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Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

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Good ole road course racing. Infineon, or whatever we are calling it now, is a 1.99 mile track that features 10 turns on an asphalt surface. I can never figure out why there are only two of these races on the schedule every year. They always provide drama and exciting racing and this week will be more of the same. While the Watkins Glen is my personal favorite, Sonoma is quite fun itself. NASCAR should really look into adding more road course tracks and maybe a trip to Eldora but at the very least they need to add a road course race to the Chase since that should be a mini season in and of itself. The Chase should have at least one of every type of track they visit throughout the year. It shouldn’t be without a road course race if a win at a road course can get you into the Chase.


Stay Away From

Kyle Busch 12-1

When you think back to how well Kyle Busch has fared at road course events, I’m sure you are like me and think “ya I remember him being pretty good at these things”. However you are thinking about his history of running up front at Watkins Glen. While he has won at Sonoma and has the handles to run well on road courses, he has not had the success at Sonoma that he has at the Glen. In nine career starts here he has posted just two top 10’s to go along with four finishes outside the top 20. Now this week he starts back in the 20th position and will have to battle his way through the field to pay you off and 12-1 just isn’t anywhere near worthwhile.

Best Bets

Jeff Gordon 6-1

Jeff is the king of Sonoma. Sure he hasn’t won here since 2006 but he has more wins at this track than anyone ever and he holds the best average finish of anyone in NASCAR history. There have only been three times in 21 starts at this track where he didn’t post a top 11 finish and I say top 11 because in his rookie Sonoma race he finished 11th, other than those four his worst finish is 9th. He has finished inside the top 5 in 13 of 21 starts and 12 of those were top 3 finishes. I don’t love the value but he is a serious threat to win this thing tomorrow.

Tony Stewart 8-1

Smoke is the only active driver not named Jeff Gordon that has multiple wins at this place. He is also second to just Jeff in total road course wins with seven to Jeff’s nine. His dirt track background has made him very successful at these tracks and this may be just what he needs to get his 2014 season on track.

Best Value Bets

AJ Allmendinger 28-1

Dinger is a good little dark horse here this weekend. At 28-1 you get a guy starting on the front row in a race where track position is arguably the most important thing. You also get a guy who has the 11th best average finish at Sonoma and 6th best average finish at all road courses among active drivers. The value is too much to pass up here.

Carl Edwards 35-1

Speaking of value… While he has never won a road course event, he has a top 5 average finish at all road courses and a top 10 average finish at Sonoma, among active drivers. Not to mention he will be taking the green flag from row 2 when this thing gets started tomorrow.

My Pick

Marcos Ambrose 5-1

There is a few things going for Marcos this week that may help negate the fact that he qualified back in 23rd place. He has a good car in race trim. He was the sixth fastest in first practice. His two road course wins have both come at the Glen, which may seem like a bad thing but in this instance it’s going to be one of those scenarios in which that just motivates him that much more. Toss in the fact that there may be a spot in the Chase waiting for him should he grab a win at one of the two road courses and you have one determined Australian. He knows that he needs to win at least one of the two and if he can get his first win at Sonoma this weekend, then he can lock himself into the Chase with another win at the Glen. He is the favorite for a reason and it’s because he is just flat out better than everyone else at these races. Yes again he has never won at Sonoma but he has the best average finish amongst active drivers on all road courses and his worst finish at Sonoma is 8th two years ago. Marcos is going to want this more than everyone else on the track on Sunday guaranteed.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

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