The top five drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this week; Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth all describe the twisting 1.99-mile track at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California they prepare to be on in just a few days.
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 commences this Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on TNT.
This fast series includes comments by three of NASCAR’s most popular drivers—Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
FYI WIRZ is the swift presentation of pertinent motor-sports topics compiled and condensed by Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)
“Infineon is such a unique animal,” Harvick said. “You need to qualify as well as you can, and it typically comes down to strategy. Your car has to be fast. But, last year was the first time in a long time where fresh tires actually meant more than track position. Track position was still important, but tires overcame a lot of track position because of the large fall off on tires. I think that's good, because it takes a lot of that fuel mileage stuff out the window. It's a challenging race track, and it's a ton of fun, even though it can be very tough to pass.
"I grew up racing go karts on a road course. From the time I was five years old until I was 16, I was racing on road courses. When I got to stock cars, the biggest thing I had to get used to was shifting. But, road course racing was all I ever did, so it comes natural to me. Racing on ovals was kind of the second stage of my career."
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
“The road courses are fun,” Busch said. “I enjoy it. It’s pretty cool to go out there and race the road courses. You get to turn right, turn left and everything so it’s fun. Sonoma is more technical just because there’s more turns and it’s a little bit slower. You have to concentrate on getting off the corner a little bit and have good forward bite.
"Watkins Glen is more like a speedway road course, it’s real fast and you have to maneuver the corners at a high rate of speed. Sonoma is going to be fun, going out there and seeing what these cars have this year. The spoiler is probably not going to be much different with the speed we carry there, it’s not that fast. It will be a fun race though, I always look forward to going up there and challenging the road course.”
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota)
"A lot of it is going to have to be in NASCAR’s hands as to how quick they’re going to throw a yellow for the multiple green-white- checkered,” Hamlin said. “There’s going to be cars turned around every restart, it doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of the race or through the middle. Hopefully we’re not in them. We were towards the front last year, we finished fifth at Sonoma and led some laps. It’s a fuel mileage race for the most part and a lot different than what we’re used to.”
Kurt Busch (No. 2 Dodge)
“Right now, the way that the game has changed, everybody is really competitive on road courses,” Busch said. “You have to be on your game. You have to show up and make sure that you don’t lose a lot of points. It just seems like the fuel mileage is such a big, big issue when you get to the road courses. You race the races from backwards to front on when you have to pit for the final time. You stretch your fuel for as long as you can go and that’s what we have to work on this time around.”
Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford)
“The key to being successful at road courses like Sonoma is track position,” Kenseth said. “We need to have a good qualifying effort on Friday, and we’ve actually been okay with our qualifying efforts at the road courses in the past. For a long time I really dreaded the road course races, but I’ve learned that the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with racing at tracks like Sonoma. I think with the experience I’ve gotten over the years, I have a much better feel for that type of racing so I’m looking forward to building on our road course experience this week.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
"The team has done a lot of testing so hopefully we'll see the results on the track,” Earnhardt said. “We had a good run last year but got wrecked there at the end. I'd like to get a top-10 at Sonoma, and we've been close. Road racing is out of my element but I enjoy it."
Jeff Gordon (No.24 Chevrolet)
"With the success we've had here, this is an event we always look forward to," Gordon said. “It's always a fun weekend because I have so many family and friends in the area.
"The track is one where you have to be aggressive, yet be smooth. And you really have to 'get after' some of the corners while not over-driving them."
Kasey Kahne (No.9 Ford)
“It is an extremely tough place to race because it is such a different concept to what we normally do," Kahne said. “I would say I definitely have confidence based on how we have been there the last few times out.
“The hardest part at Sonoma is tough to pinpoint. I think that every part of it is hard. There is a lot going on there and we don’t race that type of stuff too often. You have to really be on your game and you need the whole team to be right there behind you and working with you the whole time. There is a lot that goes on there at that race track. For an oval guy like myself, I think the whole course is where I need to really keep my eyes open. One little mistake there and you will lose a lot.”