NASCAR Goes Road Racing

The NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will add right turns to the mix when they go road racing this weekend. The Nationwide Series will run at Road America on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series will run at Infineon Raceway on Sunday.

For the Cup Series, track position and qualifying will be key at Infineon. Five of the 22 races there have been won from the pole position, 14 have been won from the top five and 17 races have been won from within the top 10 starting positions.

Who will be drinking wine in victory lane at Infineon this weekend?

Jeff Gordon is one of the best when it comes to turning left and right on a racetrack. He holds the record for the most wins and poles at Infineon with five. He even holds the track qualifying record at 94.325 mph. Gordon is one of the drivers still trying to work his way into the 2011 Chase, so look for him to have a strong run and a good points weekend at Infineon.

Tony Stewart has an impressive road course record in the Cup Series and he has two wins at Infineon and overall, he has seven road course wins in his Cup Series career.  “Smoke” should be another driver fans should keep their eye on for a strong run this weekend.

Clint Bowyer describes himself as the good ol’ boy, beer-drinking type and says Sonoma as a destination doesn’t do anything for him, but the race apparently does. In five Cup Series starts at Infineon, he has two-top five and three top-10 finishes. He has also completed every lap of every race he has started there. The Kansas native leads all drivers for the record of green-flag passes with 361, and will be looking for his first ever road course win this weekend. He probably would be ok with drinking the wine if it was in Victory Lane.

“We’re usually pretty good at Sonoma, so I’m looking forward to going back and redeeming ourselves,” said Bowyer. “Running well all day is one thing but escaping with a good finish is an entirely different ballgame.”

Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose are both favorites to win at any road course race. Montoya has past success in the Indy Racing League and Formula 1 racing so it’s only natural that he would be a top road racing contender, with both of his Cup Series wins coming on road courses. Ambrose came close to winning last year, but was conserving fuel during a final caution flag and stalled his engine. Jimmie Johnson capitalized on Ambrose’s issue and got the win, while Ambrose went on to a sixth-place finish. Ambrose is coming back to Infineon believing the track owes him, and he is ready to cash in.

For the second year in a row, the Nationwide Series will head to Wisconsin to run at Road America. The Nationwide Series returns to the schedule’s longest road circuit to tackle sharp turns, dramatic elevation changes and fast passing areas. Carl Edwards, who won the Nationwide race at Michigan last weekend, is the defending champion.

So far this season only two Nationwide Series regulars have won Nationwide Series races - points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier. This weekend with the Cup and Nationwide Series races across the country from each other, it will give the Nationwide regulars a chance to capitalize. Carl Edwards will be the only Cup Series regular in the field.

This weekend’s road course races and right turns are sure to mix up some things in NASCAR’s top two series.

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