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  • TheReporter.com DailyDemocrat.com

    TimesHeraldOnline.com

  • Sunday, June 21, 2015 For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat2

    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the beautiful Sonoma Valley for the 27th Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 26-28.

    This year’s event is particularly sig-nificant, as it marks the last race for the “king” of Sonoma Raceway, Jeff Gordon, as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Jeff’s mark on NASCAR, both na-tionally and locally, cannot be understated.

    On-track, fans can enjoy the second year of NASCAR’s knock-out style qualifying on Saturday. The weekend will again feature two practice sessions on Great Clips Fast Friday and Drive for Safety Pole Day qualifying on Saturday morning. Plus, NASCAR’s championship format means race wins are more important than ever, so drivers are sure to do whatever it takes to visit the Wine Country Winner’s Circle. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 has featured 10 different winners over the past 10 years, proving it’s truly anyone’s race to win.

    Sonoma Raceway has also amped up its pre-race entertainment to maximize fans enjoyment of race weekend. In addi-tion to the thrilling Patriots Jet Team Air Show on Sunday, fans will also enjoy aeronautical aerobatics from Kirby Chambliss from the Red Bull Air Race World Championships, a pre-race concert by The Voice’s Lindsay Bruce and an outstanding national anthem by award-winning singer/songwriter Morgan Karr.

    Wrap up that package with exciting racing from the NASCAR Pro Series West, including a 64-lap feature on Saturday, a Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Sunday, a giant Ferris Wheel at Turn 8, incredible six-jet Patriots Jet Team air show during pre-race, the all-new Save Mart/Lucky Breaking Zone fan enter-tainment zone and much more. This is a weekend in the Wine Country you don’t want to miss!

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    Getty ImagesNASCAR driver Kyle Busch looks for his second win in wine country, since taking the checkers in 2008.

    Stephen Scharf

    Friday, June 26– Great Clips Fast Friday9:30 a.m. Ð 10:20 a.m. ............................................................................................................................................. Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice10:30 a.m. Ð 11:50 a.m. ........................................................................................................................................... NASCAR K&N Pro Series West PracticeNoon Ð 1:55 p.m. ............................................................................................................... Great Clips Fast Friday NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice2 p.m. Ð 3 p.m. ............................................................................................................................................... NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Final Practice3:05 p.m. Ð 3:25 p.m. ............................................................................................................................................... Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice3:30 p.m. Ð 4:55 p.m. .............................................................................................. Great Clips Fast Friday NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice5:10 p.m. Ð 5:40 p.m. ............................................................................................................................................ Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Qualifying

    Saturday, June 27 – Drive for Safety Pole Day8:15 a.m. Ð 8:35 a.m. ....................................................................................................................................... Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Final Practice9 a.m. .........................................................................................................................................................................   Jeff Gordon Q&A (start/finish line stage)9:45 a.m. .............................................................................................................................................................. NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Qualifying11:15 a.m. ................................................................................................................................... Drive for Safety NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying12:30 p.m. Ð 1:15 p.m. ............................................................................................................................................... Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Race 12 p.m. ......................................................................................................................................... Carneros 200 NASCAR Pro Series West Race (64 Laps)

    Sunday, June 28 – Toyota/Save Mart 3508:05 a.m. Ð 8:25 a.m. ............................................................................................................................................... Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Warm Up10 a.m. .............................................................................................................................................................................  Driver/Crew Chief Meeting (Turn 11)10:45 a.m. .......................................................................................................................................................... Toyota/Save Mart 350 Pre-Race Ceremonies10:50 a.m. ........................................................................................................................................................................................ Patriot Jet Team Air Show 11:20 a.m. .............................................................................................................................................................. Toyota/Save Mart 350 Driver IntroductionsNoon .......................................................................................................................... Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race (110 laps)Followed by ............................................................................................................................................. Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Race 2 (45 minutes)

    SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE

    TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350SONOMA RACEWAY – JUNE 26–28

    EVENT SCHEDULE

    �Sonoma Raceway, Pacific Gas & Elec-tric (PG&E) and Intel have teamed up to host the Hire America’s Heroes STEM Career Fair. The Career Fair takes place on Friday of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 race weekend and targets up to 40 employ-ers and 150+ job applicants.

    The Hire America’s Heroes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Career Fair, sponsored by PG&E and Intel, pairs military job seekers with opportuni-ties in the corporate workforce. The event features a variety of 30-minute presentations and workshops to build participant skill sets

    for transitioning to the job market, along with employer representatives with active job openings. Some of the expected employ-ers at the event include PG&E, Intel, Volt, Boeing, Amazon and more.

    Participants in the job fair receive access to the raceway on Great Clips Fast Friday and two reserved-seat tickets for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR race on Sunday.

    PG&E has partnered with Hire America’s Heroes, an organization dedicated to connecting America’s major corporations with the rich skills and abili-ties of military service members and their

    families for the purpose of employment in the corporate workforce.

