Bowyer projected to win at Sonoma

Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Sonoma. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.99-mile road course) and time of year.

Stats & Info Top 15 Projections
NSCS at Sonoma

The first road course race of the year could be an opportunity for a non-familiar name to put themselves in the Chase. In seven of the past nine years, the Sonoma winner was a driver who had not yet won on the season. Our projected winner, Clint Bowyer, has not yet won this season. Bowyer qualified 25th but finished first and second in race trim during practices.

Jimmie Johnson won at Michigan for the first time last week, giving him 69 career victories. With his next win he would become the fourth-youngest to 70 wins, trailing only the top three drivers in wins in series history: Richard Petty, David Pearson and Jeff Gordon.

Speaking of Gordon, he’s finished second at Sonoma in two of the past three years and has eight straight top 10s at the track. Gordon is the series’ all-time leader with nine career road course wins, and his five wins at Sonoma is one shy of Bobby Allison’s record for the most at a single road course.

A driver to keep an eye on is Marcos Ambrose, a two-time road-course winner who’s still looking to break through at Sonoma. Ambrose is 23rd in points, but a win would make him a favorite to make the Chase. Since the start of 2009 Ambrose has been fastest driver on 172 laps in road course races, 106 laps more than anyone else.