Jimmie Johnson is coming, and Jeff Gordon has to be feeling the pressure. After notching his second win in the last three races and his third of the season, Johnson has risen to second place and just 15 points behind Gordon in the Sprint Cup standings.
Johnson has found his groove, and the intimidation factor is beginning to resurface for the defending and six-time points champion.
Heading into the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, Johnson is poised to take complete control.
Joe Breeze of ESPN.com said: "Without question, no team should be feared more than the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have been operating at an elite level. And they do have one win at the 1.99-mile Cali road course (2010)."
As one of the few non-oval tracks in the Sprint Cup series, the dynamics of the turns make it one of the most intriguing stops of the season.
Here's how you can watch the action.
Where: Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California
When: Sunday, June 22 at 3 p.m. ET
Live Steam: TNTDrama.com
Radio: Performance Racing Network
Drivers to Watch
Gordon and Johnson
Hendrick Motorsports has to feel good about its team heading into Sunday's race.
Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Sonoma in the #NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with six: Jeff Gordon (five) and Jimmie Johnson (one).— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 20, 2014
The team has won five straight races. Gordon and Johnson are the guys with the best chance of keeping the streak alive.
The fact that these two are also No. 1 and 2 in the Sprint Cup standings shows just how dominant the team is currently. The tweet above shows how good they have been on this track.
Neither Gordon nor Johnson was especially impressive in qualifying. Gordon will start 15th and Johnson 22nd. Despite less than ideal grid positions, both drivers have proved they don't need to start first to win.
In Gordon's only win, he started 13th. Johnson has won from the pole once this year, but he's also won after beginning fourth and seventh. Gordon grew up near the Sonoma track, but the veteran still recognizes the challenge.
Per Nascar.com, Gordon said:
I grew up in Vallejo -- which is a few miles from the track in Sonoma -- but I was always racing on ovals or dirt tracks as a kid. It was much later before I turned my first lap at Sonoma while in a driving school preparing for my first Cup start there. I immediately saw the challenges and the fun of racing at Sonoma and on road courses. We've worked hard as a team to be competitive on road courses and we've had a lot of success at Sonoma. But it's not an easy track to conquer.
Will Johnson or Gordon rep Hendrick Motorsports the best? We'll find out on Sunday.
You hate to call the pole-sitter a sleeper, but that's exactly what McMurray is.
He captured the pole by 0.203 seconds over AJ Allmendinger. The 38-year-old is 20th in the standings and has yet to grab a win this season.
Though he's never actually won at Sonoma, this was the third time he has won the pole position. At some point, one might rationalize that McMurray will breakthrough and win.
The actual race is so unpredictable, it's hard to peg a winner. That said, McMurray's experience in the sport and on the track could be the deciding factor.