Sonoma Raceway heating up for big NASCAR weekend

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- NASCAR will feature some some big names at the Sonoma Raceway for the big race on Sunday.

They are already gearing up for an estimated 100,000 people who are expected to visit this weekend. Some have already arrived and are camping, so they don't have to deal with the traffic.

The curves make the Sonoma Raceway challenging for drivers and fun for fans. ABC7 News got to take it on in a pace car Friday morning with a NASCAR driver at the wheel who says he crashed here last year.

These 10 turns in two miles can be tough.

"There's so much that goes into one lap here, to get a good lap. You shift probably 10 to 15 times where regular tracks you don't shift at all," driver Todd Gilliland said.

The fans love it. Many of them set up a city high above the track. They stake out their spot on Thursday and camp out until Monday.

"Oh, we love our spot. We have been here for 13 years," Tahoe City resident Mindy Adams said.

But these spots don't come easy. All camping locations are sold out and some are much better than others. She put a deposit down in December for her stellar view. "Usually there is a waiting list for the front row. Our friends that didn't get their deposit in are in the back row," Adams said.

But there are still no guarantees. A huge tent popped up Thursday night in front of them as people's ideas of camping seem to get bigger every year.

"I'm a little bummed out. I was gonna go down there last night but they talked me out of it, just to ask what the heck," Tahoe City resident Mindy Adams said.

But this won't ruin their weekend. They'll go down to the track to catch the action.

Nascar only comes here once a year and this will be Dale Earnhardt Jr's last time to race here.

"I'm really sad. I love Dale Junior. I have since he came on to the circuit. I am really bummed out," Adams said.

Dale Jr. says this track is a challenge for him.

They're expecting more than 100,000 people to come through the raceway this weekend. There are still tickets available. The qualifying round is on Saturday and the big race is Sunday.

If you're not coming, avoid the area. Traffic is expected to be bad, especially on Sunday.

Click here to check out a real-time traffic map to help you navigate around heavy traffic.

Click here for more information on the race.
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