Most “road ringers” that are running the Sprint Cup race at Sonoma since 2005
Photo credit: Eric Webler / TheRacingExperts.com
Boris Said's car on pit road at Watkins Glen in 2012.
By Eric Webler
June 21, 2013
SONOMA, CA- For race 16 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, we reach our first road course of the year. Road courses, like super speedways, are a place to see the smaller teams shine. At super speedways, any car can get into the draft with any driver and go to the front with any team. At road courses, a small team or team with multiple drivers not battling in the points, can hire a “road ringer” or a driver who specializes on road racing to race their car. They help the smaller team to have a better chance at winning or getting a good finish then the driver who isn't the best at road courses. A few familiar faces are racing this week like fan favorite Boris Said who is driving the #32 HendrickCars.com Ford for FAS Lane Racing, Ron Fellows who is driving the #33 Canadian Tire Chevy for Circle Sport, Jacques Villeneuve who is driving the #51 TAG Heuer Eyeware Chevy for Phoenix Racing, and Tomy Drissi who is driving the #87 The Wolverine Movie Toyota for NEMCO Motorsports. Their are also some new faces to the Cup series like Justin Marks who is driving the #7 Go Pro Chevy for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Alex Kennedy who is driving the #19 MediaMaster Toyota for Humphrey Smith Racing, Victor Gonzalez Jr. who is driving the #36 for Tommy Baldwin Racing, and Paulie Harraka who is driving the #52 HASA Pool Products Toyota for Go Green Racing. Alex Kennedy, Victor Gonzalez Jr., and Paulie Harraka all have starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It's been 8 years since the Sprint Cup Series has had this many road ringers. You would have to go all the way back to Sonoma in 2005 since we've seen this many.
One of the drivers that all our eyes will be on is Jacques Villeneuve. Villeneuve has been driving in the road course races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the past 5 years with Braun Racing and Penske Racing. He has had much controversy within these years. Every race, he has had a good car but something has happened to him almost every time weather it was a car malfunction or an incident on track. He has wrecked Marcos Ambrose, taken out Max Papis and Brian Scott after forcing it 3-wide on a restart, spun Elliott Sadler who was points leader at the time when it happened, and who can forget when he punted Danica Patrick out of the way at Road America last year. Drivers will sure be keeping and eye on him this week. If Villeneuve can keep his head in the race, can he be the driver to turn things around for Phoenix Racing? They need a spark because it doesn't look like Phoenix has much more time in the sport because of funding.
Hopefully the road ringers will put on a show for us. It's always nice to see a small team and/or a road ringer have a good run in the cup races. Will any of them get a top 10? Or even a top 15? The cup drivers have gotten very good at road racing making if rough for the road ringers to finish well. Boris Said and the other road ringers had a tough time last year at Sonoma and Watkins Glen with the best finish of 25th by Said at Watkins Glen. We will find out Sunday how they fair out this year.