KURT BUSCH/No.2 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was the fastest at the last of the Friday practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the only driver to top 93mph – 93.014, at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA.
The weather was 68-70 degrees F and quite breezy during the ninety-minute session.
Not surprisingly, V8Supercar champion road racer, MARCOS AMBROSE/No.9 Stanley Ford led for the first hour of the ninety-minutes, the only driver at the time to turn more than 92 mph during that time. However, as the session wound down, it became a fast-moving revolving door for the top spots, as the cars – in qualifying trim – jockeyed for position. The driver order changed every lap – fast and furious.
The final top five were Busch, DENNY HAMLIN/No.11 FedEx Freight Toyota, KASEY KAHNE/No.4 Red BullToyota, KEVIN HARVICK/No.29 RheemTankless.com Chevrolet, and MARTIN TRUEX, Jr/No.55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
Ambrose finished tenth, behind local driver A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.43 Best Buy Ford, JAMIE McMURRAY/No.1 McDonald’s Chevrolet, TONY STEWART/No.14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and DAVID GILLILAND/No.34 Taco Bell Ford.
Last year Ambrose was set to take his first Cup victory when he stalled going uphill into Turn Two, and by the time he restarted and caught up, JIMMIE JOHNSON/No.48 Lowes Chevrolet won the race, and Ambrose came in sixth.
More and updated information on some of the drivers.
ANDY PILGRIM/No.46 Red Line Oil Chevrolet got the call out of the blue to race the car. This is his Sprint Cup debut, and last time he drove in NASCAR, it was four years ago in a Nationwide car, which is nowhere similar to the current stock cars. Pilgrim only turned a few laps in the session, as the car’s rear end blew out.
CHRIS COOK/No.37 RISE of the PLANET of the APES Ford got the call Friday morning to drive the car owned by LARRY GUNSELMAN. He regularly attends Cup (road) races, helmet in hand, hoping for a ride. It worked for him today.
It was obvious that the change from TOMY DRISSI to Cook was last minute. The crew was told before practice and removed Drissi’s name from the car. It was unfortunate for Drissi, who hails from Hollywood. He owns an advertising firm which produces film displays for upcoming theaters movies, including the remake of the Apes movie.
Cook had a bit of bad luck in practice. The track bar mount truck arm broke, the car was brought to the garage on the flat bed, and the crew beavered away to make qualifying.
BRIAN SIMO/No.81 ARMA Energy Ford had a bit longer lead time for his ride, and if he does well in Sonoma, he hopes to also race the road race at Watkins Glen International.
DAVID MAYHEW, who is qualifying No.66 HP Racing LLC Toyota for MICHAEL McDOWELL, is also running this weekend in the K&N Pro Series West. He qualified seventh in the field of 41.
Unfortunately for the other road course specialists, they were at the other end of the charts.
Two Cup drivers are also running the K&N race – BORIS SAID/No.51 Security Benefit/Thank a Teacher Today Chevrolet and JOEY LOGANO/No.20 The Home Depot Toyota.
Earlier in the morning, Ambrose was part of an announcement from his sponsors, Stanley Tools and Ace Hardware, who were donating $100,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network. If Ambrose wins the race, Stanley will donate another $1 million. Three children who are part of the CMN will be honorary pit crew members for Ambrose.