CaliConnection: How our California NASCAR drivers fared at Auto Club Speedway

Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have California connections, including 5-time Champion


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (March 28, 2011) – The largest crowd at Auto Club Speedway since 2006 (88,000) opted not to use their seats on the last lap of the Auto Club 400 as Californians Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson battled side-by-side into the final turn with Harvick taking the checkered flag by 0.144 seconds.

Below is how other Golden Staters fared in this past weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event:

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet    
Hometown: El Cajon  
5th in points

2nd PLACE FINISH:  Defending race winner and five-time champion Jimmie Johnson led laps 198 and 199 then was passed by Kevin Harvick on the final lap.  “It reminded me of last year in the spring race, you know.  Just didn’t hold him off that time.  Those tires made the difference.  I knew he was coming, they said he was coming.”  Johnson was able to advance 2 positions in the points. 

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet 
Hometown: Bakersfield 
9th in points

1st PLACE FINISH: By a margin of 0.144 seconds, Harvick who started in the middle of the pack in 24th, led the final lap of the Auto Club 400 to claim his first victory at Auto Club Speedway.  "You know those guys (Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson) started racing and they got side-by-side and we were able to pull up there…But I was really nervous about that last call staying out, but it all worked out in our favor and we were able to make up ground."

AJ Allmendinger  
No. 43 Best Buy Ford   
Hometown: Los Gatos  
15th in points

14th PLACE FINISH:  After starting in the 20th place, Allmendinger finished in the 14th position and gained one spot in the points standing.

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet  
Hometown: Vallejo 
16th in points    

18th PLACE FINISH:  Although Gordon struggled in the turns and contended with slow pit stops, he was able to come home with an 18th place finish, gaining 11 spots from his starting position.  Gordon climbed three spots in the points, finishing the day in the 16th spot.

David Gilliland   
No. 34 Taco Bell Ford   
Hometown: Riverside  
26th in points 

31st PLACE FINISH:  Gilliland improved his finishing spot by 6 places despite hitting the wall on lap 103.  "That was a long day.  We just never really got our Taco Bell Ford Fusion where we needed it to be.  It was too free to really get to the throttle when I needed to, and then we cut a tire in the middle of the race.  The guys did a good job working on making it better, but it was just tough with the long green-flag runs."  In addition to finishing 3 laps down, Gilliland also lost 4 spots in the points.

Robby Gordon   
No. 7 SPEED Energy /Food 4 Less Dodge 
Hometown: Orange  
32nd in points

34th PLACE FINISH:  “Just a bummer of a day for the SPEED Energy Dodge today.  We had a 15th to 20th place car most of the day and screwed up when we ran out of fuel.  You just can’t do that on a big track like Auto Club Speedway.”  Gordon salvaged his day by remaining in the top 35 in points.

Casey Mears   
No. 13 GEICO Toyota   
Hometown: Bakersfield  
33rd in points

29th PLACE FINISH:  Dropping 4 spots from his starting spot, Mears run was good enough to keep him in the Top 35 in points, leaving him in 33rd place. “Today was frustrating, but we kept fighting and salvaged a decent finish.  The nice thing is that we were able to give GEICO the opportunity to be locked into the race next week because we have worked really hard this year and put ourselves in the Top 35.  I am proud of all of these guys on this GEICO team because regardless of what happens we keep our heads and stay focused.”


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
2, RYAN NEWMAN , 178
3, KURT BUSCH, 177
4, KYLE BUSCH, 176
11, KASEY KAHNE, 157


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