Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SONOMA NOTES & QUOTES: Toyota Save/Mart 350

"It was definitely a surprise last year and we felt really strong the whole race. Hopefully we can unload similar this year. It will be a little different with the new engine and see how it runs. I have always liked Sonoma, even when I didn’t run well there. I have always enjoyed racing there and trying to learn that type of racing. Hopefully we can put another top 10 together. There is a lot that goes on there that you don’t have control over. There is a lot that goes on that you do have control of as well. Hopefully we can get some luck and put together a good race."

MONTOYA RETURNS TO SONOMA: This weekend Juan Pablo Montoya returns to the sight of his historic first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. In 2007 Montoya drove to a 4.097-second victory over Kevin Harvick in the NSCS road-course race in Infineon. It was Montoya’s first Cup victory in just his 17th start. In the two seasons after the victory at Infineon Montoya has finished sixth each year after starting 21st and 17th respectively. Montoya has completed all 335 laps raced at the 1.99-mile road course.

MONTOYA CHASSIS INFO: No. 42 Target Chevrolet Chassis #1014. The Target team will bring Chassis #1014 to Infineon Raceway this weekend. This chassis is brand new and has been tested at Virginia International Raceway.

JAMIE McMURRAY AT SONOMA: McMurray has seven career NSCS starts at the road course in the wine valley of Northern California. He has two starts on the front row, a pole position in 2007 and the outside front row in 2006. His best finish came in 2004 when he finished 2nd. He has zero DNF’s and has completed all but one lap raced (774 of 775; 99.9%) at Infineon Raceway.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS INFO: No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet Chassis #1012. Crew Chief Kevin "Bono" Manion has elected to bring Chassis number #1012 to Infineon Raceway this weekend. This chassis has yet to be raced, but has been tested at Virginia International Raceway.

"Infineon is one of our best race tracks performance-wise, we’ve run really well there. Last year I got a road course win in the Nationwide Series at Montreal, and a road course win on the Cup side is one of my career goals. To me that would be very gratifying considering how terrible I was when I started road racing. We finished third at Watkins Glen in our last road course race and hopefully we can have a good run in Sonoma. I love racing there, and I love the area. It’s a driver’s race track and I like it a lot."

EDWARDS CHASSIS INFO: The Aflac team will be bringing chassis RK-656 this weekend to Sonoma. It raced at Watkins Glen last year where Edwards finished third. The Aflac Ford will also feature characters from the new movie "Toy Story 3" on the hood.

"I like road course racing. It breaks up the season a little. We have had a top-five finishes at Infineon and I think it’s reasonable to shoot for a top-10 finish this weekend. There are a few drivers in this series who have a lot of road course experience and if I can just hold my own with them and get out of there with a top-10 or top-five finish, I think that would be a reasonable expectation."

"It would mean a lot. Man, every year, since the start of the No. 48 team, we've tested more for road courses than any other specific race track. I continue to run the Grand Am series when I can to help. I feel like last year, we were close. We tend to qualify well, but fade in the race some and last year was kind of the reverse of that. We qualified decent and had some troubles early in the race but rebounded and came through and ended up fourth. I have a lot of confidence but at the same time, after eight years of trying, I'm hopeful we have overturned a stone that we have missed in the past. I don't think we have forgotten any area or missed something, but we'll go out and give it a shot and see what we can do and I am ready mentally, physically and we did some testing. I think we found a couple of small things that will bring speed to the cars."

JOHNSON CHASSIS INFO: Primary chassis No. 543 was last piloted from the pole to a 12th-place finish at Watkins Glen International last August. Johnson drove backup chassis No. 442 to a seventh-place finish at Watkins Glen in August 2008.

"Leaving (laughs). I mean, it’s just another racetrack. There are tracks on the circuit that aren’t necessarily your favorite, but you have to go to them anyway and not make it a big deal. That’s how this deal is for me."

REUTIMANN ON WHAT MAKES SONOMA CHALLENGING: "Infineon is very, very technical and it’s easy to overdrive. Forward bite is a problem there and struggling with wheel spin. It gets pretty hot out there and the track gets slick. I think the main thing is conserving your tires to keep good grip. We try to work on our shifts so we can save some tires. That’s a lot of the different things that we learned while we were out there. It was a good experience to spend some time out there. We learned a lot."

"The team has done a lot of testing so hopefully we'll see the results on the track. We had a good run last year but got wrecked there at the end. I'd like to get a top-10 at Sonoma, and we've been close. Road racing is out of my element but I enjoy it."

EARNHARDT JR. CHASSIS CHOICE: This weekend, crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-514. The car was tested last month at Kershaw, and Earnhardt raced it twice last year -- at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT SONOMA: In Sprint Cup competition at Infineon Raceway, team owner Rick Hendrick holds track records in the following categories: victories (five), top-five finishes (23), top-10s (33), pole positions (nine) and laps led (517). Jeff Gordon owns all five of Hendrick Motorsports wins there.

"I really enjoy going to the Sonoma, I like that we race on all different types of tracks. To me Sonoma is almost like a short track, there’s a lot of beating and banging and the speeds never get really high. Having forward drive is key because there are some really tight, slow turns and it’s important to get off them well. I ran pretty well last year in the Home Depot Toyota, but had a run in late in the race. If you can stay on the course for the entire race you are going to get a good finish. We tested at VIR a few weeks ago in preparation for this week. We tried some things and learned some things. I also go over my notes and get on the simulator to refresh my memory a little. It usually only takes a few laps to get it back, but anything I can do to help be quick off the truck I will do."

LOGANO CHASSIS INFO: The No. 20 Team is taking chassis #234 to Sonoma this weekend for the 110-lap event. Logano drove this chassis in both road-course races in 2009 finishing 19th at Infineon and 16th at Watkins Glen. The back-up chassis is #180 which has never competed but served as the back-up car last year.

ROBERTS NASCAR NOTES on Radio - Saturday (3 Hours After Happy Hour)
Be sure to listen to my Post Practice report and preview for each race on Prime Sports Network following the final practice sessions three hours after happy hour. Listen live or at your leisure; all shows are archived. Host Greg DePalma and I will review each of the top drivers and steer you in a direction you should be going based on past/recent history along with critical practice information for your NASCAR Fantasy teams or wagers.

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