Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sonoma Driver Ratings: Montoya tops list as driver to beat Sunday

Montoya looks good for a win Sunday
Jamie McMurray will be on the pole for Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, the first of two road course races this season. Marcos Ambrose was fastest in Friday's first practice session and last years winner, Clint Bowyer, was fastest during happy hour, but we still still feel Juan Pablo Montoya is the driver to beat Sunday.

Even before practices, Montoya was high of the short list of candidates to win just because the road course races are basically his entire season. While his Earnhardt/Ganssi team has shown improvements on the season at other tracks, the one constant for Montoya -- regardless of how good of bad the team was running -- has been road courses. His only two wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series have come on the roads, the first coming at Sonoma as a rookie in 2007 and the other coming at Watkins Glen in 2010.

During Friday's practices, Montoya came in with the second fastest lap in the early session and was fifth quickest during happy hour. During the final session, Montoya also had the best 10-consecutive lap average among the seven drivers that ran that many. Many of the drivers didn't feel the need to run that many laps in a row because the 1.99-mile course is so long, but knowing that Montoya is fast on long runs is a nice bit of reassurance for those siding with the former Monaco Grand Prix winner.

Ambrose is going to the driver Montoya will have to pass to make it happen, but we think he will, and at 12-to-1 odds when maybe only 10 drivers have a chance to win, that's good enough for us to endorse. 

Top-10 Driver Ratings......The Linemakers on Sporting News

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