CaliConnection: How our California drivers fared at Infineon
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 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (June 27, 2011) – It was a day of firsts – the first road race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the first victory for Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge this year and his first career win on a road course. And as Busch took the checkered flag, the California sun in Sonoma shined bright on its native drivers, as five finished in the top-15. Below is how our Golden Staters fared in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Infineon Raceway:
No. 29 RheemTankless.com Chevrolet
2nd in points
9th PLACE FINISH: After qualifying 26th and running near the back of the pack for the majority of the day due to a wreck and various issues with his car, Harvick made a made a late-race charge and finished 9th. He remains second in points, 25 points behind first-place Carl Edwards. “It was all strategy….The car was really loose. Then we got in a little wreck and tore it up even worse. As the run would go on, we would just get so loose. The car has a lot of damage on it. A lot of credit to these guys for getting it fixed for the strategy. It was the best ninth place finish I can ever remember.”
No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet
Hometown: El Cajon
3rd in points
7th PLACE FINISH: Although he was never a contender for the win, his run enabled him to bring home a top-10 finish. Johnson gained two spots in the points standings, leaving him in the third place, 33 points behind leader Edwards. “We still had a decent car and could get up there and get a top-10. So, we’ll take it.”
No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
9th in points
2nd PLACE FINISH: Gordon and his crew missed the set-up that his car needed at the beginning of the race, but by lap 90 he began to make his move to the front and brought home a 2nd place finish. He now sits 9th in the points standings, a gain of three spots. "I've got to tell you we really missed the set up at the beginning of this race. I don't know if just the adjustments we made were that good or the track position or the track changing at the end. We were fast and I think we were faster than the leaders. That felt awesome to start there with old tires and be able to work through traffic all the way up to second, man that was amazing."
No. 43 Best Buy Ford
Hometown: Los Gatos
15th in points
13th PLACE FINISH: A 7th place start led to a promising run in the first half of the race. As the day went on, Allmendinger struggled with his car and the track, which resulted in a 13th place finish. He gained two spots in the points and now sits in 15th place. “That was crazy just like always. The car was pretty good and I think from about mid-race on we kind of got loose. Everybody was running into each other out there. I got into a couple guys and got them angry and then I had one guy dump me. I just tried to keep fighting. We are getting there. It could have been a lot worse and 13th isn’t great, but it could have been a lot worse with 20 to go.”
No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
30th in points
12th PLACE FINISH: After a disappointing qualifying spot of 29th, Gilliland fought hard all day to gain 17 spots and end the race in 12th place. He currently stands in 30th position in points. “I am really proud of our team today. (Crew Chief) Peter (Sospenzo) and the guys gave me a really great Taco Bell Ford Fusion this weekend. We had an issue with second gear toward the end of the race there, so we lost a few spots, but I had a lot of fun running up front all day. I asked the guys on the radio during the race if there was an award for passing the most cars 'cause, man, it sure seemed like I was passing cars all day.”
No. 13 GEICO Toyota
32nd in points
34th PLACE FINISH: Mears started his day in the 27th position and by the end of the race he had lost 7 spots and finished two laps down. His finish enabled him to remain in the top-35 in points (32nd).
No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge
33rd in points
18th PLACE FINISH: Hoping for a win, Gordon was involved in a heated battle with Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet. He was able to salvage his day and cross the finish line in the 18th place. Despite his troubles, he remains in the top-35 in points. "I just got wrecked by (Joey) Logano. It is what it is. We were on track for exactly what we wanted to do. We had a strong run. We lost track position, fought back, and then lost when the 20 punted us."
No. 50 Security Benefit/Thank a Teacher Today Chevrolet
45th in points
28th PLACE FINISH: Making his first appearance in the 2011 season, Said’s only goal was to bring home the checkered flag. After a mid-race charge, Said fell to the back and came home in the 28th place.
No. 60 Big Red Toyota
54th in points
42nd PLACE FINISH: Starting near the end of the pack, Skinner was never able to compete as he had to retire on lap 10 with an ignition problem.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:
Position, Driver, Points
1, CARL EDWARDS, 573
2, KEVIN HARVICK , 548
3, JIMMIE JOHNSON, 540
4, KURT BUSCH, 539
5, KYLE BUSCH, 536
6, MATT KENSETH, 521
7, DALE EARNHARDT JR., 508
8, CLINT BOWYER, 496
9, JEFF GORDON, 480
10, RYAN NEWMAN, 475
11, DENNY HAMLIN, 463
12, TONY STEWART, 460
NEXT UP: The Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola @ Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 2.
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