By admin | June 19, 2009
By Richard Allen
For the first time this year the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is about to turn both left and right on the road course in Sonoma, California. Such a drastic change from the norm could very well bring about something not often seen in NASCAR racing, at least something not seen over the last few weeks.
That something is…passing…on the track.
I did not used to be a big fan of racing heavy stock cars on road courses but I have changed my outlook over the last couple of years. The road courses do not give drivers the opportunity to complain about ‘aero-tight’ conditions and ‘dirty air’. With the constant ‘slowing and going’ along with some ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ there is no time for the air to get dirty. And if a car is tight in one corner, the next is coming right up so maybe things will change by the time the car gets there.
On these tracks the driver is a bigger difference maker than the engineer or the seven-post shaker.
The 2009 version of the Toyota/ Save Mart 350 offers a particular opportunity to see that rarest of all racing moves, the pass, because many of the sport’s top road racers qualified back in the pack. These drivers will certainly be charging toward the front from the drop of the green flag to get ahead of those who may have just happened to have had one good lap in qualifying.
Jeff Gordon(13th), Mark Martin(14th), Juan Pablo Montoya(17th), A.J. Allmendinger(20th), Robby Gordon(22nd), Ron Fellows(29th) and Patrick Carpentier(38th) are among those who will be passing often in the early stages of Sunday’s race.
And the great thing about the passing that will occur is that it will be taking place on the track and not just in the pits, where most of the passing in today’s NASCAR happens.
As I said earlier, I once was not a fan of road racing in NASCAR, but that opinion has changed. It provides something unusual and different. Hopefully, that unusual and different will include passing…on the track.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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