(Chamber of Commerce moment. Just kidding). If you like hills, vineyards and pastoral settings, you really must make it a point to visit Sonoma. Yours truly lives about six hours up the road, across California’s northern border to Oregon. This place is so gorgeous, this is where God bought his retirement home. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something about this setting that’s perfect for a road course race. Might not hurt to prepare accordingly; we’ve been having some uncharacteristically cool weather for late June in this neck of the woods.
Strategy has a way of coming in to play at the tracks of right and left turns. Remember when Marcos Ambrose got to playing around to save gas and he came to a stop and had to let Jimmie Johnson by? Johnson won that race. I also remember when Jamie McMurray looked promising for a 2007 victory, but Juan Pablo Montoya played his cards right after starting 32nd to get the win.
Speaking of which, I’ve never quite understood why some fans get so crazy about fuel mileage wins. Doesn’t strategy, of which fuel mileage a part, a part of racing. It’s like a marathon runner who saves a little reserve for a big kick at the end. Sure, it would stink to have one of those every week, but that doesn’t happen every week. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Nobody asked me, but I’ve got a feeling about Tony Stewart this week. He’s second all-time on road courses with seven wins, compared to Jeff Gordon’s nine.
Of course, I expect Marcos Ambrose to represent. He starts well and runs well here. He’s due for an Infineon win. Speaking of Richard Petty drivers, remember when Kasey Kahne pulled one out for “The King” in the same ride Ambrose has now?
There’s an interesting concept for a NASCAR game: The Six Degrees of Kasey Kahne. You could have fun with it, considering he once drove for Jeff Gordon’s old crew chief, and now the two are teammates. Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Toyota? Kasey has driven them all. Think about all the teams he’s driven for and all the teammates he’s had. I’ll have to give this one some more thought.
One of Kahne’s old stable mates is Brian Vickers. He’ll pull double duty this weekend, racing for Joe Gibbs at Road America on Saturday, and then coming over to run for Michael Waltrip on Sunday. Speaking of the Clown Prince of NASCAR, do you remember who won this race last year? None other than Waltrip’s own Clint Bowyer. Talk about guys who are due, Ol’ Five Hour Energy is right there, right now.
You want a big time dark horse pick? I’ll be curious to watch David Gilliland. You know he’s got a second place finish at Sonoma. After watching his Front Row teammate take Talladega, offering David Ragan drafting help, it would be a sweet sense of symmetry if Gilliland could grab the checkered flag here.