    PG&E has been a long-standing cham-pion in supporting veterans. For example, the utility’s PowerPathway™ program has graduated 600 people—including 300 vet-erans—through this nationally-recognized workforce development program with 80 percent having been hired by PG&E or the utility industry. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited a training class in Oakland and praised the program for its success. In addition, PG&E received the Faraday Award at the Electric Power Conference for its

    work in successfully connecting, employing and engaging veterans to become long-term employees in the power industry.

    Sonoma Raceway would like to thank all the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served our country. For more information on future career fairs or to sign up as a job seeker, volunteer or employer ex-hibitor, visit www.HireAmericasHeroes.org.

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  • Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Sunday, June 21, 2015 3

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    Ticket Packages

    Save Mart and Lucky Supermarkets: Your Lowest Priced Ticket

    For the fifth straight year, Save Mart and Lucky Supermarkets will offer race fans the best ticket value to see NASCAR racing in Sonoma, and for the first time ever, kid’s tickets are now free in store. Adults can secure a Sunday reserved-seat ticket for just $45 in the Turn 9 Terrace.

    Real. Strong. Humboldt RedwoodDeck – Club Access

    Enjoy all-day access to the Redwood Deck premium hospitality area and select your seats from anywhere in the Turn 2 Terrace. Package includes a reserved seat in the Turn 2 Terrace, Pre-race Pit and Track Pass, preferred-parking pass and a $20 food credit. Space is limited to the first 200. Sunday: $199 / Saturday: $99.

    Jeff Gordon 24 SpecialIn honor of Jeff Gordon’s final green flag at

    Sonoma as a full-time driver, Sonoma Raceway is offering a special Saturday ticket to see Jeff Gordon and attend his Q&A Saturday morning during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend. When you buy a Sunday ticket, you can get a Saturday main grandstand ticket for just $24. This main grandstand ticket puts you front and center for Jeff’s Q&A.

    Raceway Fun TrainRide the train to NASCAR from Sacramento,

    Davis or Fairfield/Suisun. Includes round-trip train transportation, reserved seat, pre-race ac-cess and more for just $199.

    Sports Fan ExpressRide the bus to NASCAR from a location

    near you.Ticket and bus pass combos as low as

    $79 or add the bus ride to your current ticket for just $30!

    Family 4-PackBring the family out to NASCAR! Enjoy

    the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with the conven-ience of the Family 4-Pack. This package includes 4 upper reserved tickets in the Turn 3 Terrace, 4 hot dogs, and 4 sodas for $245. You can also choose your own seats for the Family 4-Pack by calling (800) 870-7223.

    NASCAR Total Access (must be 18 or older)Save $25 on a Main Grandstand or Turn 2

    Terrace reserved seat and a Pre-Race Pit and Track Pass. Get great seats on action-packed sections of the track, plus track access for pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions. PLUS: Go inside the action with a Fanvision Controller! Choose from live race broadcast, in car cameras, instant replays and more. All this

    for only $149 (Turn 2) or $165 (Lower Main Grandstand)!

    Premium Packages

    Checkered Flag ClubProviding the perfect venue for hosting key

    clients and associates, the Checkered Flag Club is an exclusive chalet offering:

    • Premium catering including continental breakfast buffet and luncheon buffet

    • Open beer and wine bar• Pre-race Pit Pass• Reserved table seating• Reserved seating in the Turn 2 TerraceCheckered Flag Club access is $395 per

    person and is ideal for groups of 8 or more. Sunday only.

    Pit Road Club*Air-conditioned suite located directly across

    from pit road that includes catered lunch, Pre-Race Pit and Track Pass, VIP parking and more.

    $725 Sunday, $250 Saturday, or $849 for two days.

    Access, Upgrades and Fun

    Club 7 Entertainment presented by Outback Steakhouse

    Trackside bar featuring catered food,

    entertainment presented by Outback Steakhouse, driver appearances including Kevin Harvick and Sam Hornish Jr., special guests and more! $49 single-day or $79 two-day.

    Pre-Race Pit and Track Pass*Includes pre-race Cold Pit pass, track access

    for all pre-race activities and driver introduc-tions. $75

    Turn 7 “Tailgater” Parking Get the closest access to the Turn 7 and 9

    seating areas, and enjoy tailgating just a short walk from your seats.

    This reserved parking lot is a must-have for first timers or seasoned ticket holders!

    $5 Friday, $10 Saturday, $20 Sunday or $25 for the weekend.

    *Must be 18 and older to use Pre-Race Pit and Track Pass.

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    �F or the third consecutive year, NAS-CAR fans can take a one-of-a-kind ride to the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway with the Raceway Fun Train.

    The raceway will partner with Key Holidays to offer an express train that will transport fans directly from the Sacramento area to the raceway on race day, Sunday, June 28.

    The train will depart from Sacramento, with stops in Davis and Suisun City, and traverse some of Northern California’s most spectacular scenery before dropping passengers just steps from the raceway’s main entrance.

