We address some important issues in today's Turn 4, starting with the Leffler tragedy. Others questions today: Was Brad K out of line with his comments last weekend? Is Rick Hendrick rushing it with phenom Chase Elliott? Does Hendrick Motorsports have engines concerns now with Dale Jr.'s two failure? Check out our answers.http://tinyurl.com/k4v6y4u
Which of the "road course ringers" could make the most noise this weekend at Sonoma?
None of them. Road-course ringers are vastly overrated. Most of them don't have good equipment, either. But if anyone can show something, it's probably Villeneuve, although I would have like to have seen Dinger in the 51. He finished 9th in this race a year ago.
Hi Terry, on the Brad running his mouth about HMS and JGR, how come when The Busch Brothers speak out they get labeled as "whiners" but when Brad goes yapping he's "outspoken"?
First, I don't know who is placing those labels on it. But it depends on what is said. Brad tends to be controversial in talking about issues in the sport. The Busch brothers have criticized their own team in the past and starting verbal fights with the media.
How do you think that Danica Patrick will do in the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on Sunday?
I would be surprised to see her run 15th or so, based on how well she raced on road courses last season. But the competition is much better in Cup than NW, so she'll have a much tougher time doing it.
Hi Terry - I love it when the road courses come up on the calendar. A nice change from the rest of the schedule to mix it up. Do you think we'll see more in the near future? I'd love to see 3-4 on the schedule sprinkled throughout the year...break up the monotony.
I agree Bob, but no, I don't see that happening. What I do hope happens is move the Sonoma race into the Chase.
Since Shrub finished in 4th place in both NW and Cup, did he dial back his NW engine to see what it would be like to try and make up spots in the Cup race? Thanks.
JGR thought it was the right move to make the car faster in the long sweeping turns at Michigan rather than the straights for the NW race. But they learned it was the wrong thing to do.
Now that appears the #88 will remain winless and be out of contention for the wild card do you think Junebug is in danger of dropping out of the top 10 and missing the Chase?
He isn't out of competition for the wildcard and he won't miss the Chase.
Did kUrt run his car too hard too early and spin out on his own since he needs to win a race? He sure does have a long losing streak going.
The track was really slick early in the race and it surprised Kurt, along with Labonte. Just happens sometimes.
With her astounding, historic 13th place finish, and now only being 107 point out of 20th, what are Danicas prospects for making the chase? Pit strategy put her out front in the road course races last year, surely her crew can do that this year so she can sweep the road course races. Also her historic 8th place at the 500 proves she's a threat to take the Firecracker 400 in July
Nice to see Danica run well at Michigan, but she's not going to make the Chase and she's not going to sweep the road races.
Your top 5 drivers and a darkhorse for Sonoma?
Ambrose, JPM, JJ, Bowyer and Stewart. Darkhorse is Logano.
Could we now put to bed the "struggling Ford camp" song and dance after MIS? It was overblown to begin with.
They weren't struggling, but Ford wasn't up to par with what Hendrick and JGR were doing. I'm not sure Ford is now, but it was a big step in the right direction, and as I wrote yesterday, it brought a little more parity back to the season
Who is the better road course racer- Ambrose, JPM, or Dinger?
Marcos, hand down. Quite possibly the best road-course racer I've ever seen in a stock car. That's what he grew up doing in Australia.
just only a couple of years ago, you could wrote down Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart as clear-cut favorites to win the road courses, who would you say is a top contender on the road courses with Marcos Ambrose being a given?
Good point Mitch. Certainly JPM is in the mix. Clint has become an excellent road racer and KyBu is one of the best at it, as is his brother.
Do you think Newman, Gordon and Hamlin all miss the Chase?
At Pocono, I wrote a column saying I thought Hamlin could get it done. He still could, but the odds are against it. I'd say Gordon is 50/50 at best and I'll say no on Newman.
I would think Gordon would be a better darkhorse than Logano.
Didn't think I could call Jeff a darkhorse considering how many road races he has won in his career. But this race could help him a lot in his quest to make the Chase.
