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stucotz's 2013 Entry
King of the road
By Mark Garrow
Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images
Marcos Ambrose has the most points over the past four races on road courses.
Marcos Ambrose (17.3) is still trying to figure out how to win a Sprint Cup event on an oval track, but when it comes to road racing, he's already solved the puzzle at Watkins Glen and could be about to do the same this weekend at Sonoma.
Ask the garage who the best road racer is on NASCAR's top circuit these days, and the majority, without hesitation, will say it's Ambrose, who made a name for himself turning left and right on the way to winning the Australian V8 Supercar Series twice. He's been nearly unbeatable at the Glen, where he's won two in a row and never finished worse than third in five starts. Meanwhile, at Sonoma, he's had a shot to go to victory lane the past three years. Ambrose will tell you the track doesn't owe him one, but it really does. Remember in 2010, he was out front with a few laps to go and, trying to save gas, mistakenly shut his car going uphill under caution? When he couldn't restart the car, he gift wrapped the win for Jimmie Johnson (22.4) and wound up sixth. He would follow that up with a fifth-place run in 2011 and a year ago wound up eighth after starting from the pole.
I also think Ambrose is going to be even tougher driving the new Gen Six car. The Tasmanian Devil thought the previous Car of Tomorrow or COT was a big, heavy dinosaur, lumbering through the corners. The new car, however, is significantly lighter and more nimble. That will only make Ambrose even harder to catch.
Among the top-dollar drivers in the ESPN Stock Car Challenge, Johnson will have a good chance to keep Ambrose on his toes. The five-time champion is a better road racer than people give him credit for. As mentioned, he won at Sonoma in 2010, which is part of a string of four consecutive top-seven finishes. He's also captured the checkered flag on two occasions at the Glen and been top-5 four out of the past five races. Clint Bowyer (22.0) is the defending winner of the Toyota-Save Mart 350 and has only one finish worse than eighth in his past six Sonoma shootouts. Then, there's Jeff Gordon (20.1), a five-time Sonoma winner. The most recent trip to victory lane came in 2006, which began a streak of seven straight finishes of ninth or better. ... MORE
More Expert Analysis
Jayski.com's Mark Garrow analyzes the racing world every week for ESPN.com. Garrow provides readers with an in-depth look at driver trends, race history and life on the circuit. Follow each race with exclusive coverage from the track and create a championship Stock Car Challenge team.
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