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Sunday, June 22
Kyle Busch Wins Fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Of Season
SONOMA, CA. (June 22, 2008) - Kyle Busch is definitely the real deal. He won NASCAR's Sprint Cup race here Sunday, completely dominating the race from shortly before the halfway point to the wild, caution-filled finish.
Three late-race caution flags bunched the field after young Busch had literally left all challengers in the California dust on a sunny California Sunday.
Busch (#18, pictured below) led 75 laps en route his first road course victory, coming from 30th starting position to the front.
It was a typically wild road course race, especially at the end. Kevin Harvick, running near the front as he had most of the afternoon with three laps remaining, prompted a three-car spin in the horseshoe turn when his brakes locked up. He slid sideways, collecting Tony Stewart and Ron Fellows in the process.
When a green, white, checkered restart got the field going again for the final time, Busch pulled away from runner-up David Gilliland and third-place finisher Jeff Gordon, who struggled all afternoon with an ill-handling car.
Clint Bowyer was fourth and Casey Mears fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya, who was accidentally spun by Australian Marcos Ambrose, raced back into contention and finished sixth. Ambrose, unfortunately, suffered a mechanical failure while running second and fell out of the race. Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Stewart roared from 19th after his accident to finish 11th.
Two-time champion Jimmie Johnson, one of the early-race leaders, finished 16th after an accident put him back in the field.
This was one of those twisting, turning, up and down days for NASCAR's "turning left" stars who are not accustomed to right-hand turns and hills. Several teams brought in road course ringers to increase their chances for a win. Boris Said, Fellows, Max Pappis, Ambrose and Scott Pruett brought impressive sports car racing resume's to Sunday's 110-lap, high speed party.
Bobby Labonte lost his grip on the second lap in the hairpin turn and spun off the track, dropping from fourth to 30th position.
Johnson passed pole winner Kasey Kahne for the lead on the sixth lap. Several laps later, Kurt Busch passed Kahne, as did Robby and Jeff Gordon. Ambrose was holding on to fifth place in the Wood Brothers Ford.
At 20 laps, it was Johnson, Kurt Busch, Robby Gordon, Carl Edwards, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Milwaukee Saturday night, Ambrose, Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, Newman, defending race champion Montoya and Biffle.
Two laps later, Edwards charged into second place. Biffle was the first of the frontrunners to pit on lap 25, hoping to make only one additional pit stop as opposed to more. Harvick and teammate Burton also stopped early.
David Ragan brought out a caution a few laps after the early pit stops when he rammed a stack of safety tires on the inside of the hairpin turn.
When racing resumed, Biffle had the lead but spun in the second turn and dropped way back in the field. Kyle Busch took the lead with Montoya and McMurray in tow. Johnson had dropped back to 10th spot. Kurt Busch got an unwelcome bump from Scott Pruett which cost Busch valuable time. Just a few laps later, Denny Hamlin spun in the hairpin dropping him back in the field.
At the 55-lap, halfway point of the race, it was Kyle Busch leading, Montoya second, McMurray third, followed by Stewart, David Gilliland, Edwards, Harvick, Robby Gordon and Elliott Sadler. Ambrose had dropped to 11th.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Point Standings click here
Race Recap Slideshow click here
Winner's Interview click here
The Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
The Place: Infineon Raceway
The Track: 1.99-mile road course
The Distance: 350.24 km/110 laps
TV: TNT & TSN, 4:30 p.m. (AT)
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya
2007 Polesitter: Jamie McMurray
Pre-Race Schedule (local track time): Friday—Practice, 12:30-2 p.m.; Qualifying, 4:05 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 9:30 -10:15 a.m.; Final Practice, 10:50 –11:50 a.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Qualifying: Friday, June 20 (SPEED at 8 p.m.)
Practice: Saturday, June 21 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 21 (SPEED at 2:30 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 22 (SPEED at 2:30 p.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, June 22 (TNT & TSN at 4:30 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, June 22 (TNT & TSN at 6 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Qualifying Notes & Starting Lineup
Kasey Kahne won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with a lap of 77.740
seconds, 92.153 mph.
Toyota/Save Mart 350 Starting Lineup click here
- This is his 16th pole in 160 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races; his first on a road course.
- This is his second pole and 10th top-10 start in 2008.
- This is Kahne’s third top-10 start in five races at Infineon Raceway.
- Jimmie Johnson (second) posted his 13th top-10 start of 2008 and his second in seven Infineon races.
- Kurt Busch (third) posted his fifth top-10 start of 2008 and his sixth in eight races at Infineon.
- Marcos Ambrose (seventh) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time and qualified
for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Ambrose would have attempted to qualify at Watkins
Glen in 2007, but not get the opportunity and did not make the field when qualifying was canceled due to
- Sam Hornish Jr. (16th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Scott Pruett (27th) qualified for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since Watkins Glen in 2006.
- Max Papis (28th) qualified for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
- Brian Simo (43rd) qualified for his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and his first since Watkins
Glen in 2006.
- Driver's that did not qualify include: JJ Yeley, Scott Riggs, Dario Franchitti, and Brandon Ash.
- Montoya Returns To Defend First NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win...The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to wine country this weekend — Sonoma, California for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
While all the drivers are preparing for the first of two road-course races on the schedule, Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) and new crew chief Brian Pattie will be intently focused on defending Montoya’s only series win.
Montoya ended his rookie season with one win, at Infineon, three top-five and six top-10 finishes putting him 20th in the final series driver standings in 2007.
