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Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Richard Petty (left), team owner for Kasey Kahne (right), winner of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, partake in the spirit of wine country
in Victory Lane...
Kahne Holds Off Stewart For Win
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
SONOMA, Calif.—How strange was it for Kasey Kahne to win a road-course race?
The driver of the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge had to ask his crew chief for directions to victory lane after taking the checkered flag in a green-white-checkered finish in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
Kahne held off road-course ace Tony Stewart through a succession of four late-race double-file restarts, the final time after Scott Speed’s spin on Lap 108 caused the seventh caution of the day. After starting from the rear because of an engine change, Marcos Ambrose chased the top two finishers to the line to claim third place, matching the best result of his Sprint Cup Series career.
“Awesome—not too bad for a dirt-tracker from Washington!” Kenny Francis, Kahne’s crew chief, radioed after his driver crossed the stripe on Lap 113, three laps beyond the scheduled distance at the 1.99-mile road course.
“Unreal,” replied Kahne, who gave owner Richard Petty his first victory since John Andretti in 1999. “Gosh, we had to hold him (Stewart) off for a while. We won a road-course race! Oh, my God, I can’t believe this.”
Jimmie Johnson recovered from a pit-road speeding penalty to finish fourth. Denny Hamlin, who led 33 laps—second only to Kahne’s 37—came home fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Elliott Sadler completed the top 10.
The victory was Kahne’s first of the season and the 10th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. Before Sunday’s race, his highest finish on a road course was 14th at Watkins Glen.
“It was crazy,” Kahne said, after following Francis’ directions to victory lane. “Stewart’s as good as they get out there, and I had to restart beside him about four times. Cautions kept coming out, and we were having to hold him off. He was giving me tons of room ... which is normal Stewart. The guy’s an awesome racer.”
After Kahne took the lead from Speed on a restart on Lap 80, he stayed out front the rest of the way. Stewart’s attempts to pressure Kahne into a mistake failed to produce the desired result.
“The second-to-last run there (when Stewart was leading Kahne), we were looking in our mirror and we were fast, but Kasey was matching us lap for lap,” Stewart said. “Then when he came out in front of us after that last set of pit stops, I was like, ‘Oh, we might be in trouble here.’
“We could run about the same pace. I just couldn’t get (to him). I was a little too loose in the right-handers, and Kasey never made a mistake. The kid did an awesome job and just ran a perfect race.”
Ambrose, who suffered a blown engine in Saturday morning’s practice session, got to the front through a combination of pit strategy and talent.
“It was just a great recovery for our team,” said the Australian driver, who duplicated last year’s third-place finish at Watkins Glen, where he also started at the back of the field. “We kept the car fairly straight. Up there, when you’re in that rare air with those drivers, you don’t want to slip up when you’re around them—when you’ve got the chance to run well.
“We would have liked to have won the race, and I feel like I disadvantaged (us) Saturday, blowing up that motor, but it feels like a win.”
Notes: Stewart expanded his lead in the Cup standings to 84 points over second-place Gordon. ... Montoya moved up two spots into 12th, the last position eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kahne also gained two places to 13th and trails Montoya by three points. ... Jeff Burton finished 34th and dropped from 12th to 15th. ... Stewart finished second for a season-high fourth time. ... A late-race accident dropped Dale Earnhardt Jr. to 26th at the finish.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast - Race Recap click here
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
The Date: Sunday, June 21
The Track: Infineon Raceway (1.99-mile, road course)
The Time: 5 p.m. AT
The Distance: 218.9 miles (350 kilometers)/112 laps
TV: TNT, 4:30 p.m. AT
Radio: PRN and Sirius XM Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Kasey Kahne
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule (local track time): Friday—Practice, Noon-1:30 p.m. Qualifying, 3:35 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 9:30-10:15 a.m. and 10:50-11:50 a.m. (All times PT/local.)
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
TV Broadcast Times*
Practice: Friday June 19 at 4 p.m./SPEED
Qualifying Time Trials: Friday June 19 at 7:30 p.m./SPEED
Final Practice: Saturday June 20 at 2:30 p.m./SPEED
RaceDay, Pre-Race Show: Sunday June 21 at 2:30 p.m./SPEED
FOX Pre-Race Show: Sunday June 21 at 5 p.m./TNT & TSN
Race: Sunday June 21 at 6 p.m./TNT & TSN
*Times shown are AT - one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Brian Vickers won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with a lap of 76.475
seconds, 93.678 mph.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is his ninth pole in 188 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is his fourth pole and eighth top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his first pole in five races at Infineon Raceway.
- Vickers' best previous start at Infineon Raceway
was 18th. His best previous road race start was 17th at Watkins Glen International.
- This is the first time in 2009 that Toyotas have qualified one-two-three. The only other time the
manufacturer claimed the top three qualifying positions was at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 7,
- Kyle Busch (second) posted his 12th top-10 start of 2009 and his first in five races at Infineon
- Marcos Ambrose (third) posted his second top-10 start at Infineon Raceway. It is his third in 16 races
- Joey Logano (12th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Scott Speed, Tom Hubert, Chris Cook and Brian Simo.
Marcus Ambrose posted the third fastest lap during time trials Friday - but will start from the rear of the field Sunday
after blowing the motor in his racecar during Saturday practice...
