Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Date: Sunday June 26, 2011
Track: Infineon Raceway
Time: 3 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Bet on the Toyota Save Mart 350 at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted bookies: Intertops.
It’s road race time!! That’s not so good news for a lot of the drivers, as road courses tend to be quite the challenge for the majority of the field. That being said, last week’s winner, Denny Hamlin, has never won here at Infineon. He succeeded in winning at Michigan despite Kyle Busch’s domination for the first half of the race.
The race at Infineon Raceway is going to see a whole different group of drivers up front. We are going to see the most aggressive ones up there along with, of course, our road course specialists. Who are those guys you may ask? Well, when we are talking about successful road course drivers, you have to talk about Juan Pablo Montoya being that he came from IRL. He has his first win here back in 2007. Another one to watch is Jeff Gordon. Gordon has a total of 5 wins on this track and is almost always a contender for the win. Road courses are just something that he’s figured out, especially at this particular track. Jimmie Johnson is the defending winner. Although he’s not necessarily who comes to mind first when you think about a road course, his consistency and aggressiveness on the track last year surprised me. He should be able to come away with a pretty strong finish if he can just be smooth and stay out of wrecks. This is a place where Tony Stewart can also shine. Although he’s struggled this year, if he can find that burn inside that he used to have a few years ago, he can certainly muster his way into victory lane with a strong car. Finally, if we are talking about aggressiveness, we can’t not talk about Kyle Busch. He is the epitome of getting it done when it matters. He may just be the one to watch this weekend.
But other factors we have to consider other than the drivers certainly include those tires and fuel mileage. Again, we are more concerned here with fuel mileage. This track is a 1.99 10-turn road course with the uphills and downhills and sharp turns that we would expect. Fuel mileage always, always, always seems to be a battle on the road courses, but especially here at Infineon. Look for someone if not a bunch of people to run out of fuel in the closing laps. That’s just how this race works.
As for winners, we have quite a field to pick from. In this case, I
am going to Montoya. He’s been hungry for a long time and had some strong
cars this year. I think that this is the track where he is going to get
that win. Jeff Gordon should be close behind if he can manage a good car.
Kyle Busch also has a shot but has seemed to fade at the end recently, so
we’ll just have to wait and see if he can can hold on when it counts.
Here’s a recap of your current top 10 in the points after Michigan:
1. Carl Edwards
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kyle Busch
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Kurt Busch
8. Ryan Newman
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Clint Bowyer
Hamlin’s win last weekend bumped him 3 spots into the top 10. Jeff Gordon’s weekend left him a spot behind in 12th. Tony Stewart also fell outside the top 10 and sits in 11th. Those 2 spots are important and are the wild card spots for those guys who can pick up the most wins this season. I think that Gordon and Stewart need to make this a good weekend to solidify their spots inside the top 10 though. No one wants to be on the skirts of getting in the Chase. Look for some crazy driving this weekend as we head to road course territory in Sonoma, California!
Virginia’s Prediction to Win: Take Montoya to win and better yet, take him in all head to head matchups!