CALIFORNIACONNECTION: How our Cali NASCAR drivers fared at Bristol

Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have California connections, including four-time consecutive Champion Jimmie Johnson who hails from El Cajon. Below is a roundup of how each Californian fared in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday, August 21


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (August 23, 2010) – In the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night Jeff Gordon finished just out of the top-10 in 11th, and he was the only California driver to finish on the lead lap.  The finish enabled him to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Below are how the Golden State drivers competed in this past weekend's Sprint Cup event:

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet 
Hometown: Bakersfield   

1st in points
14th PLACE FINISH:  Points leader Harvick started from the 28th position and moved all the way up to finish in the 14th spot.  He struggled with his setup eventually needing to take out some spring rubber on lap 255.  This helped but the chassis was still loose and he finished the race a lap down to winner Kyle Busch. “We made tremendous gains on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet tonight.  Our car was terrible at the beginning of the race, but we didn’t give up, and we found some speed there at the end.  We just needed to unload a little better off the truck.”

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet  
Hometown: Vallejo  
2nd (-279)   

11th PLACE FINISH:  Gordon was the only California driver able to finish on the lead lap at Bristol.  Starting from the 26th position Gordon made it all the way up to finish just outside the top-10 in 11th.  He was able to gain 14 valuable points on leader Harvick and clinch his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.  “I'm glad we were able to make it into the Chase, but I would have preferred to have been a little bit stronger during the race. We've struggled here since the track was reconfigured, but we seem to make gains each and every race and we're getting closer at Bristol.  We've got some good tracks coming up and, now that we've got our spot in the 'Chase' secured, maybe we can get a win at Atlanta or Richmond.”


Jimmie Johnson 
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet  
Hometown: El Cajon  
9th (-444)

35th PLACE FINISH:  Johnson led 175 laps of the first 261.  His lead ended when on a lap 261 restart he and the third-place car of Juan Pablo Montoya were involved in a crash on the backstretch.  After that Johnson spent time in the garage getting his car repaired.   He returned to the track on lap 327.  "It was a restart so everybody is out there running hard and we came down the back … but I think I left him enough room on the outside lane there. And we were on the straightaway there for a little bit and all the sudden I got hooked with force, it wasn't like we bumped and banged and I squeezed him.  But we were on the straightaway and everything was fine and then around I went so I don’t think it was something intentional and I don’t think he was trying to dump me but I will just have to look at things and see.  I really felt like I left him the room."

AJ Allmendinger 
No. 43 Valvoline Ford   
Hometown: Los Gatos   
22nd (-952) 

31st PLACE FINISH:  Allmendinger had a nice starting position in 10th, but ended the day in 31st, 12 laps off the leader.  He picked up 70 points to stay in 22nd place in the standings.

Scott Speed  
No. 82 Red Bull Toyota  
Hometown: Manteca    
27th (-1324)

33rd PLACE FINISH:  Speed completed 486 of the 500 laps to end the day in 33rd place after starting in 23rd.  He picked up 64 points in the driver standings.

David Gilliland        
Hometown: Riverside  
33rd (-1966)

Gilliland did not compete in Saturday’s event.

Robby Gordon   
No. 07 SpeedFactory.TV Toyota 
Hometown: Orange     
34th (-1985)

40th PLACE FINISH:  Gordon was only able to complete 50 laps before electrical problems ended his day.

Casey Mears   
No. 13 GEICO Toyota   
Hometown: Bakersfield  
43rd (-2821)

39th PLACE FINISH:  Mears started in 43rd and finished in 39th after electrical problems ended his day on lap 58.

Boris Said        
Hometown: Carlsbad  
47th (-3073)

Said did not compete in Saturday’s event.

Current top-12 contenders for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs are:

Pos, Driver, Points, Ldr
1, Kevin Harvick, 3521, 0 
2, Jeff Gordon, 3242, -279
3, Kyle Busch, 3170, -351
4, Carl Edwards, 3113, -408
5, Denny Hamlin, 3108, -413
6, Tony Stewart, 3107, -414
7, Jeff Burton, 3101, -420
8, Matt Kenseth, 3095, -426 
9, Jimmie Johnson, 3077, -444
10, Kurt Busch, 3073, -448
11, Greg Biffle, 3055, -466 
12, Clint Bowyer, 2920, -601

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