Last Sunday brought smiling faces to many NASCAR fans as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took the #88 to victory lane after a 4 year winless drought. This weekend, the touring series f inds themselves at one of the most unique venues of the season. The drivers and teams will be making their 16th stop of the season at Sonoma for
the Toyota/Savemart 350.

The inaugural Sprint Cup Series race was held at Sonoma in 1989. Since that race, there have been 23 races held at the track. Drivers and teams will have a challenge as they not only tackle tricky left-hand turns,
but they will also have to maneuver through a few right handers.

There will be 44 teams making the cross-country trek from North Carolina to California. That means 1 driver and team will be making a quick return to the Carolina hills. Six teams decided to make a driver change
this weekend and put a “road course ringer” in the driver’s seat. The term “road course ringer” is used to describe a driver with a driving background in 2 road course racing. The ringers entered this weekend are Boris Said, Robby Gordon, Brian Simo, Scott Speed and David Mayhew.

Many teams have selected chassis previously used in road course races. Kasey Kahne will be piloting the #5 car used last season at both road course races. Last weekend’s winner will be bringing chassis #88-601. This
car finished 15th in last August’s race at Sonoma. Tony Stewart is among the drivers bringing a new chassis this weekend.

Pit strategy is always an important factor when coming to a road course. Teams will run the race “backwards” meaning they will strategize pit road from lap 110 to lap 1, rather than lap 1 to 110. As a fan, you must
keep an eye on your favorite driver and keep up with the strategy used in Sunday’s event. A driver with road racing experience who has been on a streak of great runs is Marcos Ambrose. He and his #9 team are my pick for this weekend’s race.

Tune into Sunday’s coverage of the Toyota/Savemart 350 beginning at 1PM on WBKR and Also, be sure to tune in to Race Talk LIVE on WBKR at 7PM on Tuesday for a complete recap of the weekend’s racing event and a preview of next week’s race at Kentucky Speedway.

-Blake Smith