When Edwards said it is Biffle's job to help #99 does that mean Carl is designated #1 team leader status contractually?
No, but Carl was wrong on this one. Biff was trying to win the race, He wasn't in position to slow down.
TB, will our race ever be in The Chase?
I hope so Tony. It should be because the playoff should have one road race to be a true indication on the champ's overall skills.
Do you think the tragedy with Jason Leffler will give Cup drivers like Smoke and Kahne pause when they consider whether they want to compete in these sprint car races?
No, but it should.
I know you will say Ambrose, but I really think that Kurt Busch is going to win this weekend.... do you think he's road-course skills are underrated - and would you care to make a side wager of who finishes better between Kurt & Ambrose?
No betting for me, but Kurt is an excellent road racer. He could win it if his pit crew doesn't make a mistake.
Do you think there is a connection with Gen 6 high speeds and blown engines?
I do, and I said so today in Turn 4. The engines are producing higher RPM for longer periods. The cars were reaching speeds in excess of 215 at Michigan. It's a lot of stress on the motors.
Hey TB, Austin Dillon sounded like he was very angry at the way the Cup guys (logano in particular) race the NW guys. What would Logano or Kyle do if Austin came to cup and wreck them out in the title hunt as a non points getter in their series?
My dark horse for this weekend is Jamie McMurray. He has done well on road courses. How does he compare with Logano?
Sonoma is a great track to say, pay old debts, heal wounds. Do you expect as much?
It's always possible, but I don't see a lot of debts that need repaying. And for the contenders, it's always a huge risk that you might wreck yourself in the process.
Hell-o Terry, Do you think Gordon may "overdrive" this weekend and kill his chase hopes? Starting up front is premium @ Sonoma. A pole could be hard to come by with the 9, 42, 14 and others to contend with. Your thoughts? Thanks, Bill
I expect Jeff to have a strong run. One new thing that will be fun to watch Saturday is group qualifying, similar to F1 style. Five of six cars will go out at the same time. So much better than one car at a time.
Do you expect Kurt Busch to be loaded for bear especially since Sonoma owes Kurt one for last year?
No track ever owes anyone anything, but I think Kurt views this race as a realistic chance of winning. It likely will boil down to how his pit crew performs.
Could this be the time for Gordon, Montoya to step up and grab the trophy out west. Not a fan of either but it has been a while for both and they are great road racers...
It's possible, but the depth of talented road racers is deeper than ever before in Cup, much stronger than the years when Jeff was winning most of his road races.
With Danica's excellent Top 13 at Michigan, do you think this shows that Danica has gotten her #10 team on the right track with the Gen 6 car?
No. It's good for their confidence, but even Danica admitted they got some lucky breaks on caution flags and the fact that several of the top drivers were out of the race at the end.
Do you get the duties this week? It wouldn't be "rough duty" at all to mix in a winery tour or two.
I do Keith and it's one of my favorite trips of the year. This time I'm skipping the wine country stuff and staying in downtown San Francisco, one of my favorites cities. I'll likely have dinner on Fisherman's Wharf Saturday night.
Hi Terry! Breaktime, the mop is down! If not for the engine failures that plagues the #20, would be be ahead of the #48? Who is the biggest threat to the #48 for #6? BTW- I want a raise!
I pay too much already considering all the chat breaks you take. I picked Matt to win the title this year and I'm sticking to it.
Will you be wandering the track on Saturday?
I'll be in a out of the garage and the media center. Sounds like it's going to be pretty warm Saturday afternoon.
On the final lap at Sonoma, you got Ambrose and JJ side by side... who would be your pick to win?
Great question. I'd go with Ambrose because he's be willing to take more chance. Not as much to lose, points wise, and desperately needs a win to have a shot at the Chase.
SO nascar has 400million to spend on Daytona and add seats that probably wont be filled but they cant spend money or help out tracks to put safier barriers on every track??
