The Friday weather is warm, sunny, and breezy at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA for the first of the three-days in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR weekend. The skies were blue in the morning, and then a cloud cover started to move in by noon when the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars were on track for their 90-minute session. Earlier in the morning the NASCAR Camping World Series West ran its first practice for 85 minutes.
Thursday afternoon at the track it was downright scorching – 95 degrees F at 5:30 PM, while the West haulers were setting up and the Cup haulers queuing up for their turn to set up. The weekend forecast is for more typical San Francisco Bay Area kind of weather, fog, sun and early marine layers cooling it off in late afternoon and evening.
The West cars qualify at 1:50 PM local time, and Cup qualifies at 3:35 PM.
Several drivers are doing Double Duty – three running in both NASCAR races at Infineon, and two are commuting to Milwaukee for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. The three California guys at Infineon are DAVID GILLILAND of Riverside; TOM HUBERT of Cottonwood and BORIS SAID of Carlsbad. The two earning flier miles are KYLE BUSCH/Toyota and CARL EDWARDS/Ford. Busch had said Thursday at the Infineon NASCAR press luncheon that he and Edwards wouldn’t be flying together to Milwaukee. He joked that they would be wasting a lot of money and time making the separate flights. Busch didn’t think it would be too hard on him running the two races, as he expected to sleep in the air – “I already have my comfortable spot picked.” Busch is going to have JOHNNY SAUTER qualify his NNS car. Depending on how Saturday morning practices go, Busch will either run one or both.
Each of the two NASCAR series at Sonoma have so-called one-off road-racing ringers. In addition to the three Cup drivers crossing over, the West series also has PATRICK LONG/No.09 Ford and HERSCHEL McGRIFF/No.04 Chevrolet. Long is a currently active sports car endurance racer who won the 2009 GT2 class at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, ran the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and is currently leading the American Le Mans Series GT2 class standings. Long has been running the Camping World Series East whenever he can and almost won the Watkins Glen race this year before being edged onto the grass by the ultimate winner. Currently Long is sixteenth in the East standings, running three of the five races – two top five and three top ten finishes.
McGriff is one of NASCAR’s Fifty Greatest People, and is 81 years young. Kyle Busch joked Thursday that he grew up in Las Vegas watching McGriff and McGriff was old then.
Long was fastest of 37 drivers in the West Final Practice Friday morning at 1:18.173/91.643 mph. JOEY LOGANO/No 11 Toyota was fastest in the first practice at 1:18.118/91.707 mph, and second behind Long in the final. McGriff was last in the first practice, and thirty-third in the final.
Gilliland holds the West qualifying track record at Infineon, 77.887/91.979 mph set in 2007. He has won two West races at the wine country road course circuit and ran his first-ever Cup race at Infineon, all explaining his fondness for the track.