JEFF GORDON/#24 Dupont Chevrolet showed Friday that has a more than good chance of winning his fifth NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon raceway when he was fastest in 90 degree F weather, with a time of 76.575/93.555 mph. He turned the lap on his sixth of six laps at the 1.99-mile elevated road course in the Northern California wine country.
One of the so-called 'Road Race Ringers,' BORIS SAID/#60 Sobe-No Fear Ford was fourth fastest, behind KURT BUSCH/#2 Miller Lite Dodge and ROBBY GORDON/#7 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet. GREG BIFFLE/#16 National Guard Ford was fifth. Another Ringer, RON FELLOWS/#32 Tide Chevrolet was sixth.
Seventh through tenth were BRIAN VICKERS/#25 GMAC Chevrolet, KEN SCHRADER/#21 Little Debbie Ford, who is also racing in the NASCAR Grant National West Series race here this weekend; JAMIE McMURRAY/#26 Crown Royal Ford; and RYAN NEWMAN/#12 Altel Dodge.
Points leader JIMMY JOHNSON/#48 Lowes Chevrolet was twelfth and 2005 Champion, TONY STEWART/#20 Home Depot Chevrolet was seventeenth after briefly leading at the beginning of the session.
Friday's weather was slightly cooler than Thursday's triple-digit heat. Warm weather racing will be a concern for the drivers as well as crew chiefs, working on setups.
NASCAR racing has coined unique words or phrases to describe its drivers and their activities. Among them are "Double Duty" for drivers running more than one race at a given weekend; Buschwhackers to describe the Nextel Cup drivers who race in the Busch Series, often taking points away from the Busch regulars; and Ringers, used to describe a road racer running the Nextel Cup road course racers. This weekend there are several Ringers running the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway, the first of two road courses on the Cup schedule.
There are eight drivers this weekend who are considered 'road course ringers' and all have to qualify for the Nextel Cup race based on their time as they do not have the luxury of racing for a team which is in the top 35 Owner Points and guaranteed a starting position. As
They are RON FELLOWS/#32 Tide Chevrolet;DAVE GILLILAND/#72 Dutch Quality Stone Dodge; TOM HUBERT/#27 Chevrolet; P.J. JONES/#4 AERO Exhaust Chevrolet; JOHNNY MILLER/#34 Oak Gloves Chevrolet; SCOTT PRUETT/#40 Coors Light Dodge; BORIS SAID/#60 Sobe-No Fear Ford; and BRIAN SIMO/#61 Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet.
Fellows is fresh from his run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans which he ran last weekend. His factory Corvette was a Magnet for Misery - everything that could happen to it did, but it finished. In the seven years the two factory American Le Mans Corvettes have been running the traditional French sports car endurance race, they have both finished every year. Fellow's teammate was JOHNNY O'CONNELL, who is also racing this weekend, in the factory Cadillac in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race. He was third overall in a field of 29 entries.