    Race fans should act fast, as this year’s 650-seat train is expected to be a sellout. Last year’s train was a huge success, and

    we are pleased to utilize the SMART-owned track to bring back the Raceway Fun Train.

    “The train to NASCAR has been a re-sounding success in its first two years,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “Our fans have told us it turned their race experience into a full day’s adventure, and they can’t wait to board the train again this June.”

    The Raceway Fun Train, formerly the NASCAR Express, offers fans a unique alternative to avoid highway traffic and parking hassles on race-day, and will feature café cars with on-board food and beverage service. The train is also a great option for small and large groups to enjoy the entire NASCAR race-day experience together.

    “I loved riding the NASCAR train for the second year in a row,” said Eric Ruud

    of Sparks, Nev. “I invited a bunch of my friends to join me and we had a blast. They were envious last year when the train passed them as they sat in traffic.”

    It’s a one-stop shop to purchase your race-day ticket and Raceway Fun Train pass. The $199 premium package includes:

    • A reserved-seat in the Main Grandstand• Round-trip travel from Sacramento,

    Davis or Suisun• VIP main-gate entry• On-track access to driver introduction

    and pre-race ceremonies• Commemorative giftKey Holidays has served as an Amtrak

    Regional Tour Operator for 32 years, includ-ing the famous Reno Fun Train. As a partner on the Raceway Fun Train for the second consecutive year, Key Holidays will also

    offer pre- and/or post-event hotel packages in Sacramento. For more information, visit www.keyholidays.com.

    Don’t miss your chance to get onboard the Raceway Fun Train to Sonoma. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 marks Jeff Gordon’s final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Sonoma and NASCAR’s only stop in Northern California. It has become one of the most exciting and unpredictable events on the circuit as tempers flare on the road course’s tight turns.

    Seats are limited, so for more information on the Raceway Fun Train or to purchase your ticket package today, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit www.racesonoma.com/nascar. Operation and schedule subject to change by railroads and track or weather conditions.

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    Mike Finnegan

  • Sunday, June 21, 2015 For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat4

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    The Toyota/Save Mart 350 is sure to feature its usual high-intensity, fender-banging action, and to set the tone for one of the most exciting races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sched-ule, Sonoma Raceway has put together an unforgettable pre-race show featuring everything from jets to aeronautical aero-batics to live music entertainment, and of course a tribute to Northern California native, Jeff Gordon.

    Listed below is what fans can expect dur-ing this year’s incredible pre-race show:

    Jeff Gordon Tribute Jeff Gordon is the undisputed king of

    the road course with five wins and five pole positions in wine country, the most of any driver. Sonoma has always been a special place for Gordon and Sonoma Raceway has put together a special video tribute for the Vallejo native, whose racing roots stem from Northern California. Also, be sure to wave your Hometown Hero rally towel on lap 24 in honor of Gordon.

    Team Chambliss - Red Bull Air Race World Championships

    Team Chambliss from the Red Bull Air Race World Championships will delight fans in a Zivko Edge 540 with a show of high speed, low altitude aeronautical aerobatics. Kirby Chambliss is one of the most outstanding pilots ever to fly in the Red Bull Air Race, boasting two World Championships and eight race victories, which puts him joint third on the all-time wins list. Chambliss is an aerobatics World Champion and helped develop the Red Bull Air Race with innovations, his sharp tacti-cal mind and an insatiable appetite to win.

    Pre-Race Concert and God Bless America by Lindsay Bruce

    Born and raised in nearby Santa Rosa, singer-songwriter Lindsay Bruce is the voice of California country. In 2014, Bruce beat out more than 60,000 hopefuls, landing a spot on Season 6 of The Voice, joining Team Shakira and working with Miranda Lambert. Bruce will perform a three-song set as well as God Bless America during pre-race festivities.

    Patriots Jet Team Air ShowThe Patriots Jet Team will electrify race

    fans with a 25-minute air show just one-hour before the green flag drops! The demon-stration will feature six-L-39 albatross jets strutting their fast-paced formation flying, choreographed six-jet diamond-formation aerobatic maneuvers and their signature “Tail Slide,” where the aircraft actually slides backwards toward the ground.

    Driver IntroductionsThe field of NASCAR Sprint Cup

    Series drivers will walk the “cat walk” before taking their pre-race parade lap. Be sure you’ve purchased your Pre-Race Pit & Track Pass to get an up-close look at driver introductions.

    Save Mart Giant Shopping CartSave Mart Supermarkets will take

    its giant 12-foot shopping cart for a lap around the road course.

    National Anthem performed by Morgan Karr

    Award-winning singer/songwriter Morgan Karr will salute our county by performing the national anthem before the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Karr, a na-tive of Nashville, will appear in concert in Transcendence Theatre’s “Under the Stars” at Landmark Vineyards, Aug. 1-2.

