CaliConnection: How our California NASCAR drivers fared at Richmond

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 Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway over the weekend.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Sept. 12, 2011) – There was no stopping Bakersfield, Calif. native Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, as he brought home his fourth victory of the 2011 season at Richmond International Raceway, positioning himself second as the “Chase” for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship begins at Chicagoland Speedway next weekend.

Below is how our other Golden Staters fared in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
2nd in points

1st PLACE FINISH: Harvick started seventh and made his way to the front, never looking back.  A stellar pit stop under the final caution enabled him to restart first and led him to bring home his 18th career victory. This victory enabled Harvick to jump to 2nd in the points (tied with leader Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) with just ten races to go in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. “The pit crew did a great job on pit road just getting us off. You know last week we had a good car, this week we had a good car and were able to capitalize there at the end.”

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 
Hometown: Vallejo  
3rd in points    

3rd PLACE FINISH: After ignoring a call to come to pit road, Gordon lost a lap but raced his way back to contend for the win.  After a hard-fought run, Gordon finished third.  He now sits third in the points, poised to make a run for his fifth  championship. “I made a really bad call by not coming to pit road when I was called to come to pit road and that about cost us a lap. To come back from that and be up there to take the lead with 20 to go and have a shot at winning that thing was awesome.”

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s Power of Pride Chevrolet  
Hometown: El Cajon  
6th in points

31st PLACE FINISH: After a promising third place starting position, Johnson looked like he was well on his way to victory.  A tangle with Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge, on lap 187 and again on lap 247 took him out of contention for a win.   Johnson now sits 6th in the Chase, nine points behind leader Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota. “Yeah, shoot; you get run over going in the corner and he (Kurt Busch) did some damage to our car and then at that point, we were out of the race.”

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

11th PLACE FINISH:  With a top ten starting spot and hope for a win, Allmendinger fell to the rear late in the race, but was able to rebound with an 11th place finish. 

David Gilliland   
No. 34 Honoring Our Heroes Ford 
Hometown: Riverside  
30th in points 

27th PLACE FINISH:  After qualifying 36th, Gilliland was involved in an accident on lap 28, but at the end of the day he was able to gain nine spots from where he started, coming home in the 27th spot. “We got caught up in that early wreck and had damage to the right front.  Something must’ve gotten bent.  And it just made the car tight the rest of the night.”

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

17th PLACE FINISH:  Mears started in 30th, was caught up in a wreck on lap nine and still managed to finish in the Top 20, ending his day in17th place.

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

37th PLACE FINISH:  After an incident with Scott Speed, driver of the No. 46 T&T Performance Ford, early in the race, Gordon was forced to end his day on lap 51. “Well they wrecked in front of me and I was basically stopped.  I don’t know what Scott Speed was doing but he just ran us over and killed our race car for no reason.” 

Mike Skinner   
No. 60 Big Red Toyota        
Hometown: Susanville  
57th in points

Mike Skinner failed to qualify for the Wonderful Pistachios 400.

Scott Speed   
No. 46 T&T Performance Ford  
Hometown: Manteca   
66th in points

43rd PLACE FINISH:  After qualifying 41st, Speed was only able to complete seven laps before going behind the wall due to an accident.



NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
1, KYLE BUSCH, 2012
3, JEFF GORDON, 2009
7, KURT BUSCH, 2003
8, RYAN NEWMAN, 2003
12, DENNY HAMLIN, 2000


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