Six NASCAR drivers complete Infineon test
Six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers completed a one-day test session on Tuesday at Infineon Raceway in advance of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 20-22.
For one of the drivers, it was a return to familiar surroundings, albeit in a different type of racecar. Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) posted a career-best finish of fifth in three IndyCar Series starts in the Sonoma Valley. Getting behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car may be a different story.
“I’ve driven around this track before, but I’ve never seen this track configuration, so it’s different,” said Hornish, who tested in a Penske Racing Nationwide Series car. “Any track that I really liked in IndyCar, I don’t seem to like in the stock car, so I’m trying to treat this like I’m coming out here for the first time. We’ll see if that helps.”
Other drivers at the test included: Travis Kvapil (No. 28, Yates Racing Ford); Marcos Ambrose (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford); J.J. Yeley (No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota); David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford); and David Gilliland (No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford).
Yeley, Ragan, Ambrose and Kvapil tested in GT America stock cars supplied by Pioneer Motorsports out of Lake Oroville (outside Sacramento), while Gilliland piloted a NASCAR Camping World Series West car.
For Ambrose, it was the first time he stepped foot on the Sonoma Valley facility. He is a regular in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
“This is one of North America’s finest road races, so I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Ambrose. “If you make one small mistake around here, it’s 4,000 miles all the way home. There’s a lot of pressure and responsibility, but it comes with the territory.”
Unlike Ambrose, Gilliland has had plenty of success at Infineon Raceway, winning the NASCAR Southwest Series event in 2004, and the Camping World Series West race in 2007. Gilliland’s NASCAR Cup debut also came in Sonoma in 2006.
“People used to think, ‘This is Sonoma, a road race. I’m not good at road races.’ But now, with the points so close, you can’t give up on one race,” said Gilliland. “You can’t have a bad race anymore and expect to be up front. It’s too competitive now, so people are starting to take it more seriously.”
Several NASCAR Camping World Series West teams and drivers were also at the test session, including Bennett Lane Winery driver Mike David, Fairfield’s Jim Inglebright and drivers from Bill McAnally Racing out of Sacramento. They will compete in the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts, on Saturday, June 21, of race weekend.