    Anthem Flyover Provided by Naval Air Station Lemoore

    Central California’s Naval Air Station Lemoore will provide two jets that will soar through the sky imme-diately following the national anthem. NAS Lemoore is home for all Navy F/A-18 strike fighter squadrons on the West Coast and is committed to sup-porting the Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in its mission to train, man and equip our strike fighter squad-rons. Approximately 7,200 military and 1,300 civilians work at NAS Lemoore.Visitors to NAS Lemoore would be impressed by the level of activity in the air, maintenance hangars and support commands that make NAS Lemoore the Navy’s premier Master Jet Base.

    Drivers, Start Your Engines!Following all of this incredible

    entertainment, it’s time to fire up the engines for 110 laps on the Sonoma Valley road course!

    Command Flyover Fastening Systems International, Inc.

    (FSI), a Sonoma based supplier of aero-space and industrial fasteners, tooling, sheet metal and composite repair tool kits, is pleased to sponsor this year’sToyota / Save Mart 350 Command Fly-by, featuring a P-40N Warhawk andthree P-51D Mustang fighter planes.The planes have been brought together by VINTAGE AIRCRAFT, which is based at the Schellville Airport, Sonoma County, where visitors to our beautiful Sonoma Valley can arrange the ride of a lifetime in vintage aircraft, includ-ing a PT-17 Basic Trainer Bi-Plane, an AT-6 (SNJ) Advanced Trainer, as well as the P-40N and P-51D fighter aircraft featured in today’s flyover. FSI would also like us to remember all the “Rosie

    the Riveters” that worked so tirelessly during World War II to help assemble these aircraft, and the ground crews and pilots that maintained and flew them.As their generation passes into history, we salute and honor them alongside all our nation’s veterans for their service to our country.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger to Drive Pace Car

    Famed actor and former California gov-ernor Arnold Schwarzenegger will drive a zero-emission 2016 Toyota Mirai pace car to kick off the Toyota/Save Mart 350.Schwarzenegger, whose newest movie, Terminator Genisys, will be released on July 1, will lead the field of 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock cars around the twists and turns of Sonoma Raceway to kick off the 110-lap feature. He will pilot a 2016 Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle that can travel up to 300 miles in a single five-minute fill up. It will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle used as a pace car in Sonoma.

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    Pam JacobsonNASCAR drivers will take part in a kids-only autograph session on Satur-day of the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

    Nate JacobsonThere is plenty for the family to enjoy when NASCAR returns to wine country, June 26-28.

    Getty ImagesThe Patriot Jet Team will perform a 25-minute air show during Toyota/Save Mart 350 pre-race ceremonies.

  • Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Sunday, June 21, 2015 5

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    By: Lori Worley

    �W ithout a doubt, the biggest surprise of the year has been Jeff Gordon’s announcement in January that, after 24 years of Sprint Cup racing, he is retiring at the end of the season.

    At 43 years old – and coming off a four-win season in 2014 – it was inconceivable that one of NASCAR’s biggest stars would walk away from the sport. Gordon, however, was resolute about his decision.

    “I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said. “A lot of people look at me just hav-ing the Cup and NASCAR career, but to me it goes far

    beyond that. You wake up in the morning and you have aches and pains from racing. You look at what I’ve accomplished, which has been incredible and is far more than I ever anticipated.

    “Then I see my kids growing up and how much time I spend away from them and I want to do more with them. I want to do more with other opportunities that are out there so it just seemed like the time was right. I’ve thought about this for a number of years and the pieces just started falling into place through conversations with Rick Hendrick, my wife and John Bickford. I’m glad it’s this year; it’s been great.”

    Gordon’s Sprint Cup career has been the stuff of legends. He is a four-time Sprint Cup champion (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001) with 92 wins, third most on the all-time win list. His 80 poles lead all active drivers and he is ranked third all-time. He won at least one pole in 23 consecutive seasons, a NASCAR record. The Toyota-Save Mart 350 will be his 777th straight start, mak-ing him the leader for all-time consecutive starts. Since he started running a full Cup schedule in 1993, Gordon has failed to win a race in only three seasons.

    The accolades go on and on for Gordon, one of NASCAR’s all-time greats and a certain Hall of Famer, who knew keeping

    his focus on racing – and winning – this year was going to be a challenge.

    “It’s certainly already been a heck of a season,” said Gordon who opened the season by winning the Daytona 500 pole. “Once you make that announcement you want to enjoy every moment. Yes, you want to have a great season and I’m focused on that. I’ve got a great team and luckily this isn’t affecting them at all. They’re plugging along and doing an amazing job.

    “Behind the scenes a lot is going on because a lot of people have been part of my career, friends, family, individuals that have contributed a lot and I want to enjoy these moments with them so we certainly have a lot of planning in place for later in the season in how we can interact with all those folks.”

    While Gordon has been bracing himself for the myriad of feelings that come with leaving his racing career behind, he says without a doubt if he fi nds himself in vic-tory lane at some point, it would be more meaningful.

    “I think if I win it would be more of an emotional win,” he said. “And there are tracks that mean a lot to me because they were there when I fi rst started. Atlanta was my fi rst race (1992) and even though it didn’t go well (started 21st, fi nished 31st), there were more emotions there because it was my fi rst race.