This season hasn’t gone quite as he had planned only with one top-five finish (Talladega). He currently is 22nd in the standings and has had to deal with two crew chief changes thus far. The team started the season with Donnie Wingo, then Jimmy Elledge, before settling with Pattie.
This weekend though, look for Montoya to be up front. NASCAR Pre-Race Loop Data Statistics for Infineon Raceway has Montoya near the top of several key categories: Driver Rating (115.3) is ranked first in the series, Average Running Position (10.588). “Last year I felt a ton of pressure heading into Infineon because everyone expected to me to run well and win because of my background,” Montoya said. “This year I don’t feel any pressure. Our goal is to run well, and if we have a shot at the win obviously we are going to take it.”
- Long Time Coming: Earnhardt Jr. Revels In Victory...Victory at last!
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Chevrolet) had made 76 starts and waited two years, one month and nine days before he was able to pull into Victory Lane again for his 18th career win, last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
This season Earnhardt has been building momentum all the way up to his win at Michigan. He has posted seven top-five finishes, and is tied with Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) for the most top-10 finishes with 11.
He currently is third in the series standings, 84 points behind leader Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&Ms Toyota), and 52 points behind Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) in second. This win is even more significant if Earnhardt makes the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup because of the ‘seeding’ process and the 10 bonus points for wins. To date, it would put him fifth in the Chase standings rather than 12th.
"I missed winning," said Earnhardt. “We got ten bonus points going into the Chase, we never had that, even when we made the Chase.”
Earnhardt hopes to take this momentum to Infineon where he has struggled. His best finish there is 11th (twice) in 2003, ’04. He finished 13th last season after posting his career-best starting spot (third) at the track.
This also will be Earnhardt’s first road-course start with his new team, Hendrick Motorsports.
- Outside Looking In 13th - 20th: Kenseth Making Moves In The Standings...Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) has been climbing the standings the past five weeks, posting five consecutive top 10s. That’s moved him from 34th to 14th, making up 190 points, just 14 points behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet).
This is the second time Kenseth has mounted a mid-season comeback to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In 2005, Kenseth was 24th in the standings after Pocono (the 14th race on the schedule) before posting seven top 10s to reach the top 10 in points, the cutoff for the Chase in ‘05, by the 25th race of the season. Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) are the only two drivers to make all four previous Chases.
Kenseth isn’t alone. Both Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota) gained a spot in the standings after last Sunday’s event at Michigan, now 15th and 16th, respectively. Truex is 94 points behind Bowyer and Vickers is 97 points back.
- On The Bubble: Owners’ Points Continue To Shuffle...As the halfway point on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule approaches, the teams on the bubble of the owners’ point standings are doing all they can to stay in the top 35.
After Michigan, Michael Waltrip Racing has two cars right on the top-35 bubble. The No. 55 driven by Michael Waltrip (34th) dropped two spots after a 23rd-place finish at Michigan, and the No. 00 driven by Michael McDowell is 35th, just seven points ahead of the No. 66 owned by Joe Custer and driven by Scott Riggs (36th).
The No. 77 owned by Roger Penske and driven by Sam Hornish Jr. posted a 22nd at Michigan to move to 33rd in owner points.
Another owner moving up this week in the owners’ standings is Diestrich Mateschitz, owner of the No. 84 car, which jumped three spots to 37th - 110 points behind 35th after AJ Allmendinger finished 19th at Michigan.
- Road Course Specialists: Not All Roads Lead To Victory Lane...A “road course ringer” hasn’t won a road course race in over 30 years. The last was Mark Donohue at Riverside International Raceway in 1973. But that isn’t stopping six drivers this weekend in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
There isn’t another “road-course specialist” whose likeness is more famous than Boris Said’s (No. 60 Slurpee/No Fear Energy Ford). His six-foot, four-inch frame and unique hairstyle can be seen from across the garage. And he has been able to contend with NASCAR’s best at Infineon Raceway.
Said has made eight starts at Infineon and has posted four top 10s and one pole (2003).
Said has had the most success of the ‘Road Course Specialists’, but he is not the only added competition this weekend: Max Papis (No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet), Terry Labonte (No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge), Brian Simo (No. 34 TBA Chevrolet), Ron Fellows (No. 01 Principal Financial Group/DEI Chevrolet) and Brandon Ash (No. 02 Sprinter Trucking Dodge) are entered in the race.
- Road Course All-Time Wins & Poles Leader...Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) heads to Infineon Raceway ready to
add to his already impressive resume this weekend. Gordon is the most proficient NASCAR driver (active or inactive) on road
courses. He has a total of nine road-course wins (five at Infineon and four at Watkins Glen International). Jeff Gordon's Statistics
at Infineon...Wins: Five (series leader); Top Fives: Nine; Top Tens: 11; Poles: Five (series leader); Top 10 Starts: 13 of 15 total starts;
Driver Rating: 102.1; Average Run Position: 13.739; Laps In The Top 15: 59.4 %...
- Series Debut: Marcos Ambrose...The Australian born driver Marcos Ambrose (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford) will make his series debut this weekend driving for Wood Brothers Racing.
Ambrose has competed in the NASCAR Nationwide and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Ambrose has posted two top-five and nine top-10 finishes and one pole in 51 starts. He also started 22 NASCAR Craftsman Truck races with two top-five and four top-10 finishes and one pole.
Before making his way to Ambrose competed in and won the 1999 British Formula Ford championship, and in 2001, earned rookie of the year honors in the V8 Supercar Series. He backed up the Rookie of the Year Award with two consecutive titles (2003-04) in V8 Supercar winning 27 races.
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