A.J. happy to be at home

For 36 of their 38 race weekends, NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers spend their lives turning left. This weekend is one of the two exceptions as the Cup series makes its annual appearance at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, a 1.9-mile, 10-turn permanent road course, Friday through Sunday.

Cup rookie A.J. Allmendinger, who has three Northern California cities claiming him as their own, spent all his racing life until this season turning right as well as left. Allmendinger, who was born in Los Gatos, graduated from Leigh High School in San Jose and launched his professional driving career while living in Hollister, rose through the Champ Car ladder system, racing almost exclusively on road and street courses until NASCAR came calling near the end of last season.

“It will be great to see my family and friends this weekend in California,” Allmendinger said. “As far as the race, the main thing I am looking forward to is getting to turn right again. Turning right on an oval isn’t so much fun because it means you are heading for the wall!

“But road-course racing is what I’ve grown up doing and what I am most comfortable doing. I am nervous about qualifying because you only get one lap to try to make the field. Once I am locked into the race, though, I can just relax and do my thing.”

Road Racer: Ron Fellows knows road racing and he will apply his talents to pilot the No. 96 Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, which is owned by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, this weekend at Infineon.

Several of the Nextel Cup teams bring in road specialists for the only two road courses on the schedule, this weekend at Infineon and in August at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Fellows has finished second twice at Watkins Glen and has two top-10s at Infineon in Cup races. Fellows has five American Le Mans Series wins at Infineon.

PROUD PAPA GORDON TO RACE

Defending champ Jeff Gordon won’t have to miss the Toyota/Save Mart 350 for the birth of his daughter. The Vallejo native became a father when his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, gave birth to a girl. Gordon announced on his Web site that Ella Sofia Gordon was born Wednesday morning. “It’s been an absolutely incredible experience,” Gordon said.

“Ingrid came through amazingly and we’re both really happy and overjoyed. We can’t wait to get home and start our lives together as a family.”

THIS WEEK’S PIT STOPS

NEXTEL CUP

WHAT: Toyota/Save Mart 350

WHERE: Sonoma

WHEN: Sun., 2 p.m.

BUSCH

WHAT: AT&T 250

WHERE: West Allis, Wis.

WHEN: Saturday, 5 p.m.

NHRA

WHAT: SuperNationals

WHERE: Englishtown, N.J.

WHEN: Sun., 8 a.m.

IRL

WHAT: Iowa Corn 250

WHERE: Newton, Iowa

WHEN: Sunday, 10 a.m.

CHAMP CAR

WHAT: Grand Prix of Cleveland

WHERE: Cleveland

WHEN: Sunday, 10 a.m.

FORMULA ONE

WHAT: French GP

WHERE: Magny Cours, France

WHEN: July 1


Which driver are you most looking forward to seeing this weekend?

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