Sonoma Raceway will mark its 50th anniversary by reverting to its original 12-turn, 2.52-mile course layout and Carousel section when NASCAR returns in 2019.
“I really enjoyed that course, and I was looking forward to maybe one day getting a victory on that course,” said Jeff Gordon, who competed on both layouts but won his five Sonoma races on the shorter version. “I’m excited. I think this is a great. It adds a completely different element to the technical skills it’s going to take from the drivers. It’s a much more demanding track.
“Not only the Carousel and the great braking and passing zones coming to (Turn) 7, but as you turn off (Turn) 4 there is actually a kink, I think they call it 5 now, a very fast right-hander. We’ve seen some pretty wild video of some things that have happened there when cars have tried to go side-by-side there. So, from a broadcaster standpoint, I’m excited about it because of the new element, the freshness and how it’s going to be different. … And I think the competition is going to be fantastic.”
NASCAR previously used the carousel from 1989 until 1997. Since 1998 the course has been shortened to a 1.99-mile configuration with cars using a bypass to race from Turn 4A straight down to right-hander Turn 7.
“The Carousel is a corner where history has been made, and as we celebrate the half-century of track history in 2019, we are excited to re-introduce this signature turn on the Sonoma Raceway circuit,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager.
“We look forward to seeing a new generation of racers battle through this challenging corner and create moments fans will remember 50 years from now.”
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is scheduled for June 23, 2019. Sonoma Raceway officials say the race is expected to be 85 laps and the race distance will remain at 350 kilometers.