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NASCAR at Sonoma live race updates, results, highlights from the Toyota Save Mart 350

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NASCAR at Sonoma live race updates, results, highlights from the Toyota Save Mart 350

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will turn to its third of seven road courses for the 2021 season on Sunday as racers prepare to take on Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota Save Mart 350.

Chase Elliott is the favorite heading into Sunday’s race, having won five of the last six road courses — including the most recent, the Circuit of the Americas, on May 23. He is also NASCAR’s active leader in road course victories with six. Yet despite his run of recent success, Elliott has not yet won at Sonoma.

Moreover, Martin Truex Jr. is the two-time defending champion at Sonoma, having last won the event in 2019 (the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He won his first race there in 2013, making him the active leader in wins at the track.

MORE: Watch today’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

Will either of Elliott or Truex win on Sunday, or will another racer take the crown at Sonoma? There’s NASCAR Cup Series points leader Denny Hamlin, who despite having no victories this year has 11 top-10 finishes, including nine in the top five. Then there’s Kyle Larson, whose dominance at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, N.C., made him only the second driver with multiple wins this season (the other being Truex, with three wins).

Sporting News is tracking live updates and highlights at Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota Save Mart 350:

NASCAR at Sonoma live updates, highlights from Toyota Save Mart 350

This section will be updated closer to the waving of the green flag.

NASCAR start time today

The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., is scheduled to wave at 4:14 p.m. ET.

Drivers can expect to race in good weather. The National Weather Service forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s at the road course. Wind could become an issue with gusts up to 32 mph possible.

NASCAR starting lineup at Sonoma

Here is the complete NASCAR starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, the Toyota Save Mart 350:

Start pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
2 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
3 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
4 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
5 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
6 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
7 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
8 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
9 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
10 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
11 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
12 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
13 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
15 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
16 Daniel Suarez 99 Trackhouse Racing Team
17 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
18 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
19 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
20 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
21 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
22 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
23 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
24 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
25 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
26 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
27 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
28 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
29 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
30 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
31 Ben Rhodes 77 Spire Motorsports
32 James Davison 15 Rick Ware Racing
33 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing
34 Garrett Smithley 53 Rick Ware Racing
35 Scott Heckert 78 Live Fast Motorsports
36 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing
37 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing

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Chris Paul, NBA Twitter react to Deandre Ayton’s game-winning dunk in Suns vs. Clippers

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Chris Paul, NBA Twitter react to Deandre Ayton's game-winning dunk in Suns vs. Clippers

Deandre Ayton was the hero for the Suns in their Game 2 win over the Clippers.

With less than a second left on the clock, the Suns were down one point and had just 0.9 seconds to get a shot off. Jae Crowder inbounded the ball on the baseline under the Suns’ basket and found Ayton cutting to the hoop.

Ayton threw it down. The play took just 0.2 seconds off the clock and sealed the 104-103 win for the Suns.

Here’s a look at the amazing finish.

Ayton and Crowder deserve a bulk of the credit, but Devin Booker had an impact on the finish as well. His physical screen on Ivica Zubac — who is seven inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Booker — gave Ayton just enough space to get open off the cut and throw down the dunk.

And Booker put his body on the line despite playing with a bloodied nose that required stitches after an inadvertent hit from Patrick Beverley earlier in the game.

The Suns’ finish thrilled Phoenix fans as well as the team’s star point guard Chris Paul, who missed his second straight game in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. He took time to celebrate the victory on Twitter and praised coach Monty Williams for his “big-time play call.”

Indeed, it was a nice play call, and Williams made sure Ayton was prepared to dunk immediately after catching the ball.

“DA — if he throws it, you gotta try to dunk it,” Williams said. “Okay?”

Ayton was ready and obliged. As a result of his make, NBA Twitter erupted and celebrated the exciting end to yet another tightly-contested playoff battle. 

