Cleat Geeks

Pole Position Prophecies: Off-Roading NASCAR Style

This week NASCAR heads to one of its two road courses; Sanoma Raceway. Road course racing is a far cry from the traditional NASCAR race and as a result not every driver enjoys (or is good at for that matter) road courses. So for smaller teams looking for a solid finish or for larger teams who need a replacement driver due to either injury or suspension they bring in for these races what’s called a road course ringer. Richard Petty Motorsports is bringing in Road Course specialist Billy Johnson to fill in for the Injured Aric Almirola this week and long time road-course vet Boris Said taking Jeffery Earnhardt’s place in the 33  brings up the question: who are some of the best road course ringers in NASCAR history?

Alex Tagliani: Tagliani’s experience in NASCAR’s top series is fairly limited, even by road course ringer standards. Over 6 years he’s only run in 8 Xfinity series races and in 2 races over 2 years in Camping World truck series. But in those 2 truck series starts he has 1 top ten and won the pole for both races at Canadian race track Mosport Park. Furthermore, in those 8 Xfinity races he has 4 poles and 5 top tens proving he does have the skills to compete at the road courses in NASCAR’s top series.

Ron Fellows: Fellows is one of the few road course ringers to win races in 2 of NASCAR’s top 3 divisions, and even though none of those wins have come in the top series (4 Xfinity Series wins & 2 Truck Series wins) in 25 races over 16 years competing in the Monster Cup series Ron has 5 top tens. Additionally in the Xfinity Series in 25 races he finished with 15 top tens meaning he finished in the top ten in over half of the Xfinity races he competed in.

Boris Said: Boris Said is one of the most prominent road course specialists in NASCAR history. Said has ran 52 races over 17 years and will compete at Sanoma this week to continue his legacy. To go along with his long list of NASCAR races Boris has also collected 8 top tens and 2 poles in NASCAR’s top series making him one of the more successful road course ringers along with also finishing with 1 win and 9 top tens in both Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.

Marcos Ambrose: Since he competed full-time in the NASCAR cup series for multiple seasons Ambrose is not your traditional road course ringer. But Marcos came from the Australian Supercar Series which competed on mostly road courses and as a result over the 6 full seasons he raced in the Monster Cup series with both of his wins coming on road courses (both of them at Watkins Glenn) and only finished out side the top ten at NASCAR road courses once during that time span.

Dan Gurney: Dan Gurney is considered one of the best, and most successful, road course ringers in NASCAR history. Initially a Formula One driver Gurney did not race in NASCAR until he was past 30 years old, but over 10 years and 16 races Dan Gurney finished with 10 poles, 8 top tens, and 5 wins. All of his wins came at Riverside International Raceway where he holds the record for most career wins. On top of that not only did he win at Riverside 4 years in a row but also lapped the entire field during the 1964 Riverside race.

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