by Micah Roberts
Marcos Ambrose paced the first practice session with the fastest lap on Friday as the drivers prepare to qualify for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.
Six time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon laid down the second quickest lap, followed by road racing ace Boris Said, and then a couple surprises is the fourth and fifth position. Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers, not known for the road racing prowess came on strong late in the 90 minute session to get into the top five times for the day.
Most of the drivers began the session with a race set up and then with about 30 minutes remaining, almost all of them put on a qualifying set up. The difference between the two set ups isn’t as profound as it is on ovals, but the times reflected a huge change. For the last 15 minutes of the session, the top 10 speeds were getting rapidly better with Gordon finally getting passed by Ambrose as the practice ended.
Notables who didn’t practice well were Tony Stewart with the 31st fastest speed and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Stewart will be fine as he remains one of the best road course drivers on the circuit. As for Dale Jr., it could be a long day for him Sunday if they don’t improve upon the 40th best lap time because road racing isn’t really his specialty. A combination of bad car and dislike of the road could is a bad mix.
Top 5 Times - First Practice
slowest: #34-Andretti 89.511 and #27-Hubert 90.135
incidents: #88-Earnhardt Jr., #31-Burton and #00-Reutimann spun
See the Jayski.com link in the right column for complete list of practice speeds.