Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Date: Sunday June 20th, 2010 (Happy Father’s Day!)
Track: Infineon Raceway
Time: 3 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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This weekend, we are changing it up a little bit and heading to Sonoma for road course racing! It’s been a long stretch of racing for the drivers, so perhaps Sonoma will be a refreshing change of pace. As we see the drivers turn right for one of the few races this year, we have to be aware of the entries who are known as the road course “ringers”. This are the guys like Boris Said who have enormous experience on these types of tracks. These guys rarely race regularly in the rest of the Sprint Cup season, but they certainly make a name for themselves in these few road courses that the Cup guys come to.
You’ll find that a lot of sites and critics argue that these guys should not be allowed entry into these races because of their experience and lack of participation throughout the rest of the season. What I would like to argue is that if we are going to have that mentality, we really shouldn’t allow the guys from IRL to come into NASCAR at all. They tend to break up the standings, cause wrecks, and everything else that the critics argue of the road course guys. While they do race fulltime, all drivers have a different background.
To me, part of the fun of racing is watching different drivers compete from different backgrounds because they all have different styles. It gets monotonous watching the guys in the front and the same guys in the back wrecking week in and week out. Road courses are a great opportunity for some change and excitement.
The biggest difficulty of this track here at Sonoma is maintaining track position. Starting at the back of the pack is definitely putting yourself in harms way. With the sharp turns and massive braking that we tend to see, clean air is optimal.
At Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, we see a nearly 2 mile road course that consists of 12 turns. Those turns range from regular banking and turning to flat and hairpin-like turns. As I said before, track position is the key here. Being bunched up is a hard place to be. Passing is difficult and blocking is plentiful. Everyone comes away with donuts just like a short track after this race is over.
There are a few guys who are masterful at these types of tracks. My top
3 picks include Juan Montoya, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon. My number
1 pick is Jeff Gordon. He needs a win and this is the track where he
can grab it. Kasey Kahne and the Busch brothers should also have some solid
runs too. Those I expect to struggle include Earnhardt Jr., who’s never
been a road course fan, and the Roush guys. They have been having some
tough luck and road courses are not their best either.
Here’s a recap of your top 12 in points:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kurt Busch
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Jeff Burton
9. Greg Biffle
10. Carl Edwards
11. Tony Stewart
12. Mark Martin
Tony Stewart has made his way back into the top 12 after a solid weekend at Michigan. This weekend will solidify his spot in that coveted top 12. This is a place where he will shine. Stay tuned this weekend as we head to a different type of track with a different type of attitude!