So who are you going to pick to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway for the running of the Toyota/SaveMart 350? One knee-jerk choice may be to select Dale Earnhardt Jr. The driver of the No. 88 car seems like a great choice considering the run he’s had this year. And, if you are a betting type of person; a safe bet might be to consider any driver from Hendrick Motorsports.
You can’t talk about the points chase without mentioning Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and of course Jimmie Johnson.
But wait! Before you select Dale Jr. on your fantasy racing pick list. Sonoma is a road course race and that means a different skill set comes into play other than the NASCAR heavy left turning races. So, your choices of a winner begin to get harder to pick. One thing is for certain, Dale Earnhardt Jr might not be your best choice to win the race according to a recent article by Bob Pockrass. In the article Earnhardt explains that his plan for Sonoma, and road course racing in 2014, may be to simply “wing it!”
You can’t go wrong with a journalist like Pockrass - he asks great questions to get drivers to say exactly what’s on their mind. And, Earnhardt is one of those drivers who always gets his message across in a manner that we as NASCAR fans can understand. Forget the long conversations about road course set up, different styles of driving, road course ringers, and pit stops that other drivers may explain when giving an answer. Earnhardt sums it up perfectly. “Wing it!”
Here’s how the answer, which may be the greatest driver response of the season, came about. It’s a well-known fact that Earnhardt is no big fan of road course racing. Not to say that he hates doing it, it’s just not his favorite. And judging by the numbers… it’s not his best style of racing. Pockrass asked what the plan was to get ready for the No. 88 team.
Keep in mind that Earnhardt already has several wins in 2014 and has been at the top, or near the top, of the points all season long. So, in a drivers mind the safe bet for a race such as Sonoma would be to do no harm. Protect the points, run your best, just don’t stress out and over react. Here’s Earnhardt’s answer when asked about testing for Sonoma.
“We usually test once or twice for road courses, but this year I think we are just going to wing it,” Earnhardt said. “Sonoma, it's embarrassing, man, I haven't finished in the top 10 there ever,” Earnhardt said. “We just decided not to work that hard and just go there without a test and wing it, and we got teammates to test it and we'll see what they did and liked.”
You have to love the honesty from Earnhardt and the great reporting by Bob Pockrass on the topic. After all, Earnhardt has finished outside of the top-ten at the track every year in his professional career. He does have a handful of eleventh place finishes.
Let’s not forget that during some downtime from the NASCAR season in 2004 Earnhardt was seriously injured and burned during a wreck at Sonoma. So, “winging it” suddenly seems like a great plan!