Five drivers in need of a good run at Sonoma
Photos by Todd Warshaw, Chris Graythen, and Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
Sonoma Raceway has produced nine different winners the last nine seasons. Will that streak be extended to ten?
By Dominic Aragon
June 21, 2014
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
With only a handful of races left in the regular season, time is ticking for opportunities to punch a ticket to NASCAR’s post-season. But for drivers on the outside looking in, this weekend’s race may provide an opportunity to close the gap.
There are a few notables without a victory this season, but the following five drivers may be in need of a victory the most.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose is in a contract year, and a win would go a long way for the 37-year-old.
Marcos Ambrose: ‘We all know what is at stake’
Sonoma Raceway has eluded Ambrose. Scoring five top-ten finishes in-a-row since a DNF in his debut, Ambrose has led 64 laps, and has started on pole (2012), but if the driver and score his first win of the season, he will all but guarantee his team’s berth into this year’s Chase for the Cup.
No. 14 Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart has turned the corner as of late. Smoke has climbed six spots in points over the last few races to be in striking distance of making the Chase on point.
Stewart sits only seven points outside the Chase cutoff, but a win Sunday would eliminate him from having to make the playoffs on points alone.
Stewart has won twice at Sonoma, but not since 2005.
No. 16 Greg Biffle
Jayski.com reported after the month-long carousel of rumors, Biffle is expecting to stay with Roush-Fenway Racing past 2014.
Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Tony Stewart holds the trophy from his 2005 win.
With the distractions out of the way, Biffle can now refocus continuing to hold a Chase spot.
Biffle’s average finish of 14.3 at Sonoma shows the formidability of the No. 16 team. Biffle sits in the final Chase spot heading into this weekend’s race.
Biffle has scored two top-five finishes at the track, and although a win might be a little out of reach, a strong top-ten showing will build momentum for the winless team, and keep his car further inside the Chase.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger
After a fast start to 2014, Allmendinger has plummeted six positions in points in five races to 21st.
Although Allmendinger hasn’t raced at Sonoma in two years, the driver has scored two top-ten finishes in five starts, including his last trip.
Allmendinger was two-for-two on road course starts last season in the Nationwide Series, winning at Road America and Mid-Ohio.
In an interview with Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass, Allmendinger is confident in his chances this weekend.
“I’d be lying to say I didn’t come in here with the mindset that we have a shot to win this thing,” Allmendinger said.
No. 55 Brian Vickers
Like Allmendinger, Vickers has faded after an impressive start to 2014.
Since an eight place effort at the Coca-Cola 600, Vickers’ last three showing have been 43rd, 19th, and 42nd respectively. The driver currently sits 18th in points, 15 points away from the final Chase spot.
But Vickers has been solid on the California road course in his time at Michael Waltrip Racing, scoring a top-five run in 2012.