Jimmie Johnson dominated the Toyota/Save Mart 350, at the end was gifted the race by Marcos Ambrose’s mistake and took home the win for the #48 Hendrick team at Sonoma. Even though Ambrose seemed to have the race in control during the last laps, his shutting off his engine to conserve fuel for the possibility of green white checkers at the final caution cost him the race. He simply couldn’t get it started going up hill and came to a stop dropping him to starting seventh on the re-start.
It was a shock to all who watched but also shows just how much the possibility of green-white-checkers has entered into every decision during late race cautions. To this fan, it was a real shame to have that happen to the guy that would’ve definitely won, especially with the way it appeared the race was going to finish. Unfortunately, He couldn’t blend in until Kasey Kahne in the #9 went by and that put him out of contention for the final laps even though he did finish 6th.
As I stated in the earlier special edition this week, the Sonoma road course on this day was a lot like a short track race and it was inevitable in my opinion that tempers were going to become inflamed by the end. The aggressive driving started early and although it did wane a bit in the middle, at the end there was a whole lotta bumpin’ goin’ on.
In the final quarter of the race one of the most aggressive drivers was (maybe not so surprisingly) Jeff Gordon. His apparent frustration with his finishes this year seemed to surface as he made it onto what I like to call the “return-the-favor” list of several drivers. We don’t know for sure that something will happen at Loudon this coming weekend between all of the possibilities, but unfortunately for Jeff (again in this fan’s opinion), he is going to have to be looking over his shoulder for a while, (that is unless he can sooth some of the feathers he’s ruffled at Sonoma.)
I know it sounds funny talking about Jeff Gordon being so aggressive as to look like he was a little out of control, but the facts speak for themselves – he was. He admitted after the race he wasn’t proud of some of the things he did during the race and although he was going to try and sooth things over, he didn’t expect Martin Truex Jr to be very receptive. He went on to say he expected (and deserved) some payback from him somewhere along the way in the near future. He will also be looking out for a little payback from more than Truex. From this fan’s observations of the end of the race, Elliot Sadler, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Bush are going to be looking for an opportunity to upset one or more of his days in the near future, too.
Jeff Gordon wasn’t the only one making waves on the track. Some names that come to mind quickly would be AJ Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya (even though I know there were others.) Allmendinger caused the first mix-up early in the race, involving himself, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Bush. He and Jamie managed to finish 13th and 15th respectively but Kyle finished 34 laps down in 39th position. Montoya was aggressive on the day also and took Joey Logano out of a possible top 15 finish and put him back in 33rd. He was as aggressive as anyone at the end and finished a somewhat disappointing 10th (at least for him on a road course).
One of the drivers that stands out in my mind over the last several weeks would be Denny Hamlin. He has won an impressive five races this year and has done hardly anything but whine since Martinsville. He’s whined about his teammate (and endured a little in return), complained about NASCAR and how they throw cautions for debris and other things to tighten the race at the end. I just don’t know, it makes this fan wonder if he is whining while things are looking pretty good for him, what will it be like if his luck changes and things go against him a little bit? Oh, I know he’ll suck it up and move on, but I can’t help but think we’ll have endure even more whining along the way. I will say one thing, though… he needs to work harder on his road course program.
Oh well, with all of the adrenaline that was flowing at the end of the race at Sonoma, I just can’t wait to get to racing on the flat track at Loudon. I guess we’ll find out just how much was just talk when we get there…
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 23, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com
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