CONTRA COSTA TIMES -- Cardinale, a San Francisco native known for his tireless work ethic and his devotion to his family and friends, started at Sonoma Raceway in 1998 and later became the track’s vice president of communications and marketing. For his efforts in promoting the raceway, Cardinale was named NASCAR Track Public Relations Representative of the Year for 2008. “I can’t tell you how many drivers, reporters, crew chiefs and public relations people would pull me aside and tell me we had the best in the industry,” said Steve Page, president and general manager of Sonoma Raceway, of Cardinale. “If you hear it once, that's one thing. When everybody says it, it’s probably true. John was one of a kind.” Before joining the raceway, Cardinale, a graduate of San Francisco State, wrote for the Ledger Dispatch in Antioch in the early 1990s and later became the bureau chief at the Valley Times in Pleasanton.