SONOMA, Calif. –Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won five straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, dating to Jeff Gordon’s May 10 victory at Kansas Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson followed with wins at Charlotte at Dover before Dale Earnhardt Jr. collected his second victory of the year in the June race at Pocono. Last week at Michigan, Johnson finally broke his jinx with his first triumph at the two-mile speedway.
Even though Johnson, Gordon and Kasey Kahne all have won at Sonoma, Johnson stopped short of predicting victory for HMS at the 1.99-mile road course. After all, there have been nine different winners in the last nine Sonoma races.
“It’s been such a different race the last five or six years, when you look at the winners,” Johnson said Friday before the opening Sprint Cup practice. “People you might not put into that road course ringer category, myself included … I won, Martin (Truex, Jr.), Clint (Bowyer), Kasey Kahne was in there at some point. More traditional oval guys, so I think this is the hardest race to pick yet.
“Then, when you add the fuel strategy that typically plays in, that shakes it up as well. I think all four of our Hendrick cars will be capable of it, and we certainly want to keep the streak alive, but I can’t pick a favorite here. I could probably pick a favorite, but I don’t think there is a safe bet on a winner. I think there are 20, 25 cars that could win here.”
Johnson, of course, would like nothing better than to post a fourth triumph this season, just three days before he and his No. 48 team are scheduled to visit President Barack Obama at the White House in recognition of their 2013 championship.