CaliConnection: How Our California NASCAR Drivers Fared at Phoenix

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 Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Nov. 14, 2011) – With 13 laps to go, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, took the lead and then the checkered flag, ending his two-year winless streak at Phoenix International Raceway.

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

Kevin Harvick   
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet  
Hometown: Bakersfield 
3rd in points

19th PLACE FINISH: Harvick started 27th and worked his way up to the Top-15, but battled a tight racecar.  He eventually crossed the finish line in the 19th position.  Harvick remains third in points, but was mathematically eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. "It was a tough day for the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team. We didn't quite know what to expect with the new surface and the weather this weekend. We took some gambles today and it didn't work out in the end.”


Jimmie Johnson  
No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet  
Hometown: El Cajon  
5th in points

14th PLACE FINISH: After qualifying 16th, Johnson ran mid-pack for the majority of the race due to a loose racecar. He salvaged the day with a 14th place finish. Johnson gained one spot in the points, but his title hopes came to an end as he was mathematically eliminated from the Chase. "We were really, really far off. We kind of had that in practice and throughout different points of the weekend. Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the car balanced right.”


Jeff Gordon   
No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet   
Hometown: Vallejo  
11th in points    

32nd PLACE FINISH: Gordon qualified 23rd and ran as high as the Top-10, but a brake issue ended his hopes for a victory. He crossed the finish line in 32nd place. Gordon lost three spots in the standings and now sits 11th, but is no longer in the hunt for the championship. “I had brakes, I just didn’t’ have enough to go fast. Every time I tried a little faster and use a little more brakes, then all of a sudden the pedal would start going to the floor and then I’d just have to back off and cool them back down.”


AJ Allmendinger 
No. 43 WIX Filters Ford  
Hometown: Los Gatos  
16th in points

6th PLACE FINISH: After starting on the front row, Allmendinger fought hard all day to remain up front, but poor pit stops took him out of contention for the win. He was still able to come home with a Top-10 finish. “Sixth is okay, but I feel like we deserved better. We have to work on our pit stops. Thanks to the No. 6 (UPS Ford) guys, our Ford teammates coming over and pitting the last two stops. That was a big difference.”


David Gilliland   
No. 34 Aloft Hotels Ford  
Hometown: Riverside  
30th in points 

31st PLACE FINISH: Gilliland started the race in 42nd and was only able to improve his beginning position by 11 spots due to an ill-handling racecar.  He crossed the finish line in 31st place. "That was a tough race.  Starting from the back of the pack, we knew we had to have a pretty good car to be able to move up at this place.  But we had some issues with the suspension.  The car was bouncing and we were just adjusting on the shocks and stuff all day.”


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

26th PLACE FINISH:  Mears qualified 38th and drove hard to improve his position.  He took the checkered flag in the 26th spot.


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

35th PLACE FINISH:  Robby Gordon qualified 20th and was never able to gain momentum.  On lap 221 he was involved in a solo spin and finished in 35th. “We struggled to pass.  I think everybody struggles to pass and I drove down onto the apron and soon as I got back up to the main groove, it got loose on me.”


Mike Skinner   
No. 37 MaxQ Motorsports Ford 
Hometown: Susanville  
58th in points

42nd PLACE FINISH: After starting 36th, Skinner was forced to end his day on lap 25 when he encountered a brake issue.


Scott Speed   
No. 46 Green Stuff Absorbent Ford 
Hometown: Manteca   
68th in points

39th PLACE FINISH: Speed started the day in 24th, but went behind the wall on lap 60 due to an electrical issue.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
1, CARL EDWARDS, 2359
2, TONY STEWART, 2356
3, KEVIN HARVICK , 2308
4, BRAD KESELOWSKI, 2294
5, JIMMIE JOHNSON, 2291
6, MATT KENSETH, 2289
7, DALE EARNHARDT, JR, 2257
8, KURT BUSCH, 2252
9, RYAN NEWMAN, 2252
10, DENNY HAMLIN, 2249
11, JEFF GORDON, 2247
12, KYLE BUSCH, 2224


NEXT RACE: Sunday, Nov. 20 – Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway


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