(WOMR file photo)
This weekend marks the first of the two road course races that are on the NASCAR schedule annually. The setting is on the North edge of the San Francisco Bay, Sonoma Raceway, formerly Infineon Raceway, and even further back in time, Sears Point Raceway. For those who have never been in this part of the country, the race track sits right in the heart of California wine country, the Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Valley. Usually a staple for the campers at the race track is a cold Bud, however, this weekend there may be more California wine in the cooler than cold Bud!
If you look at the Hendrick Motorsports stable, there are two really good road racers, “Six-Pack” and “Mr. Four-Time”, aka Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Each have road race wins to their credit, however, neither have won a road course race in a few years. Likewise, Kasey Kahne has won a race here at Sonoma a couple of years ago, but under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner. If you are a “JUNIOR NATION” fan, as I am, don’t hold your breath for Dale Jr. to win at a road course. It is just not going to be in the cards this weekend!
If I was a a Vegas handicapper, the smart money, might likely, would be with the RPM #9 DeWalt Ford driven by Marcos Ambrose. Remember, it was just a couple of years ago that Ambrose had the race all sewn up, save the one small/huge screw up.
Recall that Ambrose was in fuel conservation mode, and was shutting down the motor and coasting while following the pace car on the last set of caution laps. He had the race in his hip pocket! However, he failed to bring into consideration the uphill elevation change that was going to occur from turn #1 to turn #2. When he tried to re-fire the motor between turns 1 and 2, the fuel pick up in the tank could not pickup the fuel and pressurize the fuel line, resulting in a great deal of difficulty getting the engine to re-start. Thus, he was unable to maintain position behind the pace car and lost the lead while on caution laps!! Not too many drivers have ever lost the lead while behind the pace car during caution! That faux pas was Ambrose’s achilles heal!
Nevertheless, this team, the RPM #9 Ford, has put in the additional emphasis on the road course and tested at some road courses this season. Richard Petty Motorsports realizes that the road courses are their possible ticket into The Chase. Therefore, they has circled both Sonoma and Watkins Glen as prime opportunities to grab that all important win, and a chance to enter The Chase in 2014.
Likewise, the one horse team of JTG/Daugherty’s Kingsford/Clorox #47 Chevy driven by A.J. Allmendinger is equally a threat “to steal” a victory this weekend! “The Dinger”could definitely be a threat Sunday to bring the hardware home! Remember what “The Dinger’s” background is, Champ and IndyCar open wheel road racing!
A dark horse this weekend may be the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, Kurt Busch. Remember what nearly happened two years ago, when he was driving the #51 Chevy for James Finch? That year he almost won the race, save a mechanical issue with the rear end of the car. Now that KuBu is with one of the powerhouse teams, Stewart-Haas Racing, do not overlook his road race abilities!
So race fans, this weekend exchange those cold aluminum cans of Bud for a crystal goblet full of Pinot Noir, Cab, or Petit Shiraz, have a toast to good clean, hard charging racing, and enjoy a little higher class race from the California wine country!
Note to self:
The redneck that I will be working on this weekend will be the higher cultural end of my redneck, but nevertheless:
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!