SONOMA, Calif. – There was never any doubt that Will Rodgers was the driver to beat on road courses in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. And he delivered. Again.
The 23-year-old NASCAR Next driver capped off a dominate weekend by winning the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday.
The win marks the fourth of Rodgers’ straight NASCAR K&N Pro Series win on a road course, and Saturday’s West victory comes a week after he won the East race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Not even a Sonoma field that included five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers could keep Rodgers from Victory Lane.
Rodgers was fastest in practice at Sonoma, won the pole position for the second year in a row, and led a race-high 35 laps.
“I knew we would have a great car prepared by Jefferson-Pitts Racing” said Rodgers. “We had a great piece and made very minor adjustments, my crew chief Jeff (Jefferson) definitely had the right ideas in mind and it helped us obviously stay first in practice, get the pole and then here we are in victory lane.”
His new name should be “Road Course Rodgers” as @willrodgers65 captures his first #KNWest Victory in the #Carneros200 @RaceSonoma @HannahNewhouse gives you a quick recap on this weekends #KNWest action. pic.twitter.com/0Y0wvOrWkQ
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 24, 2018
Rodgers entered the first five-minute break at Lap 21 as the race leader over Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars William Byron, Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola. Seven cars chose to stay out, including Almirola who took over the race lead. With the fastest cars in the field getting shuffled outside of the top five, the excitement picked up.
Rodgers and Suarez began to put on a show as they battled back inside the top five after the restart. It was Suarez who won the race to the front with a pass for the lead over Almirola on lap 39.
By the second and final break at lap 41 the stage was set: Suarez led with Almirola, Rodgers, Erik Jones and Byron right behind.
On the pursuing restart Almirola got the jump around Suarez and back into the lead. The winning pass, however, came on lap 50 when Rodgers dove to the bottom of Almirola entering the hairpin in Turn 11. Rodgers never looked back as he drove to victory by 4.420 seconds.
Almirola finished second while Byron settled for third.
Suarez finished fourth, just ahead of Ryan Partridge. Partridge took the championship lead by one point over teammate Derek Kraus, who was eighth.
Jones, Hailie Deegan, Thorn, Cole Keatts and Derek Kraus round out the top 10.
The Carneros 200 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, June 28 at 6 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is right back at it on Saturday, June 30 with the Clint Newell Toyota 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore.
- The win marks eight straight road course wins for Jefferson-Pitts Racing.
- After a career best qualifying effort of third, Hailie Deegan finished seventh.
- Derek Thorn entered the race as the series points leader. He was able to recover from a late race incident to finish eighth.
- After fighting for fourth with Suarez, Cole Rouse went around in turn 11 on lap 61. He finished 12th.