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NASCAR at California Speedway a ‘knockout’

Jeff Gordon gets ‘speeding violation’

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Fontana comes alive with another busy NASCAR weekend at the California Speedway. This was the 5th race of the season and the first time for California race fans to witness the new “knockout” qualifying rules. Matt Kenseth #20 won the Pole Friday and finished fourth on Sunday giving him a top 5 finish.

Jeff Gordon sped to his pit during the first caution and was tagged for a speeding violation. He restarted in 43rd place and worked his way back to the top 10 in only 39 laps. He seemed to have the fastest car of the day but the restarts continued to haunt him. His teammate Jimmie Johnson led the most laps, dominating the race. With six to go, Johnson had a flat that ripped his chances away at his home track. He ended the day with a 24th place finish. With Jimmie’s tire going flat and the race staying green, the 24 car was in the lead. As Gordon wound down a couple laps, cars were dropping fast. Three cars had tire issues and managed to get off the track without causing a caution. Unfortunately for Gordon, his luck would not hold. With only three laps left, yet a fourth flat causes a spin and a caution. The leaders hit the pits in preparation of a green, white, checker race waiting for them.

With most cars getting fresh tires, the stage was set for a wild restart that did not disappoint. Rookie Kyle Larson, who got his first Nationwide win on Saturday, came out of nowhere and tried to make a sweep of the weekend. He finished second behind Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch came in 3rd and Tony Stewart rounded off the top 5 with a 5th place finish. Gordon’s victory slipped away leaving him with a 13th place finish. Denny Hamlin did not race as a result of vision problems associated with a sinus infection. Sam Hornish JR. drove the #11 car and finished 17th and Danica Patrick finished 14th, giving her a top 15 finish.

The big issue on the track was tire wear. NASCAR allowed the crews to add more rear camber. The already low tire pressure coupled with the too much camber in the left-rear tires caused heavier tire wear on the tire’s outer edge which was apparent with 9 cautions during Sunday’s race.

All in all, it was a weather perfect day for the sold out crowd to cheer their favorite drivers on to victory!

Photos and story by Bill Harrington

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