Sunday, Sept. 2
Jimmie Johnson does a victory lap after winning the Sharp AQUOS 500...
Johnson Caps Homecoming with California Win
FONTANA, CA. (September 2, 2007) -- Jimmie Johnson capped a California homecoming by winning the 500-mile NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at California Speedway Sunday night.
Johnson, who spent the better part of last week in his home state, captured his fifth win of the season in a race that provided plenty of action. While in California, he hosted a charity golf tournament, was inducted into his high school Hall of Fame and capped the fast-paced week with a victory at his home track. The win was Johnson's second at California.
Trailing Johnson was Carl Edwards, last week's Bristol winner, and Kyle Busch, who looked like he had the car to beat in the first half of the race before the sun went down. Jeff Burton was fourth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who raced hard all day -- and night -- was fifth.
Johnson, one of the fittest drivers on the circuit, survived one of the hottest events in NASCAR history. The temperature at the start of the race was close to 110 degrees and was still in the 90's at the finish.
Rounding out the top 10 were Matt Kenseth, Earnhardt teammate Martin Truex, Jr., Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Bobby Labonte.
Earnhardt's finish cut the points distance from 13th to 12th down to 128 points with Kevin Harvick holding the bubble position going into next week's 26th race at Richmond International Raceway. The top 12 drivers in points after Richmond qualify for The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. The top eight drivers are already locked into the championship chase.
Eleven caution periods, a record-tying number for this event, kept things close at the two-mile track. The 11th caution damaged cars driven by Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, and David Reutimann, a rookie who ran in the top 10 much of the last half of the event. Several other cars were involved, including that of Ricky Rudd, who was transported to a local hospital for x-rays. Rudd's start at California was the 900th of his career, second only to Richard Petty's 1,185 starts.
The Busch brothers led most of the early laps with young Kyle keeping his Chevrolet ahead of all challengers most of the time.
Michael Waltrip's' hard-luck season continued when a right front tire exploded after contact with Rudd and caved the fender in on the tire. Waltrip, trying to ride out the tire rub after 38 laps, hastily exited his Toyota when it burst into flames. The blown tire shattered oil lines which created a fire when the oil spattered on the exhaust headers.
Five caution flags slowed the pace in the first quarter of the race. As expected, drivers already in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship, came to the front to join front-row starters Kurt Busch and Johnson, including Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Gordon, Earnhardt, and Earnhardt's' teammate Martin Truex, Jr.
Truex and Earnhardt beat Kyle Busch out of the pits on a restart at 81 laps but Busch went back in front right after the green flag waved. Burton moved into third spot. Earnhardt passed Busch back a couple of laps later and left no doubt he would not settle for anything less than a win on this hot, steaming Southern California night.
Robby Gordon brought out the sixth caution of the night when he lost control and spun out, riding the outside wall backwards through the tri-oval. Clint Bowyer's car received some minor damage in the Gordon accident.
Ryan Newman, one of the drivers desperately trying to get into the top 12 for The Chase, spun on Lap 94 to bring out the seventh caution of the race. Just a few laps after a restart, J.J. Yeley also spun bringing out another caution period.
At the 125-lap halfway point, with the sun setting and the track cooling, Johnson's car shot past Kyle Busch for the lead.
Check the Event Stats section below for compete race results and point standings...
Practice: Friday, August 31 (SPEED at 3:30 p.m./AT, 2:30 p.m./ET)
Qualifying: Friday, August 31 (SPEED at 7 p.m./AT, 6 p.m./ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, September 1 (SPEED at 9 p.m./AT, 8 p.m./ET)
RaceDay: Sunday, September 2 (SPEED at 7 p.m./AT, 6 p.m./ET)
Countdown to Green: Sunday, September 2 (ESPN & TSN-HD at 8 p.m./AT, 7 p.m./ET)
Race: Sunday, September 2 (ESPN & TSN-HD at 9 p.m./AT, 8 p.m./ET)
- Jimmie Johnson won the Sharp AQUOS 500, his 28th victory in 208 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is his Series-leading fifth victory and 15th top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is his second victory and sixth top-10 finish in 10 races at California Speedway.