    “Charlotte is similar because it’s the fi rst track I won at. So there will be moments like that. But you’d be surprised when you get in the car, put the helmet on and fl ip the switch…it’s hard to think about anything else other than how can I win this race and how can I drive this car the best way possible.”

    One track where a win would certainly be special is Sonoma Raceway, where Gordon has fi ve wins, more than any other driver, including three straight from 1998 to 2000.

    While Gordon grew up in Vallejo, not far from Sonoma Raceway, he never saw the road course until 1993, the fi rst time he raced there.

    “I grew up racing in go-karts, racing all around the area and that was extremely critical and important to where I ended up getting to,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of experience (on road courses) but I always

    had a hometown crowd pulling for me. There was family or friends I went to school with or raced with growing up.

    “There’s something special about Sonoma. Just going there and being sur-rounded by all that motivates me. Beyond that, I love the challenge of that road course. My team gives me great race cars and I just guess I feel good there. I got engaged to Ingrid there….good things happen when I’m there. A lot is that home feeling, the great weather, great wins and a great race track.”

    When it’s all said and done and he runs the last lap of his career at Homestead in November, when Gordon looks back over his career, what does he feel will be his legacy?

    “I love racing, have loved it since I was fi ve years old,’’ he said. “My heroes were race car drivers; I wanted to be like them. I wanted to put everything I possibly could into racing. Most of the time it was me driving myself and if you’re that driven and you expect success you become passionate about it.

    “I want to see other people become like that and I think there are a lot of those in our sport that are passionate but you need to bring those passions out in your every day life as a race car driver on and off the track. And that means you give everything you possibly can. That’s probably what I’m most proud of.

    “I can say that I’ve honestly put my heart and soul into it,” he continued. “I’ve worked really hard at being a good race car driver and I’ve worked really hard at doing more off the track to help the sport, help my own brand and help charitable causes and I think because I’ve put a lot of effort into that, yes this sport has grown, but I’ve grown along with it. And it’s been an amazing experience.”

    One thing about Gordon is that he’s never changed, particularly when it comes to giving back. In fact, as his success grew, so did his philanthropic endeavors. He says to

    fi gure out why, just look at his parents.“My parents were always people who

    thought of others,” he said. “They were very considerate, very humble. So I think I got a lot of them from them. They were just good people. Still are. They did things for other people when they didn’t need to and that certainly impacted me.

    “Then when I got into NASCAR, I saw some of the greats doing a lot for the fans, doing a lot for children and families in need and I realized I could do that too. And I never looked at it as a burden. I looked at it as an opportunity, that this is part of my role. If I was going to be successful, I have to give back as much as I can because it’s given so much to me.”

    And when the season does come to a close, has Gordon thought about what he’ll be doing? He knows one thing for sure, he won’t just be sitting around.

    “I’m still putting the pieces together,” he said. “I know I’m going to be busy. I hope to be busy on weekends with my kids when I’m not doing other things. And there’s certainly not going to be 38 weeks out of the year taking me away. We’ve got some great partnerships that we’ll be evolving and then there’s my involvement with Hendrick Motorsports. And there’s my foundation, as well as some other things that are on the horizon.”

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    Joe JacobsonNorthern California native, Jeff Gordon, made it three-in-a-row in Sonoma after taking the win in 2000.

  • Sunday, June 21, 2015 For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat6

    By: Lori Worley

    Carl Edwards is more than a little hap-py to have yet another opportunity to conquer Sonoma Raceway when the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit returns to wine country for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

    He’ll be coming into this year’s race in a bit of a different situation than in 2014. For one thing, he’ll be driving a Toyota instead of the Ford he was piloting a year ago. He’ll also be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing instead of Roush-Fenway.

    Then, there’s the fact that Edwards enters this year’s race as its defending champion. That’s right, after years of futility, Edwards was finally able to taste some wine in Sonoma’s Wine Country Winner’s Circle in his 10th attempt last season.

    Needless to say, finally capturing the checkers at what he considered one of his most challenging tracks was a big moment for Edwards.

    “It means a lot to me,” he said after-ward of his 23rd career Sprint Cup win. “My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb… To be able to come here and to be able to win this race 10 years later is really special. A lot of hard work has gone into this.”

    A year later, Edwards remembers all too well his initial trip to Sonoma Raceway back in 2005.

    “The first time I came out to Sonoma to test, I had no clue what I was doing,” he said. “I was a very bad road course racer, so for me the accomplishment of winning that race last year is probably the most proud I’ve been of a win.

    “It’s one of the most fun tracks we go to. We’re purely driving those cars and manhan-dling them around the track. Plus, it’s just a beautiful area. I love coming out there. There are so many neat things to see. It’s one of my favorite – if not my favorite – race tracks.”

    Last year’s win was the second of the season for Edwards, who clinched a berth in the Chase with the victory. Entering this year’s event, Edwards is still looking for his first win in a Gibbs’ Toyota but he’s already had some really strong runs.

    “So far the relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota has been amazing,” said

    the 35-year-old driver. “It was a very tough decision for me but I made the change from a team I’d basically been with for 12 years and the idea was that it would hopefully spur some performance.

    “And we’ve run really good so far and I’ve had a good time and I’m learning. It’s been good.”

    After such a long tenure with Roush-Fenway, leaving the only home he’d known wasn’t easy for Edwards.

    “It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, period,” he said. “But I looked around and all these guys were making changes and doing very well. …Kevin (Harvick) and Ryan (Newman) basically switched teams (last year) and (finished) one-two.

    “Even if you take Tony Stewart’s change, when he left Joe Gibbs Racing, I thought that was crazy. That didn’t even seem like it made any sense, but it spurred great performance. Joey Logano, he made a change; huge per-formance. At the same time, (former Roush teammate and current JGR teammate) M’att Kenseth came over and filled Joey’s seat and his performance went through the roof.”

    Because of the success those drivers found when they switched teams, Edwards says he feels some pressure to produce – and rather quickly.

    “I didn’t understand that until we first made the announcement. I got that feeling…of ‘Man, I’ve got to go prove myself,’” he said. “It was that little bit of insecurity that every driver walks around with for a long time. I hadn’t had that feeling for a while but either way I hope I can do the same thing that those guys have done and have a great year.

    “This year is a little bit different; it reminds me of my first year full-time in the Cup Series,” he continued. “I feel a little anxious; a little nervous about it. It’s nice. I haven’t had that feeling for a long time and it’s a motivator. I’m as focused as I’ve ever been and I’m excited as I’ve ever been. This is a neat opportunity for me.

    “I’m just excited to get to learn from these guys and get to race under the JGR banner for Toyota. I’ve been wearing my driver’s suit a lot.”

    Edwards drives the fourth car in the Joe

    Gibbs Racing stable, which also includes past Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. He says he’s never been concerned about being another mouth at the table to feed, so to speak.

    “Any time a team adds another car, they have to build that car and there are extra costs involved so the package has to be right,” he said. “The folks at Joe Gibbs Racing were very prepared and that’s really the key…to be prepared from a manpower side and to be able to pay for it as well.

    “Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) are all about racing and per-formance. I’ve been told they already have a spot there at headquarters for the champion-ship trophy, so it is our duty as drivers and teams to go out and win that for them. It appears they have all the tools…we just have to go out and do it.”

    With the change in rules this year, one win makes a driver eligible for a coveted spot in the Chase. That means drivers who may not have been considered threats on road courses in the past are now trying to hone their talents on those tracks, realizing just how key a win would be to their championship hopes.

    “A lot of us grew up racing on short dirt ovals in the middle of the country,” said Edwards. “So when you put a road course in at the end of the season (Watkins Glen in August), some guys are road course experts and are very good, so it makes it even tougher on us because that’s one of their best opportunities to get a win.

    “A road course gives you a bunch of op-portunities to be extremely aggressive. You can drive down in the corner, move a guy out of the way, outbreak him. It makes it a more chaotic event. So everyone knowing that if you get a win, you’re in the Chase, a place like Sonoma can get pretty rough.”

    One thing is certain – Edwards’ goal is to be in contention for this year’s champion-ship, which would mean he would be per-forming his trademark celebratory backflip at least a time or two.

    “Right now that backflip is the easiest part of winning,” he said. “It was fun to do that at Sonoma last year. If you told me 10 years ago we’d win the Sprint Cup race at Sonoma and do a backflip off the car, I’d have said that was pure fantasy.

    “For me that was a blast. Hopefully, I’ll get to do another one.”

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    Nate JacobsonCarl Edwards became the 10th differ-ent race winner in as many years, and the eighth consecutive driver to claim his first Sprint Cup Series road-course victory in 2014.

    Getty ImagesCarl Edwards earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road-course victory when he took the checkers in Sonoma in 2014.

  • Vallejo Times Herald • Vacaville Reporter • Woodland Daily Democrat For tickets call 800-870-RACE or go to racesonoma.com Sunday, June 21, 2015 7

    NEW For 2015! Save Mart/Lucky Breaking Zone

    The Save Mart/Lucky Breaking Zone is your one-stop shop for rest, relaxation and interactive fun during race weekend. This all-new fan display in the main paddock will be the hub of social media activity, including a place to charge your phone, take a picture in the photo booth and share race-day memories. Fans will also enjoy Q&As with drivers and NASCAR person-alities, music and much more!

    Real.Strong.Humboldt Redwood Deck

    NEW! This exclusive club setting at Turn 2 features a 134-foot Real. Strong. Humboldt Redwood deck perched over one of the most dramatic views in racing and includes a private bar, dedicated food and beverage service.

