The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is getting ready to turn left and right for its first road course race of the season. While the Cup Series drivers are looking for the win, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose might have an advantage heading into Sonoma.
As two of the most experienced road course drivers within the Cup Series, Montoya and Ambrose are usually two of the favorites at both Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Both drivers have seen most of their success within the Cup Series at the road courses and heading into Sonoma this race weekend, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them among the leaders.
With 15 races into the 2013 season, both drivers are still looking for their first win of the season and still looking to win a pole award as well. Sonoma could be that one opportunity of capturing that first win of the year.
Throughout their Cup Series careers both drivers have found success at Sonoma. In 2012, Ambrose won his first pole award for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and in one occasion came close to his first win at the track. Montoya has seen his share of success at Sonoma with a win in the 2007 season.
In his past five starts at Sonoma Ambrose has captured four top 10 and two top five finishes. Throughout his five starts there has only been one race where he did not finish the race. At Sonoma Ambrose has an average start of five and a 12.8 average finish.
In six starts at Sonoma Montoya has gone on to win once as his only top five finish and four top 10 finishes. He has an average start of 18.833 and a 13.167 finish.
During the race weekend at Sonoma both drivers are looking to turn their season around and possibly break into the top 20 in points as Montoya sits in 22nd and Ambrose in 23rd. A win could help them reach the top 20 and compete for a wild card spot in the chase. Out of both drivers only Montoya has had two close calls at capturing a win in 2013, at Richmond and at Dover.
If Sonoma is one of their best opportunities at a win both drivers showed that they are the two to watch. During the Cup Series first practice session on Friday both drivers led the leader boards in various occasions, but by the end of the session both drivers held the top two fastest times on the track, with Ambrose in the top spot. By the end of both practice sessions both drivers ended in the top 10 in the two sessions.
After leading the speed charts in first practice, both drivers will qualify in the same group of drivers in NASCAR’s new road course qualifying session. Both Montoya and Ambrose will go out in the fastest and final group of drivers who will go on the track and qualify, which will be interesting to see following Friday’s practice sessions.