By Jeff Lepper
For the second time this season, the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) competed at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California for the USTCC's seventh round. The teams had raced at Infineon at this season's opener, when it was called Sears Point on a temporary course, during the $50 million dollar renovation of the track. This was the first race for the USTCC on the newly configured full road course.
This was also the deciding race for all of the categories of the USTCC. Taking his fourth win of the year, second straight race win, and the season's driver's championship was Gary Hutto in his Global Motorsport/Hutto Motorsports/Intrax BMW 328i.
The USTCC teams would have two qualifying sessions, one taking place on Saturday, the other Sunday. A new format meant that the number one qualifier on Saturday would be guaranteed a front-row starting spot.
Leading Saturday's qualifying was Hutto in his BMW. He was followed within half a second by Thomas Lepper's H&R Springs/Impact Engineering Honda Accord. This was an excellent showing for the Honda teams. Lepper was followed by USTCC returning competitor Neil Vanni in his Hopkins Honda Civic.
Sunday's qualifying session produced the same results with all drivers becoming much faster, and Gary Sheehan in his Subaru of America/StopTech/Serious Auto WRX, taking over the third spot from Vanni. Since Hutto was not contested for top time of the day, he earned the pole position, with Lepper completing the front row and making this the first time in a long time that a Honda was starting in second position.