    (Ticketed)

    NEW! Relax in the Shade at Turns 2 and 9

    Sonoma Raceway has teamed up with Humboldt Redwood Company to con-struct two new “Grille Garden” seating and shade areas where fans can relax, cool off and enjoy a bite to eat during race weekend. These new areas, featur-ing redwood arbors, are located at Turn 2, near The Real.Strong.Humboldt Redwood Deck, and above the Turn 9 Terrace on the road course.

    Sears Point TaqueriaThe Sears Point Taqueria at Turn 2

    features fresh Mexican favorites including tacos and frosty margaritas, not to mention all the meat freshly grilled on site.

    Sears Point Grill With three locations in the main paddock,

    Turn 2 and Turn 9, the Sears Point Grill features handmade burgers, locally-sourced sausages and other savory grilled items.

    Nor Cal Craft Beer Nobody makes craft beer like Northern

    California. Morris Distributing has assem-bled some of Northern California’s most popular craft beers, ales and hard cider just for you. Be sure to visit one of the many stands featuring Nor Cal’s best craft brews including Racer 5, Great White, North Coast’s Scrimshaw, Sudwerks, Fox Craft Cider and 101 North Brewery.

    Great Clips Haircuts for CharityStop by the Great Clips booth behind

    the main grandstand in the paddock area.Stylists from local Great Clips salons

    will give haircuts all weekend for a sug-gested donation of just $10. All proceeds benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.

    Ride the Ferris Wheel Looking for a great view of the road

    course? Take a ride on the ferris wheel in Turn 9 all weekend! All donations benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.

    Ticket Pit StopStop by the Ticket Pit Stop, located

    behind the main grandstand, to get an-swers to your questions, plus news about upcoming events. It’s also the site of the Speedway Children’s Charities booth where you can purchase $1 raffle tickets to win the ultimate Wine Country Getaway, which includes a two-night hotel stay at Sonoma Mission Inn and $300 hotel credit, dinner each night, wine tasting and a retro cooler filled with Sears Point items.

    Toyota Fan ZoneLocated inside of turn 10, the Toyota

    Fan Zone will provide an interactive rac-ing experience for race enthusiasts of all ages. During the weekend, fans will be able to take in breathtaking views of the track and the surrounding hills of Sonoma on Toyota’s Ferris Wheel. Included in the Fan Zone will be the Camry Pace Car that fans can enter to win at the display as well as a 2015 TRD Pro 4Runner and a Tacoma, designed specifically for the off-road enthusiast!

    Motor Sports MidwayThroughout the weekend, enjoy a

    bustling Motor Sports Midway, featuring after-market products, food, beverage and entertainment options.

    Toyota PitPassToyota’s interactive racing experi-

    ence will be onsite all weekend and features the latest Toyota vehicles along with a Cutaway NASCAR show car, ARRIS 4K Camry Theater and NASCAR Tech Garage.

    Throughout the weekend, NASCAR drivers will make appearances to interact with fans and everyone who registers will receive a Toyota Racing prize!

    Kids Club Booth Stop by the Kids Club booth to collect

    your Toyota/Save Mart 350 souvenir poster and take a picture with the official mascot of the Sonoma Raceway Kids Club, Burnin’ Bovine. He loves to see all of his Kids Club members during the race weekend! The Kids Club booth is located in the Ticket Pit Stop behind the Main Grandstand.

    CHP Designate a Sober Driver Booth

    Visit the California Highway Patrol Designate a Sober Driver Booth in the main paddock to pledge to be the designated sober driver for your group. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    Club 7 Entertainment, presented by Outback Steakhouse

    Enjoy NASCAR in style at our Club 7 trackside bar and lounge! Club 7 offers a premier hospitality experience including a BBQ lunch, entertainment presented by Outback Steakhouse, appearances by Kevin Harvick, Sam Hornish, Jr., Miss Sprint Cup and other special guests, closed-circuit TVs and more!

    Club 7 will also feature a Happy Hour concert on Saturday afternoon featur-ing Northern California country band, American Honey, playing all your favorite contemporary and traditional country hits as well as pop and classic rock.

    Jeff Gordon TributesSonoma Raceway will honor the

    King of the Road Course during his last race in Sonoma a full-time driver. Be sure to pick up a rally towel to wave on lap 24, visit the vintage No. 24 race car display in the paddock and pick up a Jeff Gordon tribute poster, which pays homage to our local hero.

    WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS

    AROUND THE TRACK

    Great Clips Fast Friday Free Shuttle to Downtown Sonoma, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

    Enjoy a FREE round-trip shuttle from the 50 Acres Campground to the Sonoma Plaza. New for this year, the larger shuttles will run extended hours and will include a stop at Cornerstone Gardens. The shuttles will depart hourly from the 50 Acres cam-pground, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., with a final departure from the Sonoma Plaza at 10 p.m. Feel free to explore the best of Sonoma’s wine country shops, wineries and restau-rants without the hassle of driving.

