Marcos Ambrose and Jimmie Johnson were the class of the field in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Ambrose opened up a lead of more than two seconds when Brad Keselowski spun, stalled and leaked fluid on the track.
Under caution, Ambrose switched his car off, which is routine for drivers trying to save fuel. But there was no reason for Ambrose to do that, as he had plenty to last through a green-white-checkered finish. When he went to re-fire it, it wouldn’t start.
He slowed allowing six cars to pass him. When it re-fired, he tried to get back into the lead, but NASCAR rules state that he has to maintain a reasonable speed. And since he didn’t, he had to restart seventh, giving Johnson the lead.
Johnson drove away from the competition over the final laps and earned the first Sprint Cup road course victory of his career. The win is also Johnson’s first since NASCAR switched to the spoiler on the COT.
Top 5: Johnson, Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon.
Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Boris Said, Tony Stewart, and Juan Montoya finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Notables: Dale Earnhardt Jr (11th), Jan Magnussen (12th), AJ Allmendinger (13th), Mark Martin (14th), Jamie McMurray (15th), Ryan Newman (16th), Jeff Burton (27th), Carl Edwards (29th), Matt Kenseth (30th), Clint Bowyer (31st), Kurt Busch (32nd), Joey Logano (33rd), Denny Hamlin (34th), Kyle Busch (39th), and Martin Truex Jr (42nd).
Around lap 11, AJ Allmendinger got into Clint Bowyer, spinning him out. Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray, and Kyle Busch stacked up behind them. Busch made contact with McMurray, spinning him out. Busch got heavy damage to his nose.
Denny Hamlin suffered nose damage early in the race. Rather than fix it during a green-flag stop, the team decided to wait for a caution. A few laps after Hamlin made his pit stop, his hood flipped up. Hamlin drove to pit road with his hood obstructing his view. His team fixed the car while he was on pit road. He finished 34th.
Martin Truex Jr was running well for most of the day. He was in the top 10 when Jeff Gordon got into him, spinning him around. He was furious with Gordon and Juan Montoya, vowing to wreck them over the radio.
On a restart on lap 64, Boris Said didn’t get going. Cars stacked up behind him. Truex Jr, Regan Smith, Max Papis, Paul Menard, Sam Hornish Jr, and Denny Hamlin all got together, causing a pile up at the start finish line. The race was red flagged for clean up. Truex Jr and Smith got the worst of it.
Joey Logano spun off the bumper of Juan Montoya on lap 85. