Checking the Sonoma record book you will find the future hall of famer listed often.
Most NASCAR wins: 5
Most NASCAR top-fives: 13
Most NASCAR top-tens: 17
Most NASCAR poles: 5
Most NASCAR laps complete: 2,123
Most NASCAR laps led: 484
Best Average NASCAR finish: 8.2
Other current drivers with a wine country win include Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Tony Stewart. Stewart has two wins, and has finished in the top ten in 9 out of 15 races at the track. Bowyer has finished in the top ten in 5 out of 8 Sonoma races, and Johnson can claim 7 top tens in 12 tries at the track once known as Sears Point.
On the opposite end of the stat page is Dale Earnhardt Jr. I am sure that members of Junior Nation would not mind at all if NASCAR never again ventured to Northern California. Earnhardt has 0 wins, 0 top-fives, and 0 top-tens in 14 races at Sonoma. Ouch.
With Hendrick Racing dominating NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in the past month, it would be no surprise if one of Earnhardt’s teammates finished first in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday. Kasey Kahne had a top five finish at Michigan last week, and desperately needs a win. Gordon has been strong almost every week, and Johnson seems capable of winning every race the rest of the season.
Michael Waltrip Racing’s Clint Boywer won the 2012 race at Sonoma and needs a win almost as badly as Kahne. Bowyer could be a player on Sunday, as could the Busch brothers. Marcos Ambrose is a good road course driver, and last year A.J. Allmendinger won on two Nationwide Series road courses. So, who do I predict will win? W-e-l-l, let me tell you a story. I have been picking winners on my other blog www.therestofthedirt.com since I started it six years ago. I have found that I am a jinx to whichever driver I choose. So I started picking a Roush Fenway Racing driver most weeks since I am not a big fan of the team. I think I’ll leave the predictions to the pre-race pundits, and they don’t do much better than me.
I am hoping for a fun race to watch. Many series drivers now accept the view that racing at Sonoma is like racing on a NASCAR short track oval-in other words, there will be plenty of rubbing race cars. Or as Harry Hogge said in ‘Days of Thunder,’ “he didn’t slam you, he didn’t bump you, he didn’t nudge you, he rubbed you. And rubbin’ son is racing.”
According to Motor Racing Network, four Sprint Cup drivers are going to run the K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma on Saturday: #42-Kyle Larson, #3-Austin Dillon, #7-Michael Annett and #17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The four are seeking additional road course experience before Sunday's Sprint Cup race there. Perhaps Earnhardt Jr. should look into this option.
Finally, a thought that involves other tracks as well as Sonoma-I am not a big fan of some of the speedways that make up the Chase, NASCAR’s self-proclaimed play-offs. I would like to see Richmond and Chicagoland swap dates, with the Illinois track being the final non-Chase race and Richmond being race #1 for the Chase. I really dislike Dover International Speedway, and that is stating it mildly. I wish the Delaware track’s second date would go to Iowa Speedway and run it in the summer. Move the Sonoma race from June to October, right before the Phoenix race. I would like a road race, almost typed road rage, to be part of the Chase, and the weather in wine country in late October is perfect-at least it was when I attended a conference in Napa some years ago.
In five minutes I just improved the Chase more than changing to 16 drivers did this season. Do you think NASCAR will ever use my ideas? Nah, I don’t either.
Thanks for stopping by.