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 Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Oct. 24, 2011) – Instead of pushing his teammate Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, to a victory, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 100 years Chevrolet, passed Burton on the final lap and took home his first victory of the year at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.

Below is how our Golden Staters fared on Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
5th in points

32nd PLACE FINISH: After leading 13 laps, Harvick was involved in an accident with 85 laps to go.  He eventually went behind the wall for repairs, but was able to rejoin the race and ended the day in 32nd place.  Harvick lost three spots in the points and is now fifth, 26 behind leader Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford. “We wanted to be in the front. We thought that was the safer place to be in case the thing went green. I thought I was around a pretty good group of cars there. I don't know what happened. It is just one of those deals.”

Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 mylowes Chevrolet   
Hometown: El Cajon  
7th in points

26th PLACE FINISH: Johnson and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Paint the 88/National Guard Chevrolet ran in the back of the pack for the majority of the race, waiting to make their move.  On the last restart, overheating issues stopped Johnson from making it to the front.  He finished 26th, but gained one spot in the points.  Johnson now sits seventh, 50 behind leader Edwards. "We planned our strategy like we had hoped to. And on that last restart at the end; we had some issues with my car overheating. There’s not a lot of time to get organized and we lost our momentum there and got to the outside and kind of stalled out up on the top and finished far worse than we had hoped to.”

Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet  
Hometown: Vallejo  
10th in points    

27th PLACE FINISH: Gordon qualified 5th, but was taken out of contention for the victory when he lost his drafting partner Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet. He salvaged the day by gaining one spot in the points and is now 10th in the standings. “We lost Mark (Martin) as our partner in that last wreck. We had to make a decision whether to keep our good track position and work with somebody around us and we made that decision to do that. Unfortunately it cost us and we fell way back by not having Mark.”

AJ Allmendinger  
No. 43 Best Buy Ford   
Hometown: Los Gatos  
16th in points

31st PLACE FINISH: After starting 24th, Allmendinger worked his way up to second place, but a spin on lap 103 and a blown tire on lap 120 ended his hopes for a victory.  He crossed the finish line in 31st place.

David Gilliland   
No. 34 World Hunger Relief Ford 
Hometown: Riverside  
30th in points 

22nd PLACE FINISH: Gilliland started the race in 40th and drove to the front.  He was able to avoid any incidents on the track and eventually came home in 22nd. "I was hoping for a better finish than 22nd.  We certainly had the car for it, but we got shuffled back at the end there and we just didn't have enough time to advance as much as we could've if there were a few more laps in the race."

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

17th PLACE FINISH:  Mears qualified 42nd and remained in the Top-10 for the majority of the race.  He ended the day in the 17th place, the highest finish of all California drivers.

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

37th PLACE FINISH:  After startling last, Gordon led 10 laps and was a serious contender for the win until he encountered a rear gear issue.  He was forced to park his car on lap 175 and finished 37th. “What a bummer.  I thought this might be the day that we get this SPEED Energy Dodge in victory lane.  We had a great car.  We ended up having a problem with the rear gear.  It may have happened when we lost the rear bumper cover and that could have caused a weird vacuum under the car.”

Scott Speed   
No. 46 Ford  
Hometown: Manteca   
67th in points

Speed failed to qualify for the Good Sam Club 500.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
6, KYLE BUSCH, 2197
8, KURT BUSCH, 2185
10, JEFF GORDON, 2155
11, DENNY HAMLIN, 2153
12, RYAN NEWMAN, 2149

NEXT RACE: Sunday, Oct. 30 – Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway


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