Saturday Final Practice Speed Chart click here
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- Timing Is Perfect For Montoya To Return To The Roads...The timing may be right for the perfect storm for Juan Pablo Montoya. On the outside looking in at NASCAR’s top 12 contenders throughout the 2009 season, Montoya has gained to the point where he is only 43 points away from a berth in NASCAR’s elite top 12.
Now, with only 11 races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Montoya will be in his element when he gets behind the wheel of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 42 Target Chevrolet in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.
Montoya was one of the world’s premier road racers prior to joining the stock car ranks. He won seven Formula One races, the 1999 Champ Car title and 11 open-wheel races, including the 2000 Indianapolis 500, prior to making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut for Chip Ganassi in the 2006 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award in 2007, along with winning at Infineon Raceway.
After final finishes of 20th and 25th in his first two NASCAR seasons, Montoya is getting the hang of driving the 3,400-pound machines. He’s coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes, placing eighth at Pocono and sixth in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan, moving to 14th in the series point standings.
Now, he’s looking at a solid run at Infineon to make his move with only 11 races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. That stretch also includes the road course at Watkins Glen, along with races at the four tracks where he’s had top-10 finishes this season.
Shakeup In The Top 12 Sees Martin Rise, Reutimann Stumble
Mark Martin’s (No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet) last-lap victory at Michigan vaulted him up the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. After starting last Sunday in 13th place – one point from the top 12 – Martin leapfrogged all the way up to eighth with 10 races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) was the loser in the mix, falling from 11th to 13th in the standings after finishing 19th. Now, he trails Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) by three points in the battle for a share in racing’s elite dozen. Juan Pablo Montoya is now 14th, 43 points out of 12th, while Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) is also in striking distance, 91 points back.
Once again, four past champions continue to pace the standings.
Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) and Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) continue to hold the top-four positions, respectively, separated by 128 points. Stewart is a two-time (2002 and ‘05) champ, Gordon is a four-time titlist (1995, ‘97-98, 2001), Johnson is a three-timer (2006-08) and Busch has one title (2004).
- Sprint Cup Regulars Holding Their Own Against Road Course ‘Specialists’...With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visiting California wine country for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, one can expect to see several specialists competing at Infineon Raceway for the first of two road-course events this season.
Sunday’s race will be no exception. Veteran road racers Boris Said, Ron Fellows, Max Papis, Patrick Carpentier and Brian Simo are expected to be among the competitors suiting up to tackle the 12-turn, 1.99-mile circuit.
However, one can also expect to see the top stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series holding their own.
The days when a road-racing specialist could come in and dominate a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event has passed.
Jeff Gordon leads the list of NASCAR’s all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winners on road courses with nine victories – four at Watkins Glen International and five at Infineon Raceway.
Tony Stewart is tied with four other drivers – all oval track aces – at second with six triumphs. Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace also have five road- course triumphs.
While popular American Formula One driver Dan Gurney scored five victories at Riverside back in the 1960s, the last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series non-regular to win in the series was Mark Donohue, at Riverside in 1973.
In recent years, many drivers with road-racing roots have turned their attention to NASCAR – with outstanding results.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Speed (No. 82 Red Bull Toyota) raced in Formula One. Robby Gordon (No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Toyota) and AJ Allmendinger (No. 44 Best Buy Dodge) were winners in Champ Car, while current Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Max Papis (No. 13 GEICO Toyota) was a Grand-Am Rolex Series champion.
- Fellows, Carpentier, Said Are Looking For Chance To Shine On Infineon Road Circuit...Ron Fellows came closest of the road course “specialists” to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in recent years, taking back-to-back second-place finishes at Watkins Glen International in 1999 and 2004. He also qualified on the outside of the front row for the 1998 race at The Glen, in addition to winning four races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (three at Watkins Glen and one at Montreal) and two in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the New York circuit.
This weekend, Fellows will drive Phoenix Racing’s No. 09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming and Resorts Chevrolet for the first of two races this season.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Fellows said. “We’ve got a Hendrick (Motorsports) Motor, and we’ll find out about the chassis. I like Infineon, I had one of my best chances for my first Cup win there back when I drove for DEI (Dale Earnhardt, Inc.).”
Canadian veteran Patrick Carpentier will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, replacing Michael Waltrip this weekend in the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
Sports car veteran Boris Said hopes to make his first start of the season in the No. 08 Carter/Simo Racing Ford. Said attempted to make the 2009 Daytona 500. The Carlsbad, Calif. driver has 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts, with his best finish fifth at Watkins Glen in 2005.
Following Sunday’s checkered flag, race fans are invited to participate in the fourth annual Track Walk at Infineon Raceway. An added bonus is a massive scavenger hunt for blue-and-gold specially-marked lug nuts that will be hidden on the road course. The people who find those lug nuts will be treated to great prizes, including a big-screen TV, Save Mart Supermarkets gift certificate and 2010 Toyota/Save Mart 350 race tickets.
Fans are also encouraged to make a voluntary contribution to Speedway Children's Charities, the charitable arm of Infineon Raceway. The charity benefits youth groups in Sonoma County and has distributed more than $3 million since 2002.
Ken Stabler, legendary quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, will be the Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Stabler guided the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory in 1977.
Infineon Raceway will honor four officers from the Oakland Police Department who were killed in the line of duty prior to Sunday’s race. Four motorcycles from the department will lead the 43-car field around the circuit prior to the start of the race. Davina Kelly from the department will sing the national anthem.
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check local listings or host before making plans.
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