CALIFORNIACONNECTION: How our Cali NASCAR drivers fared at Atlanta

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 Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, September 5.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (September 7, 2010) – With a strong third-place finish in the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night., Jimmie Johnson was able to move up in the driver standings and became the third California driver to clinch a spot in the coveted 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

33rd PLACE FINISH:  Harvick did not have the type of night he hoped as the points leader.  On lap 253 he had trouble entering the pits when he couldn’t make the entrance. As he went back around under the green flag he blew his left front tire.  That in turn caused significant damage to his fender.  The team tried on numerous pit stops to fix the fender but ultimately on lap-309 Harvick brought his car in to the garage for the night. “We made tremendous gains on our Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet after practice, and our car was crazy fast.  Over the course of a green-flag run, it would just get better and better, and we definitely had a top-five car, and probably had a race-contending car.  I just got too aggressive trying to get on pit road, and that ruined our night.  But, all in all, it was a good night and we are looking forward to Richmond.”


Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 DuPont/Jeff Gordon Foundation Chevrolet 
Hometown: Vallejo 
2nd (-219)

13th PLACE FINISH:  Gordon was racing a car with its paint scheme designed by his daughter, Ella.  He started from the 18th position and was able to move up and finish in 13th.  The closest he made it to running in the lead was when he was up to fourth on lap 202.  Gordon was able to stay second in driver standings.  “The pit crew was on it tonight and I thought we might be able to battle for the victory after driving up into the top five.  But we just had one run where I could barely hang on to the car.  We lost a ton of positions that run - it was 'wrecking' loose. But we were able to salvage a decent finish out of it."

 

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
Hometown: El Cajon
7th (-338)

3rd PLACE FINISH:  Johnson clinched his position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a strong finish at Atlanta.  He started seventh and was in the top-10 most of the race.  He even led eight laps which gave him a crucial five bonus points.  He ended the Emory Healthcare 500 in third place.  “It was really a good night. There were times where we lost the handle and were able to adjust the car and get it back—something that we’ve had struggles with on the mile-and-a-half tracks the last couple months.  So all-in-all, it was a solid day.  We did a good job in the pits, good job on the track.  Glad to get a good run on a track that has been tough on us.  This track is hard to get it right.  The KOBALT Tools Chevrolet was awesome.”


AJ Allmendinger  
No. 43 Insignia HDTV Ford  
Hometown: Los Gatos   
22nd (-907)

18th PLACE FINISH:  Starting from the 16th position, Allmendinger was able to maintain the consistency and finish at Atlanta in 18th.  For his effort he picked up 109 points to stay in 22nd place in the standings.


Scott Speed   
No. 82 Red Bull Toyota  
Hometown: Manteca    
27th (-1327)

34th PLACE FINISH:  Speed’s day ended early with engine problems on lap 264.  He gained 61 points in Atlanta.


David Gilliland   
No. 37 Taco Bell Ford   
Hometown: Riverside  
33rd (-1927)

20th PLACE FINISH:  Gilliland finished 20th and on the lead lap after starting towards the back in 36th.  He picked up 103 points for his effort.  “I’m really proud of the job this team did this weekend, given that this was our first race together. We started with a pretty good car, and Peter [crew chief Peter Sospenzo] and the team made some good adjustments to help us run pretty fast and pick up a bunch of positions.  We had good pit stops and good pit strategy to help us finish on the lead lap, so all-in-all it was a good night for the Taco Bell Ford team.”


Robby Gordon        
Hometown: Orange     
35th (-2049)

Gordon did not compete in Sunday’s event.


Casey Mears   
No. 13 GEICO Toyota   
Hometown: Bakersfield  
44th (-2800)

26th PLACE FINISH:  Starting from the last position of 43rd, Mears had a great effort on the weekend moving all the way up to finish 26th and only one lap behind race winner Tony Stewart.
 

Boris Said        
Hometown: Carlsbad  
47th (-3137)

Said did not compete in Sunday’s event.

 

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

Pos, Driver, Points, Ldr
1, Kevin Harvick, 3585, 0 
2, Jeff Gordon,3366, -219
3, Kyle Busch, 3325, -260
4, Tony Stewart, 3302, -283
5, Carl Edwards, 3288, -297
6, Jeff Burton, 3261, -324
7, Jimmie Johnson, 3247, -338
8, Kurt Busch, 3228, -357
9, Matt Kenseth, 3225, -360
10, Denny Hamlin, 3147, -438
11, Greg Biffle, 3110, -475 
12, Clint Bowyer, 3066, -519

 

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