Cali Connection: How our California NASCAR drivers fared at Bristol

Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have California connections, including 5-time Champion Jimmie Johnson who hails from El Cajon. Below is a roundup of how each Californian driver fared at the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City at Bristol Motor Speedway.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (March 21, 2011) -- It was a wild Sunday in Bristol at the Jeff Byrd 500.  Below is how the Golden State drivers competed in this past weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event:

Jimmie Johnson 
No. 48 Lowe’s / KOBALT Tools Chevrolet 
Hometown: El Cajon  
7th in points

3rd PLACE FINISH:  Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson led 164 of 500 laps - to no avail.  He had the lead when caution flew on Lap 428 for David Gilliland’s accident off Turn 4. During the pit stop under caution, however, Johnson’s rear tire changer slipped while running from the right to the left side of the car and the No. 48 was fourth off pit road. "I think we had a slip on the rear tire changer coming around the back of the car. Amazing, one little slip on pit road, what it equals on the racetrack.” Johnson could improve only one position the rest of the way.

Kevin Harvick  
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
15th in points

6th PLACE FINISH: Harvick started the day 15th, led 37 laps and finished the afternoon in 6th position.  "These guys are doing a great job and I really think it shows the maturity of the team and the things that we go through and the way we've been ablest come back."

AJ Allmendinger  
No. 43 Best Buy Ford   
Hometown: Los Gatos  
16th in points

31st PLACE FINISH:  Although he started near the back of the pack in 28th, Allmendinger was able to pick up several spots in the opening laps of the Jeff Byrd 500.  After getting caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 25, he was able to salvage the day and come home with a 31st place finish. "I just want to thank all my guys this weekend for busting their butts to try and make the Best Buy Ford better. They deserve more than that."

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet  
Hometown: Vallejo  
19th in points    

14th PLACE FINISH:  Gordon finished 14th at Bristol and was never a serious factor for the lead, spending most of the race between 11th-15th place and remains 19th in the series standings.  "It was definitely not our day so we were frustrated at times and fighting hard but I felt like we worked well together as a team to get through kind of a rough day and come out here with a decent finish."

David Gilliland   
No. 34 TMone/Taco Bell Ford  
Hometown: Riverside  
22nd in points 

27th PLACE FINISH:  Despite leading 4 laps early in the race, Gilliland was only able to improve two spots from the drop of the green flag, crossing the finish line in the 27th place. "Today just wasn't our day.  We got ourselves up front early in the race by staying out under the caution, but then we got bit by running out of fuel.  It was still early enough in the race for us to battle our way back, but then we cut a couple of tires.  After that, we actually didn't have our TMone/Taco Bell Ford running too bad.  I think we ran our fastest lap toward the end of the race.  But we were just too far back at that point to gain too much.  We'll look for a comeback in California."

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

39th PLACE FINISH:  After being involved in an accident in Turn 2 on lap 130, Gordon was unable to return to the race. He finished in 39th.

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

37th PLACE FINISH:  Dropping 6 spots from his starting spot, Mears run was good enough to keep him in the Top 35 in points, leaving him in 33rd place.


Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
1, KURT BUSCH, 150
6, KYLE BUSCH, 133
11, MARK MARTIN, 123
12, KASEY KAHNE, 122


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