CaliConnection: How our California NASCAR Drivers Fared at Talladega

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2012) – Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ecoboost / National Breast Cancer Foundation Ford) survived a massive crash on the last turn of the final lap to win Sunday's Good Sam's Roadside Assistance 500 -- the fourth race in the championship Chase -- at Talladega Superspeedway.  In what is known as the "wild card" event in the 10-race Chase, it lived up to expectations when at least 20 drivers, including several title contenders, were involved in the "big one" heading into turn four. Chase driver Tony Stewart was leading on the last lap but spun around when he made contact with Michael Waltrip, triggering the melee.

Below is how our California drivers fared this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson 
No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet   
CaliConnection: El Cajon 
2nd in points

17th PLACE FINISH:  "We knew it (the crash) was going to happen. We did a very good job of managing things all day long. It was just getting really tight. I think we were probably four-wide going into (turn) three. I could see some tire smoke off the guys in front of me, and then everybody just merged together and we were all in a big wad at that point. Fortunately my car I could still drive to the finish so I passed a couple of guys that were sitting there on the bottom trying to get going themselves."

Jeff Gordon  
No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet   
CaliConnection: Vallejo 
6th in points    

2nd PLACE FINISH:  "That was the craziest, craziest finish I've ever experienced here at Talladega.  We were being very aggressive. We came to the tri-oval to take the white flag, I really have no idea how we all made it to the white flag because it was three, four wide. Cars were moving everywhere.  I got hit by the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and somehow that turned me down on the apron and I just put it back to the floor and drove by every car, and I came out of that second behind the No. 17 car (Matt Kenseth, race winner). That is definitely what we needed to do. That is like a win. I am sure we survived it. We'll see what we can do with it from here on out."

Kevin Harvick  
No. 29 Budwesier Chevrolet  
CaliConnection: Bakersfield 
10th in points

11th PLACE FINISH: “We ran out (of fuel) on the backstretch. We were out. We were going to throw these cars away anyhow. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things here. This was one.”

David Gilliland 
No. 38 PeanutPatchBoiled/Peanuts/MargaretHolmes Ford   
CaliConnection: Riverside 
28th in points 

15th PLACE FINISH:  Starting 32nd, Gilliland was able to move up to finish the day in 15th. 

Casey Mears  
No. 13 GEICO Ford   
CaliConnection: Bakersfield 
30th in points

26th PLACE FINISH:  Starting 19th on the day, Mears was caught up in the final-lap melee.

Josh Wise  
No. 26 MDS Transport Ford  
CaliConnection: Riverside  
39th in points

43rd PLACE FINISH:  Overheating issued put Wise behind the wall at lap five.

Scott Speed       
CaliConnection: Manteca  
44th in points

Speed did not compete in the weekend’s event.

Mike Skinner       
CaliConnection: Susanville 
53rd in points

Skinner did not compete in the weekend’s event.

Jason Leffler       
CaliConnection: Long Beach 
70th in points

Leffler did not compete in the weekend’s event.

Cole Whitt 
No. 33 LittleJoesAutos.com Chevrolet 
CaliConnection: Alpine 
72nd in points

40th PLACE FINISH:  White started the day 42nd and was caught up in an accident 16 laps into the race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points Behind
1, BRAD KESELOWSKI
2, JIMMIE JOHNSON, -14
3, DENNY HAMLIN, -23
4, KASEY KAHNE, -36
5, CLINT BOWYER, -40  
6, JEFF GORDON, -42
7, TONY STEWART, -46  
8, MARTIN TRUEX, JR., -48
9, GREG BIFFLE, -49
10, KEVIN HARVICK, -49
11, DALE EARNHARDT, JR., -51 
12, MATT KENSETH, -62

NEXT NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACE: Saturday, Oct. 13 @ Charlotte

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