NASCAR racing fans revved up for Sonoma Raceway weekend

NASCAR racing weekend has officially kicked off at the Sonoma Raceway with 50,000 people expected to pack the grandstands for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday.

The excitement just started to rev up on Friday afternoon with NASCAR practice and the ARCA cars hitting the track.

"It’s an absolute blast," said Bennett Gooch III of Redding. "I love NASCAR. To have it in our backyard is awesome."

The track in Sonoma County’s wine country is not the traditional oval-shaped motor speedway. As a result, crews are spending extra time and effort to make sure their cars are prepared to handle the twists and turns.

"We’re not just turning left, we’re turning left and right and we want to make sure the cars rotating both ways," road mechanic Manny Leach said. "Make sure we have good drive off the corners, so we can make good time every lap."

The stars of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series include 2022 Sonoma winner Daniel Suarez and Elk Grove native Kyle Larson.

Larson considers Sonoma Raceway his home track and won the race in 2021. He also has captured the pole award five consecutive times, giving him the lead starting position.

Race fans got to see some of the cars getting tuned up and rolling out Friday afternoon.

"I like to see the cars go fast, bring my son down here, get a little time at the track, do some camping, and have a few cold ones," said Jason Arnold of Seattle.

From the sights to the sounds to the smells, there is no shortage of entertainment and food.

"Tacos, nachos, quesadillas – you can’t go wrong," said Michael Carroll who brought his wife and two young sons. "Just take it all in, experience the races and relax."

The Carrolls, like many fans are camping near the track and spending the entire weekend at Sonoma Raceway.

Tickets start at $59 for general admission and children under 12 are free Saturday and $10 Sunday.

A pre-race concert and air show is planned for Sunday. A Ferris wheel, fan experience, and merchandise is also available. 

For some, it’s their first time seeing a professional race and visiting the track.

"This is one of the jewels of part of the area where we live," said Ted Fullmer of Santa Rosa. "It’s a pleasure to come out."

But for die-hard fans, nothing has slowed them down from living life at – or on – the track.

"Been coming here since the early 90s before my son was born," said, Bennett Gooch Jr. "Once he was born we knew we were going to put him in a race car. We’ve lived the dream ever since and we wouldn’t want to miss a race."

Brooks Jarosz is a reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU