Hot 20-California to make a sharp turn to the right, but only on the race track at Sonoma

It is ironic that the two tracks that feature folks turning to the right are in California and New York, where you would think left would be the preferred direction. Sonoma is the perfect venue to feature our hot drivers, with temperatures this week in the 90s, though promises to be in the low 80s come Sunday. It a facility well used, with 340 days of racing events featured annually.

This is no oval in the sunshine. Its undulating geography has them rise up through the second and third turns, where the inside tires ride higher than the outside. Uphill they go, through the chute before heading back down to reach the hairpin left-hand 11th turn. Then, it is a race to the finish line to complete the 1.99-mile journey.

Sonoma is where Tony Stewart claimed his final career victory, his third on the track. Only six active drivers remain who have claimed a win there. Kyle Busch has a pair. The other five include Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Stewart’s employee, Clint Bowyer. The latter pair sure could use another one about now.

No matter how your season has been going, a victory on the road course would make everything seem alright…just not alt.right. That is a totally different deal apparently.

The Hot 20 heading to Sonoma include…

1. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 3 WINS – 449 Pts
After signing up for an additional three seasons, wants Chad Knaus to join him.

2. KYLE LARSON – 2 WINS – 640 Pts
17th at Martinsville. 14th at Richmond. 33rd at Charlotte. 12th or better everywhere else.

3. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 2 WINS – 635 Pts
When you count playoff points, Truex becomes our leader.

4. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2 WINS – 476 Pts
Some say he could be the new man in the 88. Others say they then would burn their 88 gear.

5. RYAN BLANEY – 1 WIN – 376 Pts
Embrace your Nickelback adoration and become Hanna, Alberta’s most beloved driver.

6. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN – 359 Pts
Sonoma is wine country. Wine comes from grapes. Grapes grow on Busch’s. Okay, it’s a theory.

7. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 1 WIN – 354 Pts
When my wife has a bad day at the office, we don’t talk about work. Thought I might mention it.

8. RYAN NEWMAN – 1 WIN – 344 Pts
I briefly saw Newman at Michigan. Once, but I did see him.

9. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 297 Pts
Former Air Force fan sent him his flight gloves. My biggest fan is a proctologist. I want nothing.

10. KYLE BUSCH – 510 PTS
Has led in each of the past six races, and won the All-Star race. I do not think he has to worry.

11. KEVIN HARVICK – 508 PTS
From DeLana to Joey: “Congrats! Now you’ll really see who wears the fire suit in the family.”

12. CHASE ELLIOTT – 478 PTS
Runner-up finish last week was his best, to add to his handful of Top Fives in 15 attempts.

13. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 450 PTS
If his teammate can win, he can win. Next iconic race comes up soon in Daytona.

14. DENNY HAMLIN – 430 PTS
Was fourth on Sunday, which is good. Won the Xfinity race on Saturday (sort of), but who gives a damn?

15. JOEY LOGANO – 398 PTS – 1 Win
Encumbered is a fancy way of saying wins without benefits.

16. MATT KENSETH – 398 PTS
Fun fact: Only those currently in a Chase place have earned a playoff point this season.

17. CLINT BOWYER – 391 PTS
His boss won at Sonoma last year, he won in 2012, and Clint might need to do it again.

18. ERIK JONES – 346 PTS
Was racing recently in Senoia, Georgia. I wonder if he got to meet Carl, Rick, Daryl, and Negan?

19. TREVOR BAYNE – 323 PTS
This month he has a win and now Levi Jensen Bayne. It has been a great June for Trevor.

20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 313 PTS
Older drivers still rule, as just nine of this group of twenty are 20-somethings.

 



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

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.

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