    Hire America’s Heroes STEM Military Career Fair, presented by PG&E, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

    Sonoma Raceway and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) have teamed up to host the Hire America’s Heroes STEM Career Fair, which will focus on matching mili-tary job seekers with opportunities in the corporate workforce. The event will feature a variety of 30-minute presenta-tions and workshops to build participant skill sets for transitioning to the job market, The career fair will target up to 40 employers and 150+ job applicants.

    Noon – Great Clips Fast Friday Sprint Cup Series Practice 3:30 p.m. - Great Clips Fast Friday Sprint Cup Series Final Practice

    Saturday – Drive For Safety Pole DayJeff Gordon Q&A, 9 a.m.

    Direct your attention to the start/fin-ish line as Sonoma Raceway’s king of the road course, Jeff Gordon, takes part in a 20-minute question and answer ses-sion with fans.

    Free Shuttle to Downtown Sonoma, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

    Enjoy a FREE round-trip shuttle from the 50 Acres Campground to the Sonoma Plaza. New for this year, the larger shut-tles will run extended hours and will include a stop at Cornerstone Gardens. The shuttles will depart hourly from the 50 Acres campground, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., with a final departure from the Sonoma Plaza at 10 p.m. Feel free to ex-plore the best of Sonoma’s wine country shops, wineries and restaurants without the hassle of driving.

    STEM Race Car Challenge, presented by Friedman’s Home Improvement, 10 a.m., Wine Country Winner’s Circle

    Check out the final round of the STEM Race Car Challenge in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle on Saturday from 10-11 a.m. as local elementary students go head-to-head in a gravity-powered car challenge.

    Drive for Safety Pole Day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, 11:15 a.m.

    NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying will consist of two elimination rounds to determine the starting grid. The first round will last 25 minutes and include all cars. The 12 cars that post the fastest single lap will advance to the final round. The final qualifying round will last 10 minutes and the fastest single lap time will determine positions 1 through 12 in descending order.

    Kids NASCAR Autograph Session, 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m.

    Kids 12 and under can attend an auto-graph session with NASCAR stars Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett and Kasey Kahne. The first 100 kids to check in at the Ticket Pit Stop (behind the Main Grandstand) before noon will receive wristbands for the autograph session.

    Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA Race 1 - 12:30 p.m.

    Carneros 200 National Anthem Performed by SergeantMegan May

    Staff Sergeant Megan May will per-form the national anthem during Carneros 200 pre-race ceremonies. SSgt. May is a vocalist with the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West, Travis Air Force Base. She also serves as one of the unit’s Outreach representatives. Originally from Bethel Park, PA, her Air Force career began in 2010.

    Carneros 200 NASCAR Pro Series West Race (64 Laps) – 2 p.m.

    Toyota Happy Hour with Live Music by American Honey, Club 7 – 4 p.m.-6 p.m.

    American Honey, a Northern California country band, will ignite Toyota Happy Hour in Club 7 with live music on Saturday night. FREE for Toyota/Save Mart 350 ticket holders. Happy hour will

    also include giveaways and games from our friends at Toyota.

    Sunday – Toyota/Save Mart 350Raceway Fun Train

    For the third consecutive year, fans can ride the train to the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The Raceway Fun Train will make stops in Sacramento, Davis or Suisun and drop off at the front gate of Sonoma Raceway.

    All aboard race fans!

    NASCAR Drivers’ Meeting inside Turn 11 – 10 a.m.

    For the second straight year, se-lect fans will be granted access to the NASCAR drivers’ meeting shortly before the green flag for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. The offer is only available to fans who purchased Sunday race tickets prior to May 31.

    Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest –10 a.m.

    For the second consecutive year, Sonoma Raceway will host a qualifying round of the Nathan’s International Hot

    Dog Eating Contest. How many hot dogs can one person eat in 10 minutes? Find out at the in the Wine Country Winner’s Circle.

    Patriot Jet Team Air Show – 10:50 a.m. (25 minutes)

    Team Chambliss - Red Bull Air Race World Championships

    Jeff Gordon Tribute Jeff Gordon is the undisputed king of

    the road course with five wins and five pole positions Sonoma, the most of any driver.

    Sonoma has always been a special place for Gordon and Sonoma Raceway has put together a special tribute for the Vallejo native, whose racing roots stem from Northern California.

    Toyota/Save Mart 350 Driver Introductions – 11:20 a.m.

    National Anthem performed by Morgan Karr

    Award-winning singer/songwriter Morgan Karr will salute our county by performing the national anthem before the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Karr, a native of Nashville, can also be seen in concert in Transcendence Theatre’s “Under the Stars” at Landmark Vineyards, Aug. 1-2.

    Anthem Flyover Provided by Naval Air Station LemooreCommand Flyover Featuring P-40N Warhawk and three P-51D Mustang fighter planesToyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race (110 laps) – noon

    Nate Jacobson

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    Getty ImagesFor the second straight year, select fans will be granted access to the NASCAR drivers’ meeting shortly before the green flag.

    Getty ImagesFor the second consecutive year, Sonoma Raceway will host a qualify-ing round of the Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

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