- Carl Edwards (second) posted 11th top-10 in 2007 and his sixth in seven California races.
- Kyle Busch (third) posted 14th top-10 finish in 2007 and his fifth in seven races at California.
- Jeff Gordon continues to lead the 2007 point standings. He has led the point standings since Bristol and
is now 317 points ahead of Tony Stewart.
- Gordon, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and
Kyle Busch have all clinched a berth in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
- Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. only have to start at Richmond to clinch a Chase berth.
- Kevin Harvick leads Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 128 points for the 12th position. Kurt Busch in 11th is 141
markers ahead of Earnhardt. Harvick can clinch by finishing 32nd or better at Richmond – regardless of
what Earnhardt does. For Busch a 36th or better finish will clinch a Chase position
Event Stats PDF files unless otherwise noted
Green Flag Fast Facts
- Kurt Busch won the Bud Pole for the Sharp AQUOS 500 with a lap of 39.474 seconds, 182.399 mph.
- This is Busch’s 10th Bud Pole in 245 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his first Bud Pole and ninth top-10 start in 2007. His most recent Bud Pole was Martinsville in October
- This is Busch’s third Bud Pole and sixth top-10 start in 11 races at California Speedway. All of his top-10
starts at California have been fourth or better.
- Jimmie Johnson posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 39.475 seconds, 182.394 mph. It is
his 16th top-10 start in 2007 – one behind Series leader Denny Hamlin.
- Kasey Kahne (third) posted his 14th top-10 start in 2007 and his sixth in eight California races.
- Brian Vickers (17th) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- AJ Allmendinger (18th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify for this event include: Scott Riggs, Ward Burton, and Dale Jarrett.
The Race: Sharp AQUOS 500
The Place: California Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 2
The Time: 8 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN, 7 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2-mile oval
The Distance: 500 miles, 250 laps
The Purse: $6,097,134
2006 Winner: Kasey Kahne
2006 Pole: Kurt Busch
Pre-Race Schedule (local/PT time): Friday—Practice, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying—3:10 p.m., Saturday—Practice, 4-4:45 p.m. and 5:10-6:10 p.m.
Keys to Winning...
California Speedway is a grueling 2-mile track that takes a toll on engines. The track offers a lot of the same characteristics as Michigan, but this race has an additional 100 miles.
Green Flag Notes...
- Engines – Engine tuners may need to be a bit on the conservative side this weekend. The track has a history of engine troubles.
- Pit Strategy – Crew chiefs must be aware of track position and fuel mileage. The race can be won or lost by a crew chief’s decision of when to pit and what adjustments to make.
- Closers – Teams must put themselves in position to make a move in the closing stages of the race.
- Stevie Wonder will sing a new tune this Sunday at California Speedway. The 25-time Grammy Award winner is the Grand Marshal for the Sharp AQUOS 500 and will give the “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” command.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have a talent the likes of Stevie Wonder serving as our Grand Marshal,” said California Speedway President Gillian Zucker. “Stevie is one of the most influential icons in the world of music who literally has millions of fans across the globe.”
- Seven drivers hailing from the “Golden State” are expected to participate in Sunday’s Sharp AQUOS 500. All seven are full-time competitors in the series – the most from any state. Virginia and North Carolina are tied for second-most with five.
The seven drivers are AJ Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota), David Gilliland (No. 38 M&M’s Ford), Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon (No. 7 Jim Beam Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Pennzoil Platinum Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. take a break during triple-digit temps Friday at Fontana; Jr. will start seventh
on the starting grid - while Kurt Busch, his rival for the coveted 12th spot in the Chase starts Sunday's race from the pole...
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.
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