SONOMA, Calif. — NASCAR drivers can do hard things.
And one of the hardest of the things they do is to go road racing, which they will do in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
Why is road racing so hard?
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As 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne explained Saturday morning at Sonoma, even minor mistakes have a multiplying effect around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile course.
And without a fast car, your chances of running well aren’t good.
“You can’t make up for what your car can’t do here,” said Bayne.
The typical mistake at Sonoma is to enter a corner too hard and overdrive it. Here, that’s a huge problem.
“We overdrive a lot of corners (at other tracks), but it doesn’t show up as much,” said Bayne. “Here, you can’t recover. You overdrive the corner and your brakes are locked up and you’re wheel-hopping. There’s no grip to recover.”
At Bristol, Bayne said, overdriving a corner means washing up one quarter of a lane.
“And then you get back down and you lose two-tenths (of a second) a lap,” Bayne said. “Here, you overdrive the corner and you’re wheel-hopping and you’re not going to make it.
“That’s what makes it so hard for guys who race road-racing cars to come here and drive a Cup car at Sonoma,” said Bayne. “The grip level, the edge is so sharp. And you’re trying to creep up on it, but you don’t know where it is. And when you hit it, you’re gone.”
It’s not like running light, nimble vehicles.
“Go-Kart racing, you can throw them around, slide ‘em, bounce off stuff and no big deal,” said Bayne. “These (cars), if you miss it, you’re losing a second and you’re in the dirt. So, just a really fine edge to this place and you’ve got to be as close to it as you can. But if you go over it, it really does bite you.”