The Motorsport.com NASCAR group previews NASCAR’s first highway course race of the 2018 season at Sonoma Raceway.
Sonoma Raceway will host the primary of three highway course races this weekend. Who do you assume has the very best likelihood to punch their playoff ticket that nobody’s speaking about proper now?
Jim: Clearly with a superb automobile behind him, A.J. Allmendinger is somebody who may present up and win at Sonoma and put himself proper into the NASCAR playoff image. However I am holding my eye on Denny Hamlin. He is hasn’t made a lot “noise” but this season, however has some very profitable outings the previous couple of seasons at Sonoma (a fourth and second) and I believe will discover himself within the hunt for the win on Sunday.
Kenny: In all probability Ryan Blaney so far as somebody probably not being talked about. I believe Blaney’s so much higher highway course driver than most folk understand; he and his Crew Penske group have additionally been working and ending nicely of late.
Nick: A.J. Allmendinger and Kurt Busch are my picks if we’re speaking about drivers on the lookout for their first win of the yr. They’re sturdy highway racers and ought to be contenders at Sonoma. Moreover, keep watch over Daniel Suarez. He could possibly be a shock winner on Sunday.
Tim: Whereas the favored alternative is A.J.Allmendinger, and he does have a superb likelihood of successful, I believe we’ll see a unique first-time winner this season. Sure, I do know Kevin Harvick swept the weekend there final yr and Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are additionally favorites, however I really feel this can be a race we may see Denny Hamlin or perhaps even Jimmie Johnson break by way of.
There hasn’t been a back-to-back winner at Sonoma since Jeff Gordon received three straight from 1998-2000. Do you assume Kevin Harvick might be the primary since Gordon to do this this weekend?
Jim: Kevin Harvick has change into fairly a gifted highway racer in his personal proper and it will not shock me within the least to see him go back-to-back with one other victory at Sonoma. Harvick already leads the collection with 5 wins this season and he and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer have mixed to win seven of the 15 races this yr. I might be onerous pressed at this level to provide you with any race wherein Harvick did not have a professional shot to win.
Kenny: Positive. The humorous factor is, Harvick hasn’t certified price a crap in his final three begins at Sonoma, however has completed fourth, sixth and first. Good automobile, gifted driver, he’ll be a contender for sure.
Nick: I consider he, Kurt Busch and Bowyer will all be on the entrance and battling for the win. It may be one other good day for Stewart-Haas Racing and sure, Harvick may very nicely come away with the victory.
Tim: I really feel Harvick has the power, group and expertise to be a risk to win the remainder of this season on any kind of monitor. That is his ‘dream season’ thus far with all of the wins and working sturdy virtually each weekend, sure I keep in mind Charlotte, however it will not be unusual in any respect to see him celebrating his second consecutive win at Sonoma on Sunday afternoon.
Clint Bowyer has two wins already this season and has carried out nicely at Sonoma up to now (together with a win in 2012). Might he change into a 3x winner this Sunday?”
Jim: Bowyer is on a roll proper now. Not like many occasions in rain-shortened races, Bowyer was truly within the hunt for the win a lot of the race, which makes his victory at Michigan a lot much less of a fluke. He has had good success at Sonoma and calls is his “favourite race monitor.” A Harvick vs. Bowyer for the Sonoma victory wouldn’t be out of the query.
Kenny: I consider Bowyer will win extra races this yr. I don’t assume Sonoma will probably be one in every of them. With a playoff spot assured, I consider the No. 14 group will concentrate on prepping for the “postseason” going ahead.
Nick: Clint Bowyer getting his third win of the yr this weekend is an efficient wager. He has the very best common end of all energetic drivers at 10.7 and 7 high fives in 12 begins. He known as Sonoma one in every of his favourite tracks and he actually has the momentum after his win at Michigan.
Tim: I additionally agree that Bowyer will most likely win one other race or two this season, however I don’t assume Sonoma will probably be one the place he winds up in Victory Lane. I believe he must get previous Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and several other others first.
The Okay&N Professional Collection West Collection would be the assist division this weekend in Sonoma. Of the drivers competing in the race, which prospect do you assume has the very best likelihood of advancing to a NASCAR nationwide collection within the close to future?
Jim: Proper now, I must go together with Will Rodgers, who’s contemporary of his second consecutive NASCAR Okay&N Professional Collection East victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park. A member of this yr’s NASCAR Subsequent class, Rogers is working a mixture of Okay&N and ARCA races this season and completed second within the Sonoma West race one yr in the past to Kevin Harvick. He’s again once more with a race with will embrace a handful of the youthful Monster Vitality NASCAR Cup Collection drivers who’re on the lookout for expertise on the highway course.
Kenny: Cole Rouse, the one-time Kyle Busch Motorsports Late Mannequin pilot, or Derek Kraus maybe? They’re among the many youngest of the younger and constant behind the wheel.
Nick: Powerful query. I agree that Will Rodgers and Hailie Deegan are good decisions, however I might additionally throw in Derek Kraus. On this period, it can in the end depend upon not simply capability, however potential backers you are bringing with you.
Tim: Will Rodgers and Hailie Deegan have each caught the attention of Kevin Harvick and on this race final season, Harvick bested Rodgers for the win after an amazing battle. Rodgers is using numerous confidence after only recently successful the Okay&N Professional Collection East highway race in New Jersey and I believe he’ll make it two wins in a row this Saturday.