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The Final Word – Why Can’t NASCAR on TV Always be Like Sonoma?

It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Interesting race, a few surprises, great topography and scenery, and top notch announcing. What was not to like?

If you were Carl Edwards, not much. He came on strong over the final quarter of the race at Sonoma to march off with his 23rd career victory, and his second of the season. It marked his first win on a road course, and it ended a string of five straight wins by Team Hendrick. Well, barely, considering that Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr were contenders all day to conclude things in the Top Three. Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard put some spark into their seasons with Top Fives. Jimmie Johnson had a Top Ten, for those who do not things to change too much from week to week.

Matt Kenseth got the biggest surprise, when Junior bounced off a curb to clip him into the tire barrier. That tore the front end, radiator included, off his beast to leave him steaming. The driver, Kenseth, not the car. Didn’t I mention the radiator was no longer attached? 42nd was his fate.

Junior also managed to lay a late touch on A.J. Allmendinger, who then spun to get hit by Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers to tear up his front end. A.J. went from a contender to finish 37th, and probably burned his Junior Nation t-shirt afterwards.

Kevin Harvick had a car to beat, and beat it he did when he got squeezed into Clint Bowyer’s spun car. Happy wasn’t, as his hopes faded to leave him 20th on the day. Notice that Earnhardt had nothing to do with that one.

Danica Patrick finished 18th, just ahead of Tony Stewart, ahead of Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson. That should give you some indication as to how lousy the day was for those boys.

Now, I would truly love to be a big Danica supporter, but despite her experience, her quality equipment, her lucrative sponsorship, and a loyal fan base, she just does not matter most weeks. To find her on the charts, you usually start at about 25th and look a few spots either way. Sunday was a good day, for her. Even great open wheelers have had trouble making the transition, and while she was popular, she was not great. Still, at 32, I guess there is still time.

Time to turn our attention to this Saturday night, where Kentucky hosts just its fourth Cup event. Kyle, Keselowski, and Kenseth have won the first trio and I would expect them somewhere near the front again this year. Also, do not be surprised to see a Mr. Gordon or a Mr. Johnson up there close, as they have been the past three years. They have not yet won there, but Saturday has not yet arrived, so that could change.

Change, like Home Depot leaving Joe Gibbs Racing and that same owner possibly about to welcome Edwards to the fold. Yet, not all things change. Check out the top of our leader board.

1 – Jimmie Johnson – 3 WINS (560 Pts)
2 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 2 (555)
3 – Carl Edwards – 2 (509)
4 – Joey Logano – 2 (483)
5 – Kevin Harvick – 2 (472)
6 – Jeff Gordon – 1 (580)
7 – Brad Keselowski – 1 (512)
8 – Kyle Busch – 1 (465)
9 – Denny Hamlin – 1 (453)
10 – Kurt Busch – 1 (347)
11 – Matt Kenseth – 515 POINTS
12 – Ryan Newman – 473
13 – Kyle Larson – 470
14 – Paul Menard – 459
15 – Clint Bowyer – 452
16 – Greg Biffle – 444

17 – Kasey Kahne – 429
18 – Tony Stewart – 427
19 – Austin Dillon – 427
20 – Jamie McMurray – 425
21 – Brian Vickers – 424
22 – Marcos Ambrose – 407
23 – Aric Almirola – 400
24 – A.J. Allmendinger – 391
25 – Casey Mears – 373
26 – Martin Truex, Jr. – 360
27 – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – 320
28 – Danica Patrick – 299
29 – Justin Allgaier – 280
30 – Michael Annett – 249
31 – David Gilliland – 232
32 – Cole Whitt – 228


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. Face it! Same story every week. Occasionally qualifies well (runs less than 6 laps) and fades. I submit that 20 of the drivers in cup now, would take the same car and crew-chief and be running in the top 15 with a few top tens. The experiment is over. Go-daddy will eventually realize that she can’t get it done and go with a good driver or pull out, now that they have milked her notoriety down to nothing.

    • You know, as Jeff Foxworthy and Philip James say, you too could be a Bonehead.

      Mind you, I do appreciate the company.

  2. This writer, some bonehead called Ron Thornton, whines and complains about Danica. Well, in this race, she qualified in 11th and then from then on the car went downhill…. not through any fault of hers, the setup was only good for about 5-6 laps and then it went to crap. She dropped all the way to 31st and 1 lap down. In the last third of the race, thru restarts and pitting for new tires for those 5-6 laps, she made it back to 18th. For me, that was damn good driving…. when you have a crap car, it does not matter how good you are… ask Jimmy Johnson when he got crap cars how well he did. Same with all the top drivers.
    Another example? How about Charlotte where she qualified in top 5 and drove to 2nd in the first few laps… then because the 10 Team could never get the setup right during the race, she dropped down into the 20’s. When she gets a car that is setup right, she can run with most of the top 15… i.e. Kansas… but unfortunately, either due to her not knowing exactly how to tell Tony G how to fix the car or Tony G not being too good at setup, there are lots of times when her car has been garbage.
    So, Ron Thornton, how about writing truthful articles and not biased baloney.

    • Dear Philip:

      I am so sorry Danica has had nothing but bad cars for 60 of her 62 career races. My bad.

      Your Pal,
      Bone H.


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