Last year’s ‘unexpected’ race winner, CLINT BOWYER/No.15 5 Hour Energy Toyota, ended up fastest in the second practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Friday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway. His fast time of 94.556 mph/1:15.765 seconds was set on his fourth lap. The top eight drivers were faster than the fast time set in Practice One by MARCOS AMBROSE/No.9 Stanley Ford.

For much of the session, it was Bowyer, Ambrose and KURT BUSCH/No.78 Furniture Row Chevrolet occupying the top spots, with MATT KENSETH/No.20 Home Depot Husky Toyota taking his turn at the top for awhile.

At the end of the frantic final five minutes, the order was Bowyer; JAMIE McMURRAY/No.1 Cessna Chevrolet; KYLE BUSCH/No.18 M&M’s Toyota; CARL EDWARDS/No.99 Aflac Ford; and JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 Target Chevrolet.

Fifth through tenth were GREG BIFFLE/No.16 3M Ford; Kurt Busch; Ambrose-who set his fastest time on his first lap; JOEY LOGANO/No.22 Shell Penzoil Ford; and JEFF GORDON/No.24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. Kenseth ended up thirteenth.

Greg Biffle

Jeff Gordon

Matt Kenseth

Left to Right: Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. Photos by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin-Images.

BORIS SAID/No.32 Ford was the top road racing specialist, finishing twentieth. RON FELLOWS/No.33 Canadian Tire Chevrolet was twenty-seventh. JACQUES VILLENEUVE/No.51 Tag Heuer Chevrolet improved to place twenty-ninth. He said he received the call two weeks ago, and he was excited to be here in a Cup car. TOMY DRISSI/No.87 Toyota didn’t improve from P43.

The temperatures dropped eight to ten degrees in the second practice session – the last before the Cup drivers qualify for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race. There will be no ‘Happy Hour’ practice after qualifying, and the cars will not be impounded.

Jimmy Johnson's car
Jimmy Johnson’s car

JIMMY JOHNSON/No.48 Lowes Chevrolet was had an aha moment slip sliding through Turn Ten. He did a masterful job of looking graceful while keeping the car well off any walls. The current points leader headed straight for his garage where his crew went to work on the car. Johnson ended up in eighteenth place overall, turning his fastest time on Lap 19.

Another driver who had to have some work done was Kyle Busch, whose colorful car swapped paint with a blue and yellow tire stack kerb marker, so he had to pit for right side work.

DANICA PATRICK/No.10 GoDaddy Chevrolet was one of several who spun off and on the track.

Lewis Franck & Mat Kenseth
Lewis Franck & Mat Kenseth

When MATT KENSETH/No.20 Home Depot Toyota met the press for his morning chat, he was surprised to first receive an award before he sat down for Q&A with the media. Noted motorsports journalist, LEWIS FRANCK, presented Kenseth with the first quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2013. Kenseth said “It’s always an honor whenever you’re selected for any kind of award from the media or the fans. I never even thought of receiving this award, so it’s pretty cool to have been selected for this.”

Kenseth was one of fifteen drivers who scored points this quarter in the voting conducted among eighteen selected journalists and broadcasters. At 47 years, the DOY award is the oldest motorsports award in the United States. It is given to an American racer or a driver racing in the United States. MARIO ANDRETTI once called it ‘The Heisman Trophy of Motorsports.’