Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 16 - On the Road Again...

As the long summer stretch to the Chase gets into high gear, race #16 provides a diversion – a trip to the pastoral setting of California’s Sonoma wine country where debates over one’s preference for Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon are hotter than ones of “Bow Ties” and “Blue Ovals,” with its track like no other on the Sprint Cup series, the 1.99 Sonoma Raceway, a road course, one of only two on the 2012 calendar. All will be put to test with tomorrow’ Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Road racing is, truthfully put, a diversion. Some fans are die-hard road racing fans wanting to see more events including a race in the chase while others would just assume see the series devoted exclusively to a variety of ovals. Regardless of fan preference, the skill set is different from regular series events giving some drivers the reputation of “road race specialists” while some of the lesser teams employ road race “ringers” to attempt to gain higher positions than their regular pilots could accomplish. Still, who are some of the current most successful road race drivers?  Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, and Jimmy Johnson; however, two drivers including tomorrow’s pole sitter, the Tasmanian Devil himself, Marcos Ambrose and former Indy Car driver, Juan Pablo Montoya having only won on road courses are in the “specialist” category at least until they win on ovals, a feat looking closer all the time for the #9 car.

Despite the inclusion of some “ringers,” tomorrow’s starting lineup shows mostly well-established veterans at the top of the lineup. Jeff Gordon, a driver desperately in need of some good momentum lines up second on the front row beside Ambrose with teammate, Jimmie Johnson, lurking right behind with points leader, Greg Biffle, to his side. Dale Earnhardt Jr., yet to prove himself on road courses wanting to build momentum after last week’s big win, starts a mediocre 19th while the master of almost anything with wheels whose season has cooled off after a hot start defending his championship, Tony Stewart starts a lowly 23rd.

Complete lineup:
19Marcos AmbroseFordStanley95.262
224Jeff GordonChevroletDrive to End Hunger95.067
348Jimmie JohnsonChevroletLowe's94.795
416Greg BiffleFord3M / US Stationary94.722
556Martin Truex Jr.ToyotaNAPA Auto Parts94.686
615Clint BowyerToyota5-hour Energy94.679
718Kyle BuschToyotaM&M's94.632
851Kurt BuschChevroletPhoenix Construction Services94.557
917Matt KensethFordFord EcoBoost94.524
1039Ryan NewmanChevroletQuicken Loans/Childrens Tumor Foundation94.509
1199Carl EdwardsFordAflac94.503
1242Juan MontoyaChevroletTarget94.319
132Brad KeselowskiDodgeMiller Lite94.269
1420Joey LoganoToyotaThe Home Depot94.209
155Kasey KahneChevroletFarmers Insurance94.206
1611Denny HamlinToyotaFedEx Ground94.199
1722AJ AllmendingerDodgeShell / Pennzoil94.184
1847Bobby LabonteToyotaClorox94.103
1988Dale Earnhardt Jr.ChevroletDiet Mountain Dew/National Guard/7-Eleven94.026
2013Casey MearsFordGEICO93.991
2155Brian VickersToyotaRKMotors Charlotte.com93.949
2295Scott SpeedFordLeavine Family Racing93.913
2327Paul MenardChevroletMenards / Moen93.840
2414Tony StewartChevroletOffice Depot / Mobil 193.824
251Jamie McMurrayChevroletMcDonald's93.732
2629Kevin HarvickChevroletRheem93.728
2738David GillilandFord1-800LoanMart93.524
2832Boris SaidFordHendrickCars.com93.268
2934David RaganFordGreen 1 High Performance Green93.166
3043Aric AlmirolaFordMedallion Financial93.153
3178Regan SmithChevroletFurniture Row / Farm American93.064
3236Dave BlaneyChevroletTommy Baldwin Racing92.964
3398David MayhewFordPhil Parsons Racing92.833
347Robby GordonDodgeMAPEI / SaveMart Supermarkets92.563
3531Jeff BurtonChevroletWheaties92.459
3687Joe NemechekToyotaAM/FM Energy Wood/Pellet Stoves92.140
3719Chris CookToyotaHumphrey Smith Racing92.076
3849J.J. YeleyToyotaAmerica Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents91.927
3993Travis KvapilToyotaBurger King / Dr Pepper91.836
4026Josh Wise*FordMDS Transport91.729
4110Tomy Drissi+ChevroletIce Age Continental Drift90.579
4283Landon Cassill+ToyotaBurger King / Dr Pepper89.341
4333Stephen Leicht*ChevroletLittle Joes Autos.com91.686
4430Brian SimoToyotaInception Motorsports91.078

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