CaliConnection: How our Cali NASCAR Drivers fared at Darlington
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 Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (May 9, 2011) – While many drivers earned their Darlington Stripes by taking the fastest way around the track right up against the outside wall, Darlington Raceway proved to be “Too Tough to Tame” for some of our California NASCAR drivers. Regan Smith of Cato, N.Y., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet took home his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. Below is how our Golden Staters fared in Saturday’s Showtime Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event:
No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
Hometown: El Cajon
2nd in points
15th PLACE FINISH: Although Johnson spun on laps 84 and 221 and received a late-race pit road penalty; he was able to fight back and bring home a top-15 finish. Johnson remains number two in the points standings and trails leader Carl Edwards, No. 99 Aflac Ford, by 23 points. “Well it obviously wasn’t the night we were looking for,” said Johnson. “It seemed like every time we’d get ahead we’d do something to put ourselves right back where we were. The Kobalt Tools Chevrolet was good. We just need to put ourselves in better positions so when we have good runs like we did at different times tonight, we can capitalize on them.”
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet
5th in points
17th PLACE FINISH: Harvick was poised to have a great run after leading twice for a total of 47 laps, but an incident on lap 365 with Kyle Busch, No. 18 Wrigley Doublemint Toyota, ended his hopes for a win. “Obviously we were racing hard and doing what we had to do there at the end and things happen.”
No. 43 Best Buy Ford
Hometown: Los Gatos
11th in points
20th PLACE FINISH: After a promising 7th place starting position, Allmendinger struggled with his car all race long and ended the night in 20th. He remains in the 11th place in points, a mere 8 points out of the top-10.
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger/AARP Chevrolet
17th in points
12thPLACE FINISH: Gordon started the night in the 5th position and stayed in the top-10 for most of the race. On lap 350 he collected a Darlington stripe of his own, but rallied back to finish in the 12th spot (the highest finish of the race for a California driver). Although Gordon came home with a top-15 finish, he lost one position in the points.
No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
30th in points
32nd PLACE FINISH: After starting in the rear of the field, Gilliland gained 5 positions to bring home a 32nd place finish, and remained 30th in points.
No. 13 GEICO Toyota
32nd in points
30th PLACE FINISH: Mears started his day in the 32nd position and at the end of the race he had led one lap and gained two spots. His finish enabled him to remain in the top-35 in points.
No. 7 Fast Five / SPEED Energy Dodge
33rd in points
37th PLACE FINISH: Starting near the end of the pack did not detour Gordon from trying to fight his way toward the front of the field, but unfortunately a brake issue left him in 37th place. He ended his day by gaining five positions, leaving him in the top-35 in points.
No. 60 Big Red Toyota
48th in points
40th PLACE FINISH: Skinner qualified in the 34th position, but due to a brake issue he finished the race in the 40th spot, 371 laps down.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:
Position, Driver, Points
1, CARL EDWARDS, 378
2, JIMMIE JOHNSON, 355
3, KYLE BUSCH, 339
4, DALE EARNHARDT JR, 331
5, KEVIN HARVICK , 328
6, RYAN NEWMAN, 317
7, TONY STEWART, 313
8, KURT BUSCH, 306
9, CLINT BOWYER, 297
10, MATT KENSETH, 295
11, A.J. ALLMENDINGER, 287
12, GREG BIFFLE, 286
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