Skip to content

NASCAR’s Sonoma 2013 road course ringers, analyzed

Jun 20, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Napa Auto Parts 200 Getty Images

There’s two road races for NASCAR this weekend, as different as wine and cheese. Literally.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series makes its annual jaunt out west to Napa Valley and wine country, at Sonoma Raceway. The track’s also been known as Sears Point and Infineon Raceway, and when Infineon’s naming rights expired the track settled on Sonoma Raceway … which isn’t bad, but is to those who sought a return to its Sears Point roots.

Meanwhile, the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads up north to Elkhart Lake, Wis.’s Road America, which basically doubles as America’s “National Park of Speed.” It’s a 4-plus mile road course that is as well known for its track food – because who doesn’t love a Johnsonville brat and cheese? – as its racing.

We’ll look through the “ringers” in Sprint Cup’s Toyota/Save Mart 350K first, then hit the Nationwide folks in another post.

  • Justin Marks, No. 7 GoPro Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. It’s his series debut and the team’s road course setup has never been particularly strong in the past. That said, a top-20 finish would be an excellent result for team and driver.
  • Alex Kennedy, No. 19 MediaMaster/Dream Factory Toyota, Humphrey Smith Racing. Like Marks, will be Kennedy’s first start in Sprint Cup. The team – as the rest of the NASCAR community – has a heavy heart this week after Jason Leffler’s passing, as this was the team he drove for a couple weeks ago. For Kennedy, a clean race is the goal and perhaps a top-25 finish if the cards fall right.
  • Boris Said, No. 32 HendrickCars.com Ford, FAS Lane Racing. Said’s one of NASCAR’s oldest and most notable “ringers,” and is best known in recent years for these comments he made about Greg Biffle at Watkins Glen.  On-track, Said has 45 prior Sprint Cup starts and drove to an eighth-place finish with Frank Stoddard, now his team boss, as his crew chief at Sonoma in 2010. Miracles can happen but the best I’d expect for “Said Head nation” – if there is one – is a top-15.
  • Ron Fellows, No. 33 Canadian Tire Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. The popular Canadian missed the road course races a year ago and his last top-10 was a fourth-place at Watkins Glen in 2007. A top-10 for Fellows this week though, is not impossible.
  • Victor Gonzalez Jr., No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. The Puerto Rican will make his Sprint Cup debut in TBR’s second car. Has a handful of road course starts in the Nationwide ranks; like Marks, anything close to the top-20 would be respectable.
  • Jacques Villeneuve, No. 51 TAG Heuer Eyewear Chevrolet, Phoenix Racing. Get your popcorn ready. Villeneuve’s been entirely too aggressive in his Nationwide starts for Penske Racing, and he hasn’t driven a Sprint Cup race since 2010. Finch had “a rebel” in Kurt Busch in this car last year and Busch wheeled it to third – if Villeneuve (pictured above) keeps his head and doesn’t ram too many cars off the track, he could match that. Key word there is “if.”
  • Paulie Harraka, No. 52 HASA Pool Products Ford, Keselowski Racing. Frankly, Harraka has done nothing in NASCAR Camping World Trucks to warrant a step up to this level. He’ll make his debut but anything further than a start-and-park would surprise.
  • Tomy Drissi, No. 87 The Wolverine Movie – Corn, Nemechek Racing. A sports car veteran, Drissi’s driven Porsches, Corvettes and prototypes this year. He won’t set the world on fire but if he keeps it clean, he could make it to the top-25.
Latest Posts
  1. Perez close to new deal with Force India

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain Getty Images

    Sergio Perez closing on in contract extension with Force India.

  2. In just three years, why have Austin and COTA become favorites for F1?

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1-US Grand Prix AP

    The F1 community loves coming to Austin and COTA, but why?

  3. Crew chief trade for Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch begins this weekend

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images) (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

    This weekend’s race at Texas will mark the official debut of Tony Gibson and Daniel Knost as crew chiefs for Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick, respectively. How will they and their drivers fare together?

