Turning right on purpose for the first time this year as the Cup teams make the long trip cross country to Infineon Speedway out in Sonoma, CA for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Here are my choices for five guys to consider for your fantasy team this week:
Tony has always been a factor on the road courses and has one of the best finishing averages with a 10.0 over his entire NASCAR career at Infineon in 10 races. Stewart in his career at Infineon ran for only one team, Joe Gibbs Racing, but ran in three different manufacturers—Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Toyota.
With two wins on his Infineon record and zero DNF's (worst finish of 28th), Stewart is the model of consistency and is as close to a safe pick as you can have for this weekend's race. Not to mention his impressive record at road courses in general in the Sprint Cup division.
Stewart has 20 road course races on his resume with six total wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s, and zero DNFs. His career road course average finish is an impressive 7.85 at both Infineon and Watkins Glen
2008 Finish: 10th
Mark has not run a road course event since his last full season in 2006 and in his last start at Infineon for Roush Racing he ended the day in the 13th position. Mark has 41 road course races on his resume and will be the most experienced driver in the field Sunday.
While four out of Mark's five road course wins came in the 90s at Watkins Glen, he was the winner of the 1997 race at Infineon and brought home his only DNF on his record.
Giving Mark's recent performance and momentum combined with the presence of Alan Gustafson on his pit box, I look for him to have a return to form this weekend at Infineon. In the process he will increase his 2009 Chase stock and solidify his contention for the overall championship.
2006 Finish: 13th
Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya may have a short career as far as NASCAR is concerned but in the area of road course racing his resume is stout. In four career NASCAR road course races, Montoya has one win (in his debut at Infineon), three top 10s, and only one DNF after a late race accident in his Watkins Glen debut.
Montoya has an average finish of 3.5 at Infineon. With his recent driving improvement and his current bid for a top 12 position, it would be foolish to not consider Montoya a favorite for this weekend's race.
2008 Finish: Sixth
Busch enjoyed probably the best burnout the NASCAR world has ever seen last year following his win at Infineon when he literally made his car look like a space shuttle with the amount of smoke he was throwing up from his rear tires.
Kyle swept both the road course events of 2008 in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing and hasn't finished outside of the top 10 in a road course event since June of 2006 at Infineon.
Even with his 33rd and 40th in his first two road course races, Kyle has lowered his average road course finish to its current point of 13.75 after five top 10's in a row. Kyle needs to return to form to keep in Chase contention and this is a good week for him to turn the corner on his season.
2008 Finish: Winner
Underdog: Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose hasn't been in NASCAR long, but if he is known for one thing throughout the world it's road course racing. The veteran of the Bathurst 1000, one of the more famous road course events in the world, he will look to continue his climb up the top 20 in points.
He will look to use the road course events to pull himself back into Chase contention. Marcos does have two NASCAR road course events on his resume from last season, and although a transmission issue took him out of the Infineon race early, he rebounded at Watkins Glen to finish third, driving No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing.
If you need a driver to have better confidence in for your C-list, Ambrose may just be that driver.
2008 Finish: 42nd
Michigan was a decent week for my picks with the exception of Allmendinger, who had some issues and was relegated to a 39th place finish.
Cousin Carl benefited from some fuel issues and was able to be the highest finishing blue oval in fourth place and Tony Stewart continued his dream season with a seventh place finish.
Kyle Busch: 13th
Tony Stewart: Seventh
David Ragan: 15th
Carl Edwards: Fourth
AJ Allmendinger: 39th