Fine as wine: Drivers who could have a Sonoma breakthrough
By Tom Jensen
A handful of drivers who could have Sonoma breakthrough
The Sonoma Raceway road course in picturesque Northern California wine country has produced seven different winners in the past seven Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. And for all seven winners, it was their respective first road-course victory.
Juan Pablo Montoya was the first in 2007, and he was followed by Kyle Busch in 2008, Kasey Kahne in 2009 and Jimmie Johnson in 2010. Kurt Busch won at Sonoma in 2011, then Clint Bowyer in '12 and finally Martin Truex Jr. last year.
All of which begs an obvious question: Will there be an eighth consecutive different winner on Sunday, and if so, who will it be?
There are several compelling choices:
Photo: Todd Warshaw / NASCAR
The Team Penske Fords have been fast everywhere they've run this year, and Sonoma should be no exception. Logano has finished no worse than 11th in his last three starts here and has led laps twice in the past three Sonoma races. Photo: Jonathan Moore / NASCAR
Although he's won twice at Watkins Glen, Ambrose has not been able to seal the deal here, famously throwing away the 2010 race after shutting off his engine while leading under yellow. Still, he's finished eighth or better at Sonoma in each of the last five races. Photo: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images North America
A native of Northern California, the 'Dinger grew up road racing in open-wheel cars. Allmendinger has finished no worse than 13th in the last four races here and he's having a strong season so far. Photo: Patrick Smith / Getty Images North America
He just bought his first house and announced that he'll be a dad come December. Now it's time for Larson to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. And Sonoma would be the perfect place for this rising star to make it happen. Photo: Jason Miller / Getty Images North America
This is Gilliland's home track, a place where he has tons of experience racing. He finished second here behind Kyle Busch in 2008. Yes, he's a longshot, but you just never know what a truly motivated driver can accomplish. Photo: Jeff Curry / Getty Images North America