Sonoma, CA - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, kept his incredible record of top-five finishes at Infineon Raceway in tact after scoring third in the final running order when the checkered flag fell on the Save Mart 350. Gordon, who started...
Sonoma, CA - Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, kept his incredible record of top-five finishes at Infineon Raceway in tact after scoring third in the final running order when the checkered flag fell on the Save Mart 350.
Gordon, who started fifth, and his Steve Letarte-led Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team rebounded from falling deep in the running order early in the race to notch the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion's 10th top-five finish in 16 starts at the l.99-mile road course. Gordon's run jumped him three places in the NSCS point standings to sixth with 16 of 36 races in the books.
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS, scored his second consecutive fourth-place finish at Infineon. He started 19th in the 43-car field and steadily worked his way toward the front throughout the scheduled 110-lap race.
For the fifth time this season, the race finished under green-white-checkered conditions pushing the finish to the 112th lap. Bowyer's finish gained him two-spots in the standings. He is now 10th with 10 races remaining until the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Casey Mears brought his No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS to the line in fifth place to score his best finish of the season.
Five Team Chevy drivers continue to hold spots in the top-12 point standing positions.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Impala SS, finished 12th and continues to sit third in points.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, also rebounded from adversity when he was penalized for speeding off pit road to finish 13th. He remains second in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, finished 15th to hold on to the fifth points position.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, was running strong in the top-five after working his way through the field from the 32nd starting spot until a three-car incident on lap 106 sent him to pit road for repairs. Harvick salvaged a 30th place finish but dropped to 13th in the standings, just two points behind the magic 12th spot.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3RD:
"I am excited about getting a third place finish. I think it shows what kind of a race team we have, we never give up and fight hard. We like this place, we run good here. We weren't bad in here at the end, but we just really missed it in the beginning. I don't know if it was air pressure or what it was, but we just lost all the grip. I couldn't drive it; I thought I was going to wreck. I thought I wore the tires out but they said no, the wear was good.
"Steve Letarte made some great adjustments and made a great call to come on pit road just as the caution was coming out and that gave us a bunch of spots. Then we got the car pretty good and drove up throw there, but we just didn't have anything for those guys up front.
"What a great effort by this DuPont Chevrolet team. That is what has put us in the winner's circle many times here. We just never give up.
"Those last two laps were two of the toughest laps I have ever made around a race track. It was so slick out there and we were all dirt tracking it out there. It was fun and hairy at the same time.
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS IMPALA SS -- Finished 4th:
"It was a good day, just a good way to get things bounced back on the right track, been off a little in the last few weeks. Just real proud of Gil (Martin, crew chief) and all the guys on this Jack Daniels Chevrolet team for getting us back on track.
"Jeff (Gordon) was right, with all that oil dry up there on turn 10, it was so slick, I about lost it but got it saved.
"That is two fourth places for us here at Sonoma. Good day for us. Had a lot of fun out there. Patience prevailed at the end, it was pretty wild out there, and it was slick.
"This was exactly what we needed. It is weird when you look at a road course and I am a guy that grew up on dirt track background as the place for us to bounce back. This place has been good to us and it is good momentum going in to New Hampshire where we won our first race, so we hope to continue that on."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Finished 15th:
YOU HAD A PRETTY STRONG PERFORMANCE EARLY ON IN THIS RACE, WHAT HAPPENED? "Even when we were up front leading the car was a little tight through the center of the corners and as the day went on and the track took rubber, I just got tighter and tighter through the center. It was a great effort. Track position really helped.
"Our qualifying effort really helped. Unfortunately we missed the call on the strategy when we were on pit road and the caution came out. You just don't know when cautions are going to come. So, it was just one of those deals. But it was a frustrating day. I got turned around late in the race and that didn't help us any. But we rallied back and got an okay finish and we'll move on."
YOU'VE WORKED A LOT ON YOUR ROAD RACING SET-UPS. OUTSIDE OF A FEW LITTLE PROBLEMS, ARE YOU IMPRESSED OVERALL WITH THE DIRECTION THE TEAM IS HEADED? "I think so. If you look at the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) results today, and Casey (Mears) had a great run, and we were competitive, we still need to be a little bit better, but we've definitely made a lot of progress."
YOU HAD A GOOD CAR AND LED A BUNCH OF LAPS. WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE CAR? "As the track took rubber, I just got tighter and tighter through the center. We only had two stops to really work on the car. I just think we had too tight of a set-up for the center of the turn. We were great in practice yesterday and good in qualifying, but as the race wore on and the track took rubber, it hurt me."
GREG BIFFLE GOT INTO YOU. AFTER THE RACE YOU HAD SOME THINGS TO SAY TO HIM. WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HIM? "I just wanted to make sure it wasn't intentional. Racing for 15th and dive-bombing someone around the outside of Turn 1 up into Turn 2 isn't really the smartest thing, in my opinion. He thought it was a great idea and I just wanted to make sure it wasn't intentional. And it sounds like it was a racing deal, so I guess we're all right."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE ONE GOT AWAY FROM YOU TODAY? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A CAR THAT IF YOU KEPT UP WITH IT, COULD HAVE WON THIS THING? "You know, we led early. But I felt like there were guys coming. I felt like we really had a top five car today. When the green flag dropped and I got a good lead, I could hear the lap times of the guys behind me. We were probably a 4th or 5th place car. I certainly wanted to win, but we need to take realistic steps to get better."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5TH: "We just have gotten off to a horrible start this year and it just feels really good to get a top-five. Everybody on the team needed this. These guys have been working really hard, everybody has been working really hard to find out exactly what it is to do to get better.
"At times we get better and at times we take steps backwards, so I am really proud about what happened here today with the Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet. I am looking forward to the rest of the season. We have a lot more season left to rebound,
"The best thing that we did today was we just stayed out a little bit longer every time and then seemed like the cautions fell at the right time that got us the track position we needed. Then fortunately our car was good enough to maintain that track position. So I am real proud of the guys today, we had a good race car and good strategy and were able to capitalize on other guys mistakes today so it worked out for us."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS -- Finished 30th
"The Shell-Penzoil Chevy was really fast all day. I made a mistake late in the race and drove the car in too deep and wheel-hopped it. I feel bad for involving the No. 26 and the No. 20. Hopefully we can turn things around next week at Loudon."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS -- Finished 13th:
"Scott (Miller) made great calls in the pits as far as gaining track position. I made a mistake and sped down pit road after the second stop. I had to come down pit road again and serve a penalty, which cost us a lot of spots. The AT&T Racing team doesn't give up and we'll go get 'em next week at Loudon."
-credit: gm racing