seven things drivers had to say after Friday's only two practice sessions, leading into today's qualifying at 2:45 p.m. ET on FS1. (Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 will also be on FS1, with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET).
Elliott wrecked hard in Friday's second and final practice, causing considerable damage to his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
"I just made a mistake," Elliott said. "It was really my fault. I hate it for my teammates on the No. 24 team. They sure don’t deserve it. They worked hard this past week to get this car ready to come out here a long way from home. So, (I) made a mistake and we shouldn’t be having that.”
As a Cup rookie, Jones acknowledged there is a huge learning curve for him on the road course.
"I don’t have a lot of road-course experience anyways and then to get thrown into the fire is tough," he said. "I wish we could do any kind of testing anywhere. It’s hard to show up and get out there to do it. Just one of those things where you're trying to learn and you make a mistake.”
Day, who is driving the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing, will become the first Israeli-born driver to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday. He talked about how NASCAR has gained popularity in Israel, a country that once banned motorsports.
"I think the fact that it (was) illegal makes it so big," Day said. "I think every illegal thing in the world, you always have more people who want it, you know. The fact that it was illegal in Israel makes people want it even more and more, and now when it's legal, it's kind of exploding.
"That's the reason why we have so many fans in Israel who are cheering and watching NASCAR now ... Until a few years ago, I don't think people knew what NASCAR is."
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With one of his eight career Cup wins, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Sonoma, Bowyer loves this place. But he's not sure why and he's still lamenting last year's last-place finish that came about because of an electrical fire that consumed his car early on.
"I have no idea how this became one of my best tracks," Bowyer said. "It sucks that my stats got knocked down by catching on fire five laps into the race last year."