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A good day for So Cal: Johnson conquers road course, Gordon has a season high


  Jimmie Johnson tames the left turns of Infineon (Photo: Janelle Jalbert)

Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon) finally cracked the road course code and made his way to Victory Lane that the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

For most of the day, it appeared that Marcos Ambrose would be the one to enjoy a first time trip to Victory Lane. Ambrose was more than two seconds ahead of Johnson when Brad Keselowski spun and stalled in Turn 7 to bring out the seventh caution on Lap 103. In trying to save fuel under yellow, Ambrose slowed as the No. 47 failed to refire.

Johnson inherited the lead when Ambrose failed to keep up with the pace car during the final caution of the 110-lap race. Ambrose restarted seventh, but could not make his way to the front during the final five laps, as he finished sixth.
Johnson then pulled away from Robby Gordon (Orange) in the final five laps to earn the first road-course victory of his career.

“I thought he broke or something,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what was going on, but unfortunate for him because he was the fastest car there at the end. And I know he’s kicking himself for whatever went wrong there.”

“It’s my bad; I just feel really disappointed,” Ambrose said. “I should’ve had the motor cranked up, and it would have never been an issue.”

The race was filled with beating and banging with the biggest crash coming on the lap 67 restart. The chain-reaction pile up occurred as the field came to the start-finish line and included Sam Hornish Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. There was a 21 minute red flag as a result.

Robby Gordon had his best race of the season, his No. 7 Toyota finishing second, ahead of the current points leader, Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield). Rounding out the top five, defending Infineon winner Kasey Kahne finished fourth, and Jeff Gordon came in fifth.

The race was filled with the fender-rubbing action typically seen when 3,400-pound stock cars race around a road course. But the biggest crash came as the field was accelerating to take the green flag for a restart on Lap 67.

In the back of the pack, several drivers were caught in a chain-reaction collision as they approached the start-finish line, including Sam Hornish Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin, who has won a series-high five races this season.

The wreck required a red-flag period in which the rest of the field was parked for 21 minutes while crews cleaned up the debris. Another multicar crash occurred early in the race, collecting Kyle Busch, A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos), Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray.

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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.

You can join the discussion of So Cal Motorsports at the Southern California Motorsports Examiner page on Facebook.  Janelle can be reached via email for both comments and story ideas. You can follow Janelle as the Southern California Motorsports Examiner on Twitter as @SoCalMotorsport.

Janelle also serves as the NASCAR Truck Series Examiner.  Feel free to join the discussion about the hard racing in the CWTS at the NASCAR Truck Series Examiner fan page on Facebook.


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