NASCAR: A lap at Sonoma with A.J. Allmendinger (VIDEO)

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A.J. Allmendinger has not made a Sprint Cup start at Sonoma Raceway since the 2012 season, when he finished ninth for Team Penske.

Perhaps with that in mind, he and his JTG Daugherty Racing team made their way there earlier this month for a two-day test session.

The 1.99-mile circuit is a treacherous one but when asked what he thought was its toughest challenge, the former open-wheel standout didn’t choose a specific section of track.

Instead, he noted the importance of saving the rear tires as the car makes its way out of the corners.

“It is real easy to see a guy make a mistake or just try to be aggressive, and you quickly burn your rear tires off, and then you are done the rest of the stint,” said Allmendinger, who was 18th and 15th respectively in yesterday’s two Sprint Cup practices at Sonoma.

“I think that is what everybody works on here, and that is what they focus on is trying to get the forward drive. If you don’t have that, you aren’t going to win the race, so it is the most critical part of this race track to me.”

In the clip above, you’ll see what Allmendinger must deal with this weekend as he makes his way around the technically demanding Sonoma layout.

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 will take place later this afternoon at 1:40 p.m. ET. For Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray’s thoughts on how the new knock-out qualifying format will look in its road course debut, click here.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”