CaliConnection: How our California NASCAR Drivers Fared at Talladega

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 California driver fared at the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (April 18, 2011) – It was a four-wide finish at Talladega Superspeedway when California native Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, went from seventh to first on the last lap, edging Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, at the checkered flag by the slimmest of margins – 0.002 seconds, tying the closest margin of victory (Darlington on 3/16/2003) since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993.

Five Cali drivers finished in the top-11 in yesterday’s Aaron’s 499.  Below is how our Golden Staters fared in this past weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event:

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet       
Hometown: El Cajon  
2nd in points

1st PLACE FINISH: By a margin of 0.002 seconds, Johnson hooked-up with his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, and raced to his first victory of the 2011 season and the 54th of his career. Johnson gained two spots in the points standings and trails leader Carl Edwards, No. 99 Aflac Ford,  by a mere five points. “I had a good run into three but nowhere to go with it and then by the time we got back to the tri-oval, we had another big run going and those guys were worried about side-drafting each other towards the top of the track and left that bottom wide open for us and we rallied our way through there."

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
4th in points

5th PLACE FINISH: After a disappointing starting spot of 38th, Harvick rallied to lead nine laps, finish second and gain five spots in the point standings. "It was a good day for our Budweiser Chevrolet. All you can ask for at these type of places is a chance to win and today we thought we had the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) pushed to a win when they all got three and four wide, you know, as the second car you have the wonderful job of pushing and that's all you can do because there is nowhere to go. So, just pushed him as hard as I could and we came up a little bit short."

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger/AARP Chevrolet 
Hometown: Vallejo  
13th in points    

3rd PLACE FINISH:  Despite starting on the pole and leading at the white flag, Gordon was unable to hold off his teammate and ended the day in 3rd. Gordon was able to gain one spot in the points and is 11 points out of the top-10.  “Yeah, you know, you can’t always control what position you are in. I mean we took the lead coming to the white flag and it was just a little bit too early but we had the momentum and we got the pass done and we just had to ride it out from that point on.”

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

11th PLACE FINISH:  After running near the front of the field, Allmendinger was involved in a wreck on lap 140.  His crew was able to repair his car and help him recover to an 11th place finish. Despite a solid finish, Allmendinger lost two spots in the points standings.

David Gilliland   
No. 34 Taco Bell Ford   
Hometown: Riverside  
29th in points 

9th PLACE FINISH:  After starting in the rear of the field, Gilliland gained 30 spots and raced his way to a top-10 finish. “We’ve had some bad luck lately and we needed a good run to pump our team back up.  I’m really proud of the guys.  They had great pit stops.  We had to replace a fan during the race and it just worked out well at the end.” 

Robby Gordon   
No. 7 Fast Five / SPEED Energy Dodge 
Hometown: Orange  
31st in points

20th PLACE FINISH:  Starting near the end of the pack did not detour Gordon from fighting his way toward the front of the field.  He ended his day by gaining 22 spots, leaving him in the top-35 in points.  “We needed another Dodge to run with at the end of the day.  With Brad (Keselowski) going out early, that was one less Dodge and I could never get to Kurt (Busch).  A top-20 for the Fast Five Dodge, it was a decent run for us and we’ll take it, but it’s not really where we wanted to be.”

Casey Mears   
No. 13 GEICO Toyota    
Hometown: Bakersfield 
32nd in points

22nd PLACE FINISH:  Gaining eighteen spots from his starting spot, Mears led one lap and ended the day in 22nd.   His finish enabled him to remain in the top-35 in points.

Mike Skinner   
No. 60 Toyota    
Hometown: Susanville  
47th in points

Failed to qualify.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points

5, KURT BUSCH, 267
6, KYLE BUSCH, 257
11, PAUL MENARD, 242


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