  4. Successful COTA Forum in Austin proves the importance of fan engagement in F1

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Fan Forum - Austin, TX Getty Images

    Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez appear at the event in Austin ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

  5. Get your calendars ready for conflicts: Here’s the IndyCar/sports car ones in 2015

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Long-Beach-Lead Getty Images

    Get your calendars out and start marking up which series run where, when.

  6. Haas releases time-lapse video of F1 factory being built

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    The team’s planned entry to F1 in 2016 takes another step forwards as the factory is completed.

  7. Kevin Harvick to make 500th Sprint Cup start, seeks first Texas win

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    (Photo courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing) (Photo courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing)

    Kevin Harvick makes his 500th career Sprint Cup start this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

  8. 2015 IndyCar schedule officially revealed; 17 races including 12 on NBCSN (VIDEO)

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe AP

    IndyCar takes the wraps off its 2015 schedule, with 17 races and a heavy jockeying of dates in the second half.

  9. Bianchi remains “critical but stable” but continues to fight, says family

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Japan Getty Images

    The Bianchi family issues a new statement over three weeks on from Jules’ accident in Japan.

  10. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: United States GP

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Russia F1 Gp Auto Racing AP

    The MST writing team makes its picks ahead of the race in Austin, Texas.

  11. Has Formula 1 cracked the U.S. market in Austin?

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Race Getty Images

    The difficulties faced by Formula 1 in the United States seem to be long gone, with a great home in Austin, Texas and a booming fan base. Has the problem child of a market finally been righted?

  12. Behind the scenes: Lewis Hamilton on TODAY (VIDEO)

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Practice Getty Images

    Behind the scenes of Lewis Hamilton’s day at the TODAY Show.

  13. John Force to debut much-anticipated 16X Funny Car this weekend in Las Vegas

    Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    john force 16x car for las vegas 2014

    When it comes to this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, John Force is taking his effort to win his record-extending 17th Funny Car championship to a high power. As in 16X.

  14. NASCAR America video: Jeff Gordon hanging on edge

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    (AP photo/Steve Helber) AP

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kelli Stavast talked with Jeff Gordon about the difficulties of advancing to the final round of the Chase.

  15. NHRA Top Fuel veteran Bob Vandergriff Jr. to step aside at season’s end

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal) AP

    It was just a matter of time for NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Bob Vandergriff Jr., and now that time has come.

  16. Kyle Busch may not walk on water, but he sure can glide on it (video)

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    kyle busch superboat

    With some of the things he says or does on the racetrack, Kyle Busch might seem like he’s all wet at times.

  17. IndyCar: Jack Hawksworth ready to go full-throttle for Foyt

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Jack Hawksworth AP

    Hawksworth: “We’re here to win, to give 120 percent.”

  18. Vettel and Ricciardo bring F1 to the streets of Austin (VIDEO)

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Downtown Austin gets treated to the first big event of the F1 weekend.

  19. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA covers critical Homestead test at 5 p.m. ET

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Coming up today: More on this week’s critical test at Homestead-Miami Speedway; an in-depth look at the Drive for Diversity program; Parker Kligerman shows you what it takes to be tops at Texas in the NBC Sports iRacing Simulator.

  20. Report: Plea deal delayed again for ex-NASCAR driver Tyler Walker in 150-mph, 3-state police chase

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy Utah Highway Patrol) (Photo courtesy Utah Highway Patrol)

    After 10 delays to resolve the most serious charges against him stemming from a three-state police chase that reached speeds as high as 150-mph, will the 11th time finally be the charm for former NASCAR and World of Outlaws racer Tyler Walker?

Video from NASCAR America

Jeff Gordon hanging on edge
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. M. Crafton (1258)
  2. D. Hamlin (1130)
  3. K. Harvick (1098)
  4. J. Logano (1018)
  5. T. Stewart (992)