It is Time for Jeff Gordon to Reclaim Sonoma as his Track

Last week at Michigan International Speedway, Jeff Gordon‘s teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke his four year winless streak.  Jeff Gordon had his second best finish of the season of sixth, moving him up to 20th in the standings.  If Jeff is to have any chance of getting into the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup he has to have two wins.  Now is the time to start.  NASCAR fan’s we aren’t in Kansas anymore, or Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter; this week NASCAR is way out in California at the Road Course in Sonoma for The Toyota/Save Mart 350.

The road course at Sonoma is a 1.99 mile course that has 12 turns.  It is one of the two road courses that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits.  Racing is always about the speed and handling of the race car.  Racing on a road course is all that plus braking and pit strategy. In road course racing passes are made by being able to drive into a corner deeper than your opponent then out braking them to complete the pass.  The pit strategy is usually running the race backwards and planning the last pit stop when it is know that there is just enough fuel to make it to the end. The race is 350 Kilometers or 110 laps.

When talking about the next race or any race for that matter it always comes down to who is good here.  The statistics do not lie and those statistics are Race Wins and Driver Ratings.  The drivers who do well at Sonoma according to the Driver Ratings are Marcos Ambrose 108.8, Tony Stewart 107.9, Kurt Busch 106.1, and Juan Pablo Montoya 104.0.  The ratings for those drivers are very strong and would seem to indicate that our winner will come from that group.  Anything can happen at a road course.  One only needs to look back to last year, where Tony Stewart was strong but was wrecked by Brian Vickers very near the end of the race.  He had a great driver rating for the race but a very poor finish.  Kurt Busch won this race last year but he started the race with a Driver Rating of only 100.0.  Jeff Gordon’s Driver Rating for Sonoma is 99.1.  See top 12 Driver Ratings below.

Looking at who has won here can help paint a picture of what can happen at Sonoma.  Mark Martin, Robby Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson all have won one race here.  Tony Stewart has won two races here.  Jeff Gordon owned this track by winning the race here in 1998, 1999 and 2000.  He also won again in 2004 and 2006.  Of all the drivers mentioned above Jeff Gordon has by far the best average finish of 8.7 beating the next nearest driver, Juan Pablo Montoya who has an average finish of 9.0.

There are also some road course ringers, drivers who do great on road courses like Boris Said, that will be entered into this race.  These drivers would replace regular cup drivers who struggle on road courses.  It is expected these “Ringers” may do well but that they won’t win the race.  There is more than enough real good Cup drivers noted above that will see to that.

Time is running out for Jeff Gordon, Sonoma is one of the tracks he does well at.  Like his teammate last week NASCAR needs to see Jeff Gordon get back to Victory Lane.  This might be the week.

If you can’t get to the track in Sonoma CA, you can watch it on TNT this Sunday, June 24th at 3 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.   On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

Track workers remove NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) from the wall in turn 11 during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway Photo Credit Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

 

Top 12 Driver Rating at Sonoma

Marcos Ambrose………………….. 108.8
Tony Stewart……………………….. 107.9
Kurt Busch………………………….. 106.1
Juan Pablo Montoya…………….. 104.0
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 99.1
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 94.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 93.5
Kyle Busch…………………………… 92.1
Jamie McMurray…………………….. 86.6
Carl Edwards………………………… 85.8
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 85.1
Elliott Sadler…………………………. 84.9

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (seven total) at Sonoma.


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