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How Suns perfectly executed game-winning play — and why goaltending didn’t apply on Deandre Ayton’s dunk

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How Suns perfectly executed game-winning play — and why goaltending didn't apply on Deandre Ayton's dunk

Back in December 2017, the Suns and Grizzlies found themselves in a down-to-the-wire contest. Phoenix had the ball with just 0.6 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 97.

So what did then-Suns coach Jay Triano do? He unveiled a play that he had kept in his back pocket for years.

MORE: Chris Paul reacts to Deandre Ayton’s game-winning dunk

While standing on the sideline near the Grizzlies’ bench, Dragan Bender threw a pass toward Tyson Chandler that floated directly above the rim, giving Chandler the opportunity to slam it through the bottom of the net. Wait, you can do that?

“You cannot goaltend a ball that isn’t going to count,” Triano told reporters after the game.

More than three years later, Triano’s words were once again ringing throughout Phoenix Suns Arena. Coach Monty Williams drew up a similar play on Tuesday night, and his players executed it perfectly to give the Suns a stunning 104-103 win over the Clippers and a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.

Look at this beauty:

OK, let’s break down what NBA TV’s Matt Winer called “The Valley Oop.” (Great work, Matt).

First, notice the positioning of DeMarcus Cousins. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue made a smart move by putting Cousins on Jae Crowder in order to make an inbound pass more difficult, but Cousins is squared up to Crowder, opening up the passing lane Crowder needs.

As for the action in the paint, Devin Booker sets a terrific screen on Ivica Zubac, allowing Deandre Ayton to break free. Could Nicolas Batum have bumped Ayton and recovered? Possibly, but he is understandably concerned with leaving Booker.

(NBA)

Once Ayton gets a step on Zubac running toward the basket, it’s on Crowder to put the ball in a spot in which Ayton can score. As you can see from the angle below, Crowder just narrowly avoids the backboard. The placement here is simply incredible.

“That’s definitely Jae’s game-winner,” Ayton said after the game.

deandre ayton suns play
(NBA)

Now, you may still be asking, “But why isn’t that a goaltending violation?”

As the NBA explained in its Last Two Minute Report from that December 2017 game, “Goaltending rules do not apply because (Chandler) makes contact with the ball off of a throw-in and not a live ball that has already legally been touched on the playing court.” Scott Foster, who served as the crew chief on Tuesday, offered the same explanation when asked about Ayton’s dunk.

Sometimes less than a second can be all the time in the world. Just ask any Suns fan.

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Clippers’ Paul George misses crucial free throws in stunning Game 2 loss to Suns

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Clippers' Paul George misses crucial free throws in stunning Game 2 loss to Suns

The box score from Tuesday’s Suns-Clippers game — a pivotal Game 2 win for Phoenix in the Western Conference finals — will show Paul George had a decent game.

Twenty-six points, on 10-of-23 shooting; six assists; six rebounds; and 5-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. He also scored his team’s last six points, all within the last minute, to help the Clippers to a 103-102 lead with just 8.2 seconds remaining.

The only stats that ultimately mattered in the Clippers’ 104-103 loss, however, were the final two free throws George — a career 84.7-percent free throw shooter — missed. They ultimately allowed Phoenix a chance at an unbelievable comeback victory, which may prove costly even as the series heads back to LA.

NBA MOCK DRAFT 2021: Who will Pistons, Rockets take with top picks?

Had George sunk both of those shots, the Suns would have needed a 3-pointer just to send the game to overtime. Had he sunk even one shot, they would have needed a 2-pointer. But he missed both, allowing the Suns to win on an inbound dunk with less than a second remaining:

Credit to Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder and the Suns. That play will go down as one of the top plays in NBA playoffs history. But every heartbreaking loss needs a goat, and no one fits the bill better than “Playoff P,” who could have secured a win for his team with the simplest of basketball scoring plays.

Here’s the bright side for the Clippers, if there is one: They have already overcome 2-0 deficits in each of their first two series against the Mavericks and Jazz, respectively. That’s likely a cold comfort as George and Co. head back to LA, however. The scathing Twitter comments aimed at George likely won’t do anything to help, either:

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