CaliConnection: How our California NASCAR drivers fared at Atlanta

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 rain-delayed AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway today.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Sept. 6, 2011) – In a spectacular ten-lap battle to the finish, California natives Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet raced each other for the win.  Gordon eventually won the war and brought home his 85th career victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with three other California drivers joining Gordon in the Top 10. 

Below is how our other Golden Staters fared in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event which was postponed until today because of rain over the weekend.

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet   
Hometown: El Cajon  
1st in points

2nd PLACE FINISH: After starting 17th, Johnson quickly became a contender for the race win.  He led 29 laps and was inches from taking the race lead in the final laps from teammate and race leader Jeff Gordon.  Although he fought hard, Johnson crossed the finish line in second place, but gained one spot in the points which now leaves him as the leader in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "Man, that is what racing is all about. That was a lot of fun. I am grateful that I got to grow up racing off-road trucks and buggies because I was dead sideways those last probably 10 or 15 laps there trying to get by him. Just great hard racing.”

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 
Hometown: Vallejo  
5th in points    

1st PLACE FINISH: Gordon led the most laps (146) and took home his third victory of the year in a late-race showdown with teammate Johnson.  His finish enabled him to gain one spot in the points He now sits 5th. “We used it up there in the end and I was slipping and sliding. The track really changed a lot after that rain delay. I tell you what, that was a lot of fun racing with him (Jimmie Johnson). I was slipping and he was slipping. The throttle control was very tough there at the end. There were a couple of moments where I really thought he got us. But what an incredible victory for this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.”

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
6th in points

7th PLACE FINISH: Harvick started 21st, but rocketed to the front early in the race.  He remained in the Top 10 for the majority of the day and ended up with in 7th place. Although he brought home a great finish, Harvick lost one position in the points, leaving him in 6th place in the Sprint Cup Points Standings, 54 points behind leader Johnson.

AJ Allmendinger  
No. 43 Best Buy Ford   
Hometown: Los Gatos  
13th in points

10th PLACE FINISH:  After starting in the Top 15, Allmendinger headed to the front.  An on-track altercation with Clint Bowyer (No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet) led him to fall back.  However Allmendinger was able salvage the day with a 10th place finish. He gained one spot in the Driver standings and now sits 13th – only 11 behind 12th place Denny Hamlin (No.11 Charter Communications Toyota).  A win next week at Richmond International Raceway could propel him into a wild card spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  “I felt like we were a solid top five or top six car early in the going and we just got pounded on that restart.  I’m not sure what happened.  Clint just ran into the back of us.  I don’t know if I was spinning the tires and he was ready to go or not, but I got hooked and we got door-slammed by somebody and then from there it was just kind of a fight to get back on it.”

David Gilliland   
No. 34 A&W All American Food Ford 
Hometown: Riverside  
30th in points 

37th PLACE FINISH:  Although Gilliland qualified 36th, he ran as high as 14th until a spin on lap 177 took him behind the wall. He remains 30th in points. “We were racing for the lucky dog with the 38 (J.J. Yeley) and I was just trying to get all I could getting onto pit road.  I stayed on the race track and when I dropped down onto the apron it started to wheel-hop a little bit and it ended up breaking the driveshaft.”

Casey Mears   
No. 13 GEICO Toyota   
Hometown: Bakersfield 
31st in points

28th PLACE FINISH:  Mears started in the 38th place and gained 10 spots, ending his day in the 28th place. 

Robby Gordon   
No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge  
Hometown: Orange  
34th in points

39th PLACE FINISH:  A rear gear issue ended Gordon’s day on lap 34.

Mike Skinner   
No. 36 Collective Soul/Golden Corral Chevrolet    
Hometown: Susanville  
56th in points

27th PLACE FINISH:  After starting 35th as a substitute driver for the ailing Dave Blaney, Skinner led two laps and gained eight spots to cross the finish line in 27th place.

Scott Speed   
No. 46 Property Masters Ford  
Hometown: Manteca   
65th in points

32nd PLACE FINISH:  After qualifying 30th, Speed was only able to complete 310 laps before experiencing an electrical issue that ended his day.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
2, KYLE BUSCH, 852
7, KURT BUSCH, 789


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