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12 Memorable NASCAR Moments at Sonoma Raceway


12. 1989: The Three R’s of Road Racing

When it came to turning right and left in the late 1980s, you only need remember the three R’s: Richmond, Rusty and Rudd. Tim Richmond, Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd were among the best in ’80s, and when NASCAR first came to Sonoma for the second time in 1989, Wallace and Rudd were the main attraction in the closing laps. Look how those old cars slithered, slid and bounded all over the track while still appearing just as stock as the “vaunted” Gen-6 car.

by Vito Pugliese

11. 2010: Ambrose's Win Stalls Out

Marcos Ambrose had the 2010 Sonoma race in hand … until the car wouldn’t restart. He shuts it off under caution trying to conserve fuel, but did so in the uphill portion, not the downhill part where he could have clutch-started it. He doesn’t maintain position; the car does not re-fire; and JTG-Daugherty Racing now benches Cup champions in favor of prescription drug enthusiasts.

by Vito Pugliese

10. 2007: Who Needs a 5 Second Delay?

Kyle Petty gives a pre-race invocation as he launches his TV analyst career from inside the car — then has a few choice words for Matt Kenseth driving into him in Turn 9. What is it with the Petty’s cussing on camera?

by Vito Pugliese

9. 2003: Synchronized Spinning

Kurt Busch, Scott Pruett and Jeff Burton make for an interesting trio back in 2003. Busch’s Banzai movie through the Chute – a corner created for some grandstand seating – goes awry.

by Vito Pugliese

8. 1994: The Dukes of Sonoma

Strange things used to happen at Sonoma before they put up more impressive barriers and went to the current lifeless layout (versus the standard sports car carousel course). John Krebs and Derrike Cope launch their machines out of the joint like Cale at Darlington in this clip. You really got your money there in those old days if you had infield seating.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 1999: Steve Park's Ollie

By 1999, the X Games were going into their fifth season and Steve Park was in his second as driver of DEI’s No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Park has an issue in Turn 1 – the hot spot of the track in its earlier days – and pulls off a kick flip into an Ollie atop the tire wall … and sticks it. Thank Ned Jarrett for that X Games quip.

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by Vito Pugliese

6. 1989: Four Tires are Better than Three

In 1989, Mark Martin and his Stroh’s Light Roush team tested 18 times in an effort to get their first win. But they could have probably used a little more pit practice as Martin found out exiting the pit road in … and ending up on his lid. The crew was probably a bit surprised to see their driver sprinting back down pit road to tell them of his adventure. Once the car was returned to the pits for new tires, he returned but finished five laps down.

by Vito Pugliese

5. 1999: Schrader Is … Inverted

Before it was known as Sonoma or Infineon Raceway, it was simply Sears Point. Ken Schrader goes upside down here in 1999, flipping his Skoal Chevrolet. Old tires make for energy absorption, but they also had a habit of launching cars skyward.

by Vito Pugliese

4. 2011: Payback's a ... Trip into the Tire barrier

Before he ever tried soda cookies, Smoke had some issues with spare tires. After vexing Brian Vickers in 2011, he really had some problems. Unhappy with blocking in any form, Stewart made an example of Vickers. In return, “The Sheriff” went vigilante on Stewart in Turn 9, parking him atop the tire barrier. To his credit, Stewart didn’t even really seem that upset over it.

by Vito Pugliese

3. 2001: Robby Gordon is a Moving Chicane

Driving for Jim Smith’s low budget effort in 2001, Robby Gordon had his sights set on a road course victory in the closing stages. What he didn’t anticipate, though, was racing Kevin Harvick — who was a lap down but on new tires. In a classic example of cutting off your nose to spite your face, Gordon races Harvick hard on what can only be assumed was a matter of principle, allowing Tony Stewart to catch and pass him for what would have assuredly been a victory. The actions starts around 2:34.

by Vito Pugliese

2. 2003: Gordon vs. Gordon

After Robby Gordon nerfed Jeff Gordon out of the way for his first career win in 2000, you don’t think he’d mind snookering him again – as well as a teammate – to capture a win on a road course, do ya? Before he faded into obscurity in later years under the weight of running his own operation, Robby Gordon was arguably the best driver to show up on a road course, and was only held up by traffic, poor decisions or the limits of the car – but not caution flags. No worries though; this was when you could still race back to the line.

by Vito Pugliese

1. 1991: Four Leaders in Final Four Laps

Might as well just settle in and watch this. Mark Martin and Tommy Kendall (subbing for Kyle Petty who was out with a broken leg) battle for the lead when Kendall has a tire go down, and takes out Martin has he passes him for the lead. Ricky Rudd and Davey Allison take over from there, staging a classic battle for the win. While NASCAR claims it does not take away victories, Rudd’s bump ‘n’ run is proof otherwise. This finish is as controversial as you’ll see in the Cup Series.

by Vito Pugliese