First, much at the Daytona funding is public from company ISC. Second, I agree that the SAFER barrier should be in front of ever concrete wall for tracks that play host to NASCAR events.
The foodies would like a scouting report on the Blount restaurant reviews. Thank you.
Absolutely love the legendary Franciscan on Fisherman's Wharf, great food with a breathtaking view of the bay. I also enjoy just walking through Chinatown and picking a little spot where no one speaks English. The food will be awesome every time.
Since you're headed to the Wharf, why not just make a stop at AT&T and catch a game? Garlic Fries!!!!!!
One of my favorite ballparks Tony. I want to watch one night from a boat and hope to catch a homer. And the garlic fries are great, except for your breath afterward.
Hey Terry - with all the disagreement that seems to be happening this year between drivers/teams....I was curious as to who are the MOST like drivers in the garage? Any ideas who they all seem to get along with? Thanks!
Honestly, most the drivers are great guys. Drivers want often say they particularly like another drivers because they want to beat him. But Jeff Gordon has tremendous respect in the garage. So does Jeff Burton and Mark Martin, to name a few.
NON nascar but I noticed your golf tweets over the weekend..Don't you wish they would go to older golf courses again? I thought the US open was fantastic
I loved how the old girl Merion showed those guys a thing or two. I'm against making courses longer and longer. Just make them more difficult and emphasize precise shot-making. That's what happened a Merion.
Hey Terry. Longtime fan of Bobby Labonte here. Is this the beginning of the end for him in Sprint Cup? He's one of the classiest guys you could ever meet.
A good guy, but his ship has sailed. Actually, it sailed quite a while ago.
Terry, Can a spun-out car drive away from most spots? Seems Sonoma was going in that direction. I hate to see drivers laps down when there no real damage to the race car. Thanks, Bill
Depends on where it happens. In the dirt, you probably will stay on the lead. If you get into the so-called kitty litter gravel, you're in big trouble. And if a driver flat-spots a tire on a spin, it might be hard to get back around to pits road before it tears up part of the car.
Road courses are typically not great for Matt Kenseth. Where do you expect him to be (position-wise) at the end of the race?
Probably a top 15, but I think he will find the JGR cars a little more to his liking for a road course.
Yeah, after leaving JGR he hasn't had much of a chance to win. Hope he stays associated with NASCAR in some capacity. He's a good spokesman for the sport. Enjoy Sonoma!
Thanks Rich. The entire Labonte family always will be important to NASCAR.
Are you going to try to catch a SF Giants Game this weekend?
Would love to, but I have other plans this trip.
When Gordon retires do you think he will take over Phoneix or maybe part of SHR and become a HMS statelite team owner like Stewart?
No, I don't think that's what Jeff wants to do with his life after he stops driving. He probably has a future in TV. He has a lot of other interest outside of racing.
Why has Kenseth been so good this year?
Better team and he's happier. He feels like he has something to prove and he really wants that second championship.
Hi Terry, What do you expect out of the Formula One World Champion Jacques Villenueve in Mr. Finch's Phoenix racing #51? Top 5 maybe like Kurt Busch scored last year?
I'll be surprised if that happens. I'm not big on the road-course ringers thing. Too many Cup guys now are skilled road racers.
Which do you think will be the better race this weekend? The Nationwide series at Road America or the Cup series in Sonoma?
That's an excellent question. I think both will be a lot of fun to watch, but I'd probably say Road America based on how great that race was last year.
When will Boris ever get an above average piece to either show he can or cannot run with the BIG boy's...HMMMMMM
I love Boris. A really great guy who I worked with on several NASCAR Now telecasts over the years. But it's probably too late now for that to happen for him.
Gotta run folks. Packing to do and off to San Fran. One thing I would like the end on today. This will be the first Sonoma race in many years without John Cardinale, one of the best PR men in the business and a man who did so much for that race track. He passed away earlier this year after a long battle with stomach cancer. The track will honor him this weekend. He will be missed. Have a great week everybody. Peace.