As discussed on another article (Johnson’s Rebound Has Hendrick Chasing Record), nine different drivers have won the last nine races at Sonoma.
Maybe even more noteworthy: For the last seven of those winners, it was the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road-course win of their careers.
Of course, that begs the following question: Who can make it 10-for-10 … and better yet, 8-for-8. It’s a surprisingly long list. Glad you asked …
Marcos Ambrose: When NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France announced the new championship format, one of the first thoughts that crossed many fans’ minds had to be: “This is Ambrose’s best chance to make the Chase.” Ambrose is a road-course whiz, a ringer who also is a series regular, with two prime opportunities to parlay that into a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. The first comes this weekend in Sonoma, where he has finished in the top 10 in five consecutive races. He does have two road course victories, both at Watkins Glen.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: A Sonoma win for Earnhardt is an unlikely scenario, despite the “career yea” he is having. In 14 Sonoma starts, Earnhardt has yet to finish in the top 10 – let alone win. His best finish is was 11th, which he’s done three times. Still, he enters this weekend on the heels of three consecutive top-10 finishes, including his second win of the season, at Pocono. Earnhardt has yet to win a road-course race of any kind in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Matt Kenseth: Like Earnhardt, Kenseth is a superb talent with a surprisingly rocky record in road course races. In 14 starts at Sonoma, he has only one top-10 finish. He, too, is a career “0-fer” at road courses.
AJ Allmendinger: When Allmendinger showed up to a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 2013, he won. In two starts, both at road courses, Allmendinger took the Team Penske No. 22 Ford to Victory Lane, leading a combined 102 of the 149 laps run at Road America and Mid-Ohio last year. At Sonoma, Allmendinger has two top 10s and has finished 13th or better in each of the last four races.