NASCAR Preview

Last Updated Monday, Jul 3, 2006 1:41 am, EDT

Dodge/Save Mart 350

Status: Final Infineon Raceway

Race Capsule

Sonoma Raceway
  • What:

    Race 18 of 38 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, CA

  • When:

    June 25, 2006 3:40 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    110

  • Track Length:

    1.99 miles

  • Race Length:

    219.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,371,771

Drivers to Watch

Kasey Kahne Captured the checkered flag in a rain-shortened race at Michigan last Sunday, his series-leading fourth victory this season; climbed two spots to to third in the standings; registered his second consecutive seventh-place finish at Pocono and captured the checkered flag at the Coca-Cola 600; rebounded nicely from three consecutive runs outside the top 20; has registered six top-five finishes and 10 top-10s this season; won the Samsung/RadioShack 500 to record his third career victory; also visited Victory Lane at Atlanta after registering consecutive fourth-place finishes at California and Las Vegas; ran 41st in this event last season.
Greg Biffle Registered his sixth straight top-10 finish Sunday in the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway; climbed to 10th in the Nextel Cup standings with 1,807 points through 15 races; defending series runner-up captured his first victory of the season at the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 13; struggled over the first nine races this season, registering just two top-10 finishes; ran 14th in this event last season and has struggled at this track, placing outside the top 10 in all three starts; has not finished higher than 13th in six career starts at road courses.
Matt Kenseth Finished 13th at Michigan to fall 74 points behind Johnson; ran fifth at Pocono one week after capturing the checkered flag at Dover; finished fifth at Charlotte and was runner-up to Kahne at Texas; leads the circuit with nine top-five finishes through 15 races; struggled to a 24th-place finish at Martinsville after crashing on a restart in the 493rd lap; appeared primed for a victory at Bristol before being bumped by Kurt Busch in lap 495 and fading to third; placed 11th in this race last season, his highest finish in six career starts at this track.
Jeff Gordon Placed eighth at Michigan, just his second finish inside the top 10 in his last seven starts; remained 11th in the standings with 1,796 points; bounced back nicely from disappointing performance at Richmond by finishing second at Darlington; has just four top-five finishes and six top-10s through 14 races this season; ran just 33rd from the pole in this event last season but has dominated this race throughout his career, capturing four victories, five poles, eight top-five finishes and nine top-10s.
Tony Stewart Struggled to a 41st-place finish at Michigan on Sunday after crashing in lap 59; fell two spots to sixth in the standings; defending series champion persevered through a right shoulder injury to finish third at Pocono, his seventh top-five finish this season; crashed in both the Nextel and Busch races at Charlotte and suffered from a fractured right scapula; crashed in lap 30 at Coca-Cola 600 and finished 42nd; was runner-up to Johnson at Talladega, his second straight second-place finish; won his first race of the season at Martinsville; had the dominant car at Bristol before fading late for a 12th-place finish; placed fifth at Atlanta to rebound from a disappointing finish at Las Vegas; captured one of his five checkered flags last season at this event; has fared well at this track, registering two victories, three top-five finishes and four top-10s in seven career starts.
Jeff Burton Finished seventh at Michigan on Sunday and remained seventh in the standings with 1,888 points; has finished inside the top 10 in eight of his last nine starts, including a fourth-place finish at Dover on June 4; also ran fourth at Talladega on May 1; ran 30th here last year and has three top-10 finishes in 12 starts at this track; veteran driver has not fared well on road courses, registering two top-five finishes and six top-10s in 24 career starts.
Jimmie Johnson Ran sixth at Michigan to register his series-leading 12th top-10 finish; rebounded from slow start at Dover to place sixth; ran second at Coca-Cola 600 and won the Nextel All-Star Challenge to continue his early dominance of the circuit; leads the standings with 2,295 points, just 74 ahead of Matt Kenseth; captured the checkered flag at the Aaron's 499 to retake the standings lead from Kenseth; ran seventh at Phoenix and fell to second in the standings for just the second time in nine weeks this season; absolutely dominated the circuit over the first six races, registering two victories among five finishes inside the top six; won the season-opening Daytona 500 and captured the checkered flag two weeks later at Las Vegas; ran 36th in this race last season and has one top-five finish in four career starts at this track.
Kyle Busch Placed 14th at Michigan and experienced pit trouble in 22nd-place finish at Pocono; fell two spots to 12th in the standings with 1,795 points; bounced back nicely from disappointing 38th-place finish at Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte by placing fifth at Dover; ran seventh at Darlington to register his second consecutive top-10 finish; has four top-five finishes and seven top-10s; finished inside the top 12 in five straight races from February 26-April 2; reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year struggled to 40th place in this event last season.
Carl Edwards Was runner-up to Kasey Kahne at Michigan last week and remained 13th in the standings with 1,722 points, just 85 outside of the top 10; rebounded nicely from disappointing 25th-place finish at Pocono; ran 14th at Dover a week after placing third at Charlotte; has rebounded nicely from a slow start this season, registering six top-10 finishes in his last nine starts; finished seventh at Richmond to record his third consecutive top-10 finish; placed 38th in this race last season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finished third at Michigan and climbed two spots to fourth in the standings with 2,020 points; captured the checkered flag at Richmond, his first victory of the season that snapped a string of 27 starts without a victory; has placed inside the top 15 in 12 of 15 races this season; struggled to disappointing 42nd-place finish in this event last season and has never fared well at this track, placing outside the top 10 in all six career starts; has two top-five finishes and three top-10s in 12 career starts at road courses.
Denny Hamlin Finished 12th at Michigan a week after holding on to win the Pocono 500, his first career victory; has run inside the top 10 in five of his last seven races, climbing to ninth in the standings with 1,809 points; rookie driver owns a 29-point lead over Clint Bowyer for first place in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings; was runner-up to Earnhardt at Richmond and won the season-opening Budweiser Shootout, a non-points event; won the Telcel Motorola Mexico 200, a Busch Series road-course race, on March 5 in Mexico City.