Sunny coolish breezy weather greeted the 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers for the early morning Saturday practice session at Infineon Raceway. The skies were clear and the session went well. This was not a session for judged for overall speed, as the teams tried various fuel loads and race setups, to fine tune the cars for Sunday’s Toyota/SavMart 350 race in Sonoma CA.
The fastest overall was JAMIE McMURRAY/No.1 McDonald’s Chevrolet, with a speed of 92.295 mph/time of 77.621, He was followed by KURT BUSCH/No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, CLINT BOWYER/No.33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, the younger Busch brother known as Rowdy or Shrub – KYLE BUSCH/No.18 M&M’s Pretzels Toyota, and A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.43 Best Buy Ford.
The local San Francisco CBS TV affiliate, KPIX, has been ’embedded’ with Allmendinger’s crew and in the pits, for a Sunday night sports feature with KIM COYLE and DENNIS O’DONNELL. Allmendinger is the closest local driver in the race, hailing from Los Gatos, south of SF.
All 43 Cup racers were on track, running anywhere between two and 21 laps.
The road racer specialists continue to occupy lower rungs of the charts. ANDY PILGRIM/No.46 Red Line Oil Chevrolet has moved up ten positions since his first practice. Being the well-rounded, adaptable, quick learning road racer that he is, keep an eye on him.
One of the Hendrick Motorsport R&D team has been working with BORIS SAID/No.51 Security Benefit/Thank a Teacher Chevrolet, who is one of the one-race specialists this weekend. The benefit showed in the 45-minute session. Friday’s practice had Said down in P35, while Saturday he’d moved up to P15. The Chevy is owned by JAMES FINCH and built by Hendrick. Said started a semi-career in NASCAR back in 1998 and got the pole in his first Nationwide Series race. This weekend marks his 43rd Cup start. His busy, eclectic schedule includes coaching more than 30 Cup drivers, as well as racing selected NASCAR races, in Cup, NNS, Camping World Truck Series, and the West Series, which is now called the K&N Pro Series. For the most part, Said will race anything anytime, given the chance. Currently, Said is running full time in a Grand-Am Series Rolex Series GT Corvette, which means he’s missing this weekend’s race at Road America. Subbing for Said is JOHN HEINRICY, driving with Said’s teammate, ERIC CURRAN.
Kyle Busch was awarded the First Quarter Driver of the Year Award by journalist LEWIS FRANCK, on behalf of the Driver of the Year organization. This is the 45th year for this award, which selects an overall best driver in an American Series each quarter, with a final overall award for the entire year. The panel includes 21 highly-respected journalists and broadcasters. I’ve heard the names, which aren’t revealed, and it indeed is blue chip media. The DOY Award is the oldest continuous media award.
The Cup Series has one final 75-minute practice Saturday and then is done for the day, leaving the teams to busy up with the final race preparations.