Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway ultimately went to Stewart-Haas driver, Ryan Newman, but many of the California Cup contingent had notable experiences. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick came in as ones to watch. Robby Gordon was hoping to break into the top-35. AJ Allmendinger and Scott Speed would have great qualifying efforts.
Johnson (El Cajon) is seen as a threat for virtually every race, and by midway through the first visit to PIR in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the No. 48 had taken the point. Despite a final practice spin [see slideshow for pictures], Johnson would lead the most laps in the race and have a great restart on the final green flag for a third place finish, sandwiched between HMS teammates, Jeff Gordon in second and Mark Martin in fourth.
Harvick (Bakersfield) had a solid race to back up his Nationwide effort the previous night with a 13th place finish as he topped the trio of California drivers rounding out the top 15.
Robby Gordon (Orange) needed to maintain a top-15 finish in order to move into the 35th position in the points standings. Because of the troubles of Travis Kvapil and a 14th place finish, Gordon went from being seven points back from the important points cut off to two points to the good.
Allmendinger (Los Gatos) started the night on the pole and was looking at a top five finish going into the last restart. Martin had trouble on the restart, which forced the No. 43 to check up. The result was that Allmendinger lost ten spots to those who could take advantage of the hiccup.
After stating on the outside of row one, Speed (Manteca) finished 21st, while David Gilliland (Riverside) finished five laps down in 32nd.
For more information on Southern California Motorsports, check out:
- Kevn Harvick has strong run at PIR despite Kyle Busch dramas
- Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100 features Southern California drivers as leaders
- NHRA and NASCAR meet at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Janelle Jalbert is a fan of a variety of racing formats and equally enjoys the history of the sport. Janelle grew up in an auto mechanic’s family and swears that there is carb spray running through her veins.
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