On The Gas, On The Brakes At Sonoma

Who found themselves mashing the gas or brake pedal at Sonoma?  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Who found themselves mashing the gas or brake pedal at Sonoma? (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

When the drivers of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to the West Coast, specifically to “Wine Country” in Northern California and Sonoma Raceway, fans and drivers have an expectation for fierce competition and some good old fashion beatin’ and bangin’. Fans would not leave disappointed.

On The Gas…

5) Chris Buescher – It hasn’t been the season that Buescher and the No. 37 team wanted to date. Still, with a solid qualifying effort, good strategy and some well timed cautions, Buescher got a little TV time, leading the field under green. He would ultimately finish 19th.

4) Chase Elliott – When the backup car is rolled out, expectations become questionable for the rest of the weekend. Elliott and the 24 team certainly had the “know how” to make it happen and rolled home with a solid eighth place finish.

3) Denny Hamlin – Maybe the ship is beginning to right itself for the 11 team. After finishing first and second at the road courses a year ago, Hamlin ran towards the front of the field, avoided being part of any chaos and shaking the bad luck, at least for a week. A fourth place finish heading to the second half of the season is a good sign.

2) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Consistency is a good thing, unless you are Dale Earnahrdt Jr. and sitting well outside the top 16. He needs wins. Still, with a solid run and overcoming problems on track, that win may just be a few short days away.

1) Kevin Harvick – Snapping a 21 race winless streak and finally adding the second Stewart-Haas Racing effort to the playoffs, Harvick cannot rest easy. He could not have more “close but no cigar” finishes in 2017. This could set off a firestorm of Busch beer victory geysers in victory lane.

Now, it’s off to the flip side. Who was on the brakes? It’s time to see who was glowing a little red and hot under the collar.

On The Brakes…

5) AJ Allmendinger – Frustration has to be setting in for AJ Allmendinger and his No. 47 JTG Daugherty team. Sonoma was once his playground as he was an odds on favorite to end up in Victory Lane. Now, it’s just another also ran after qualifying well, tangled up in someone else’s mess and mechanical failure type weekend.

4) Martin Truex Jr. – After scoring his 11th stage win of the season in Stage 1, Truex led the most laps and was looking to add more playoff points with a potential victory. Then, the dark side of lady luck dropped by the No. 78 team’s pit box, ripping some vital parts out of the car. Unfortunately, it forced the team to the garage for a dead last finishing spot.

3) Billy Johnson  – One of the best road racers in the world took to the wheel of the famed No. 43 in hopes of gaining a solid finish. However, after practice, he hit everything and maybe the lottery (unconfirmed scratch off win). As the regulars have become such talented road racers, it left the rookie with a 22nd place finish.

2) Danica Patrick – If it spins out, Danica Patrick is going to hit it, even from behind, which was the case when Dale Earnhardt Jr spun through turn 11 and wiped the No. 10 out. Qualifying sixth, it looked like she was in for a solid day. Ultimately, it just doesn’t seem to be in the books for Patrick to have success or luck for that matter.

1) Kasey Kahne – It seems to be a reoccurring story for Kahne – ill handling car, no speed, bad finish. Next, he has those spells with few and far between races where he has speed, a solid run, and bad luck. In fact, he tested that bad luck and the strength of his car on the final lap with the hard crash into the concrete turn one wall. All things considered, the good news is that Kahne was able to walk away from a vicious crash.

Now, it’s time for restrictor plate racing where you need more luck than anything. This could be a long weekend in Daytona for drivers like Kahne, Patrick, Allmendinger, and others that couldn’t find lady luck with two hands and a psychic reading.

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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