Toyota/Save Mart 350 Free Picks
(The Spread) – This week NASCAR heads out West for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, which will be the first of two road course races this year.
You will hear plenty of fans complain that this isn't NASCAR racing, but we think this is some of the best racing we will see this year, seeing as how it's more than just turning left and who has clean air.
Starting upfront at any road course is very important and at Infineon, it's a must to start. A driver starting in the top 10 has won 70 percent of all races run at Infineon. Of the 22 races here, only twice has a driver started from 21st or worse and won, so look for drivers who have shown they qualify well here. Infineon Raceway is a technical track that is a lot slower than Watkins Glen. The difference between the two is night and day and traditionally this track is tougher on non-road course skilled NASCAR drivers.
One thing we always hear about for these races is the so-called "Road Course Ringers." Well, all you have to know is that they have yet to win a race and putting your money on them has been a losing proposition. We won't see as many “ringers” as in year’s past and our recommendation is not to get caught up in the hype and stay away from them entirely.
Ambrose had this race won last year but his fuel-saving tactic (i.e. shutting off his car going uphill) ruined his chances and cost him the victory. Ambrose has five top-5 finishes in six career road course starts, with an average finish of 3.5 in the last five road course races. Both Ambrose and teammate A.J. Allmendinger have shown all year they have the cars to compete, so if he can avoid another big mistake he should finally pick up his first win in this series.
For years, Gordon was the king of these races, winning five of nine outings here at one point. Although he’s been off his game the last few years on road courses, we know this is a race he wants to win badly each and every year. No active driver comes close to his five career victories at Infineon Raceway, and he also has 14 top-10 finishes in 18 career races at this track. Even when Gordon is having an off year he still does well on the road courses – especially Infineon, since this is what many consider his home track. Look for Gordon to get back on track at a place he once dominated.
Robbie Gordon may be the best road course driver in this series, but he always seems to find trouble or lets his temper get the best of him when things don't go his way. If his car is right and he gets out front, he could be long gone. But once he gets stuck back in traffic he seems to lose it and his day is over. That said, there are too many question marks keeping him from being one of our top plays this week, but is worth a small play at this price.