One of my sleepers to win this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Sonoma Raceway was Emporia, Kansas native Clint Bowyer. He’s been running a lot better lately and has the finishes at the 1.9-mile road course in Northern California to show for it. He won here two years ago and backed that up with being quickest in final practice this afternoon.
Bowyer, turned a lap of 95.988 mph in his No. 15 5-Hour Energy Drink Toyota in the second of two practice sessions on Friday to top the speed charts. He was second quickest in the initial session so he is proving to have a rocket this weekend and a solid contender for the pole on Saturday and to take the checkered flag in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
Second overall today was Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard. The Wisconsin native isn’t typically a strong road course racer but is coming off of a very good weekend last week in Michigan. He won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last Saturday then was fourth on Sunday in the Sprint Cup race. Menard, turned a lap of 95.544 mph in his No. 27 Menard’s Chevrolet.
Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five in Final Practice this afternoon. Both Edwards and Earnhardt were in the top 10 in both practice sessions as Edwards was 10th in the first practice while Junior was seventh.
Kurt Busch led the initial practice session with a lap of 95.470 mph. That lap was good enough for third quickest overall. He was 21st in the final session.
The two sexy picks for this weekend A.J. Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose came home 15th and 24th respectively in Final Practice. Ambrose though was sixth in session No. 1 while Allmendinger was 18th. So, those two have a lot of work to do in qualifying tomorrow to become contenders.
The series will hit the track on Saturday to qualifying for the race on Sunday at 1:40 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. He’s covered both NASCAR and IndyCar action since 2010 and has been credentialed to many races around the country. He’s also recognized as an accredited member of the media by both NASCAR and IndyCar. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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