Navigating Infineon Raceway isn't easy. From the elevation changes to sweeping turns, staying on the track and out of the grass can be an adventure. Needless to say, passing is even more difficult at the road course. It requires perfect breaking and timing, and there are really on a handful of spots where a quality pass is even possible. Not surprisingly, track position is crucial at Infineon, and drivers that qualify up front have had a huge advantage when it comes to reaching Victory Lane.
In fact, 21 of the 23 races at the track have been won by drivers starting inside the top 15, and 12 of the races have been won by drivers that qualified third or better. With those numbers in mind, fantasy owners have to love seeing Marcos Ambrose on the pole and Jeff Gordon joining him on the front row. Ambrose has finished sixth or better in three straight starts at Infineon and is one of the top road racers in the series. Meanwhile, Gordon leads all drivers with an 8.7 average finish and five victories at the track, and he has won more road races than any driver in NASCAR history.
Former Infineon winners Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya all qualified 12th or better, and fantasy owners looking for some sleeper options this weekend should definitely consider Kurt and Montoya. With his background in Formula One, Montoya is no stranger to road racing. He actually won at Infineon in his track debut and has gone on finish in the top 10 in four of his five starts. Meanwhile, Kurt is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and even though he has struggled on and off the track since moving to Phoenix Racing this season, a road course could level the playing field. Infineon is more about a driver hitting their marks and braking than horsepower and downforce so any equipment disadvantage Kurt is dealing with by driving for a single-car team
should be masked.
One driver that didn't qualify well that has a chance to come to the front is Tony Stewart. He is a two-time winner at the track and has seven road course wins in his Cup career. Stewart has finished outside the top 15 only twice in 13 starts at Infineon and has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts. History says his 24th-place effort in qualifying will make a victory next to impossible, but "Smoke" can still deliver a strong finish for fantasy owners.
About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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