Marcos Ambrose
Marcos Ambrose. Photo by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin-Images

MARCOS AMBROSE/No.9 Stanley Ford was the final fastest driver Friday noon in the first of only two practice sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race at Sonoma Raceway. His time was 94.049 mph/1:16.173, ahead of runner-up JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 Target Chevrolet by 0.129 seconds. Ambrose holds the qualifying track record for this particular NASCAR track configuration – 95.262 mph/1:15.203 seconds, set last year. He was the only driver who hit the 94 mph mark.

For much of the session, the same three drivers occupied the top of the charts, taking turns being first – Ambrose, KURT BUSCH/No.78 Furniture Row Chevrolet and last year’s unexpected winner, CLINT BOWYER/No.15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Then near the end of the one hour-45 minute session, drivers got serious and mixed it up. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA/No.42 Target Chevrolet snuck in for a few laps before being out-paced by Ambrose.

The final top five were: Ambrose, JPM, CASEY MEARS/No.GEICO Ford, Busch, and JAMIE McMURRAY/No.1 CESSNA Chevrolet. Bowyer ended up in eighth place.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Kurt Busch

Clint Bowyer

Left to Right, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer. All photos by Bob Tarvin/Tarvin-Images.

Before practice, it was Dueling Chats with Ambrose and Bowyer. The genial Aussie Ambrose was first, and was asked were road course races becoming rougher? Part of his answer”If you look down the sheet of people who can win there’s at least 20 drivers that could win. Would you have put Clint Bowyer on that list when he went around here? Probably not, so it could be even thicker than that.”

Bowyer had a later chat, and had this riposte – “I read (Marcos) Ambrose’s quote — that was kind of mean. Who would have thought he’d have shut his car off leading and not win the race with a dominant day. So, bam — make sure you post that quote right back at you Ambrose.”

However, Bowyer got serious and this to say about Ambrose: ” He is amazing.
To watch him, last year I remember, his car was terrible and he had that thing hung out driving absolute daylights out of it and you see that and you’re like, ‘Man, I hope I don’t ever get that thing pointed in the right direction and rolling good because he’s going to be a handful,’ and he usually is and I think he will be this year.”

The top non-regular/road race driver was RON FELLOWS/No.33 Canadian Tire Chevrolet, in twenty-sixth place. The others were JACQUES VILLENEUVE/No.51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet-P30; BORIS SAID/No.32 Ford-P34; ALEX KENNEDY/No.19 MediaMaster Toyota-P37; VICTOR GONZALEZ Jr/No.36 IMCA Dominican Republic Chevrolet-P39; JUSTIN MARKS/No.7 GoPro Chevrolet-P40; PAULIE HARRAKA/No.52 Hasa Pool Ford-P41; and TOMY DRISI/No.87 Toyota-P43.

Harraka, who is running both NASCAR races this weekend, was first in the second K & N practice session, and fifth fastest in the first. He basically was on track most of the day, switching back and forth between his Sprint Cup Ford and his K & N Toyota.

RICKY STENHOUSE, Jr/No.17 Ford EcoBoost Ford was the top Rookie in P17, and Rookie DANICA PATRICK/No.10 Chevrolet in P31.

JASON BOWLES, NASCAR Nationwide Series/K & N Pro Series West driver, is filling in for BRIAN VICKERS in the No.55 RK Motors Toyota, while Vickers runs the NNS race at Road America this weekend. Bowles will practice and qualify the car, and Vickers will drive Sunday. Bowles ran twenty-eighth.

Temperatures ranged in the mid-eighties for the first practice session, and all 43 drivers were on course. Practice went fairly smoothly, with a few offs, but nothing serious.

The times in this first practice session will set the order for Saturday morning’s groups in the ‘European Style’ Qualifying.

The Sprint Cup Series has another 90-minute practice session Friday afternoon.

Last Modified on June 21, 2013
This entry was posted in NASCAR
Bookmark this article ACTIVE AMBROSE