Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Track: Infineon Raceway
Date: Sunday June 22, 2008
Time: 3:30 pm ET
This weekend could prove to be the weekend to end one of the two great drivers dry spell. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have both had far from normal years when it comes to wins, points, and finishes. These are the guys that we are used to seeing in the front of the pack every single weekend, no matter what race track were at. Recently, though, they are running more like rookies. Their finishes have been anywhere from top ten all the way to 43rd. They consistently have bad cars, leading to bad finishes. If there is anyway race that could turn one of these guys luck around, its here, at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.
Sonomas track is nearly a 2 mile 12-turn roadcourse that both Stewart and Gordon have conquered on multiple occasions. For certain drivers, road courses are their enemies. For these guys, its like going home. Road courses are great because they break up the monotony of riding oval tracks, but they also let some other drivers show off their specialties. This weekend, youre sure to hear names like P.J. Jones and Boris Said. Although they may not be Cup regulars, they are certainly road course champions. Gordon and Stewart are going to do what they can to earn that title once again.
Gordon has 5 wins at this track along with 4 poles. This is one of the few tracks that you may see some serious aggression out of Gordon. He throws his car in the corners and never lets off the throttle. Gordon aint scared. Thats for sure.
On the other hand, we have Tony Stewart. This could be a really great weekend or another disappointing one for Tony depending on how he handles himself. If he can manage to keep his temper in check, he could easily be the one seeing victory lane. The problem that Stewart typically has is that he gets too aggressive and destroys his car because some other inexperienced driver was in his way. Well, its that or some other excuse about someone else messing up. Either way, Stewart NEEDS a win and WANTS a win badly, so look for him to be ultra-aggressive but also conservative when he needs to be this weekend.
Juan Pablo Montoya is actually the defending champ of this race, which really is no surprise seeing as he won his first NASCAR race on the road course in Mexico during his Nationwide career. His background lends him to being a great road course racer. He comes from the IRL league where hes used to this type of driving, so hes another one to watch.
All in all, Im going to have to say that this is finally Tony Stewarts weekend. Not that Im a huge Stewart fan (Im really am not), but I think that Stewart is an awesome driver with some great road course talent that is going to shine through this weekend. No one has more of an itch to end this drought than Stewart. Gordon is a great road course driver, but with the cars that he has been getting, who could expect him to be in victory lane this weekend? Montoya is going to be up there, but again, his inconsistency has been his problem all year. Hes had very few races with decent finishes compared to his rookie year. I think he needs to step it back up a little bit.
Just as a recap, here are your top twelve in points:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jeff Burton
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Carl Edwards
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Greg Biffle
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Kevin Harvick
11. Tony Stewart
12. Clint Bowyer
Now to all those Jr. fans out there, Im sorry, but I dont think hes got a shot. While hes been very consistent this season, I wouldnt advise someone to put money on a driver who publicly admits to being terrible on road courses. Hes won before, but I wouldnt count on it this weekend. As far as Jimmie Johnson, hes been quietly creeping back up in the points. Id expect to see him somewhere in the top 10 this weekend. Hes all around, a great driver regardless of the track. To all the Tony Stewart fans, keep your fingers crossed and cheer him on. He needs this win!