Driving In Circles On A Road Course

When I first saw a NASCAR race on a road course on television, my initial thought about the unusual combination remains the same about 13 years later.


That’s a pretty dumb idea.


On the same weekend that Formula One rolls into Magny-Cours for one last race in France, NASCAR invades Northern California. The biggest problem in a road course race for huge cars that usually race on ovals becomes quite obvious – nobody can pass. Qualifying on Friday night becomes more exciting for the simple fact that, while it’s improbable to run a lap down 10 minutes into the race, the ability to pass more than 20 cars seems about as likely as me going out with Jessica Alba.


And it’s not like I haven’t tried.


Juan Pablo Montoya enters the race at Infineon this Sunday as the defending champion who flat out got lucky last year. Starting in the 32nd position, Montoya blended his outstanding road course skills with a high stakes gamble to avoid a late pit stop and coast to his only trip to victory lane. You should expect Montoya to act as a huge threat to win again this season, mostly because of the lack of good drivers in NASCAR’s premier circuit on road courses.


Tony Stewart enters one of his favorite weekends teetering on the edge of missing the chase for the Sprint Cup. Even though the driver of the number 20 car has won two Sprint Cup championships, it’s fairly astonishing to look at Stewart’s performance this season. Languishing outside of the top 30 in two of his last three races, Stewart’s car currently can’t compete with the rest of his team. Wrecking in the final three laps in Charlotte with the lead certainly didn’t help “Smoke’s” confidence level or auto parts budget. He needs a win this week to solidify his status as an elite driver.


Even though the logic of stock cars running on a road course continues to baffle me, I’ll be like all the other diehard NASCAR fans and watch the race.


Yeah, even if it’s on TNT.



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