If once is a fluke and twice is a trend, what's 6?

Over our last six trips to Sonoma, the guy who was celebrating in Victory Lane was toasting his first Cup win on a road course. For the last four of them…it remains their only win on a road course.

Times have sure changed.

Before this run of first-time winners, you could count the probable winners each year on one hand.  Or maybe one hand a couple of fingers.

So, what's changed?

Gas mileage for one. As these guys have gotten more adept at saving fuel during a run, it's changed the way they run the race. For the most part, pit stops are made on a schedule determined before they ever take the track.

I also think the Chase is a factor. Drivers can no longer afford to start the season basically writing off two races if they hope to make the Chase. You may need those two "mulligans" elsewhere in the first 26.  So, as a result, the drivers are spending a lot more time honing their left-right skills.

Now, don't get me wrong; 25 drivers will walk through the gate saying that they'd "take a top-15 right now and go home" while the others see it as a great opportunity to make up some points.

Just know that the gap has narrowed,and the chances of seeing a first-time road course winner in Victory Lane appear to be pretty good.