California Connection: How our California NASCAR Drivers Fared at Richmond

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (April 29, 2013) – Rocketing ahead of the field on a green-white-checkered finish, Kevin Harvick powered his No. 29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet SS to victory in the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Having pitted for fresh tires under the final caution of the race on lap 394, Harvick charged from the seventh position to take his 20th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win. It marked his third win on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval, and first of the 2013 season. He gained two positions in the point standings and now ranks ninth overall.

Below is how our California NASCAR drivers fared in Richmond, Virginia.

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

12th PLACE FINISH:    The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS improved from 26th to 12th within the first 75 laps, clocking times that rivaled those of the leaders. Thirteen laps later, Johnson had cracked the top 10. Johnson continued to move through the field, ticking off three more spots by Lap 105. The No. 48 team turned in a solid four-tire pit stop during caution on Lap 110 to give Johnson another two spots, and he lined up fourth for the ensuing restart. Johnson maintained his position inside the top 10 as the race unfolded, laying down fast laps and benefiting from swift pit stops to hold steady on the raucous .75-mile short track. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus made a last-minute decision to pit with 92 laps to go under caution for right-side tires and fuel. Johnson was the first car off pit road and he lined up fifth behind cars that opted not to pit. Almost 20 laps later, Johnson was running ninth—a bit further back in the pack after getting shuffled around some on the restart – when he was involved in a pin. Nearby, Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet SS became loose and made contact with Johnson. The collision cost Johnson track position, but didn’t appear to injure No. 48 Chevrolet SS.  Back on the track, Johnson was running 16th when another spin happened on Lap 333. This time, the No. 48 team wasn’t as fortunate and sustained damage as teammate Kasey Kahne also was collected in the incident.  Johnson returned to the track and crossed the finish line 12th.

Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Bell Helicopter Chevrolet
CaliConnection: Bakersfield
9th in points

1st PLACE FINISH:  "That was a heck of a first lap of the restart. I thought that the outside line might have the advantage because it had a couple of guys with new tires in the second row, and lined up on the outside. But the two tires - these cars drive a lot off the left rear - and we only took two tires, and they didn't get that great of restart but my car launched, and I was able to drive it in the first corner and hope for the best down there. I figured four, eight, 12...how many ever tires that were on the outside of me would be better than none. It all worked out, and here we are."

Jeff Gordon
No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet  
CaliConnection: Vallejo
14th in points

11th PLACE FINISH:  Jeff Gordon seemed to have a lot going for him at the beginning of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS had led the final practice on Friday and had qualified third for the 400-lap event. When the green flag first dropped on Saturday, Gordon immediately climbed into the second position. But within the first several circuits, he reported a handling condition that the No. 24 team would spend the majority of the night chasing. The predominant theme for Gordon seemed to be a loose-handling condition in the corners, offset by a tight-handling one in the middle. The combination, Gordon told crew chief Alan Gustafson, made it difficult for him to effectively brake around the .75-mile short track. The duo continued to work on the handling, and with 80 laps to go, Gordon lined up 13th for the restart. Six laps later, he successfully maneuvered his No. 24 Chevy SS through a spin on the track, climbing into 10th before pitting for four tires and fuel during the ensuing caution period. He restarted 13th behind several cars that either opted not to pit or stopped for two tires only.  But within four laps, the yellow flag was waved again, and Gordon lined up ninth for this restart.  Gordon and Gustafson opted to pit during a late-race caution period and lined up 14th for the green-white-checkered flag restart with fresh tires. Gordon improved to finished 11th.

Casey Mears
No. 13 GEICO Ford
CaliConnection: Bakersfield
25th in points

30th PLACE FINISH:  “We had a tough night, but the guys on this GEICO crew never quit and we finally got the car to where we were running fast lap times,” Mears said.  “We were good last week in Kansas and next week in Talladega we’ll be up front again.  It’s human nature to focus on the negative, but the reality is that we’ve been really fast this year and a couple of bad runs doesn’t change that.  And it doesn’t change the hard work these guys have put in and how much we’ve improved from a year ago.”  He continued, “We’ve always done well at Talladega, so we’re excited to get our #13 GEICO Ford Fusion back there and have some fun.  We led four times there in October, so we’re focused on being at the front again this year.”

AJ Allmendinger 
No. 51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
CaliConnection: Los Gatos
34th in points

14th PLACE FINISH:    After Saturday’s NSCS race in Richmond, Allmendinger tweeted, “Hard fought day by my guys @stevo511 @PhoenixRacing51 proud of their effort as always. Not sure why we struggled so bad on last green run. Great call by CC Nick Harrison to stay out on GWC finish. Did all I could with old tires. Wish I could have gotten the team a better finish.”

David Gilliland 
No. 38 Long John Silver’s  Ford
CaliConnection: Riverside
33rd in points

27th PLACE FINISH: Starting 37th, David Gilliland was able to move up 10 positions to finish in 27th place.

Scott Speed
CaliConnection: Manteca
40th in points

Speed did not compete in Saturday’s race.

Josh Wise
No. 35 MDS Transport Ford
CaliConnection: Riverside
50th in points

28th PLACE FINISH:  Josh Wise finished the race two laps down, coming in 28th place.

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points

1, JIMMIE JOHNSON, 343
2, CARL EDWARDS, 300
3, KASEY KAHNE, 297
4, DALE EARNHARDT, JR., 297
5, CLINT BOWYER, 290
6, BRAD KESELOWSKI, 284
7, KYLE BUSCH, 278
8, GREG BIFFLE, 272
9, KEVIN HARVICK, 271
10, PAUL MENARD, 271
11, ARIC ALMIROLA, 258
12, JAMIE McMURRAY, 245

NEXT NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACE: Sunday, May 5 @ Talladega, Alabama.

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SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (April 29, 2013) – The IZOD IndyCar Series took the weekend off as it prepares for the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday, May 5.  Race coverage on the NBC Sports Network.

Charlie Kimball
No.  83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda
CaliConnection: Camarillo

11th in points

Oriol Servia
No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet
CaliConnection: Santa Monica

14th in points

JR Hildebrand
No. 4 National Guard
Panther Racing Chevrolet
CaliConnection: Sausalito

15th in points

AJ Allmendinger 
No. 2 IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet 
CaliConnection: Los Gatos

26th in points

IZOD IndyCar Series Driver Leaders:

Position, Driver, Points
1, HELIO CASTRONEVES, 99
2, TAKUMA SATO, 93
3, SCOTT DIXON, 89
4, MARCO ANDRETTI, 87
5, JUSTIN WILSON, 81
6, RYAN HUNTER-REAY, 73
7, GRAHAM RAHAL, 66
8, WILL POWER, 62
9, SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, 62
10, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, 61

NEXT IZOD INDYCAR SERIES RACE: Sunday, May 5 @ Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil

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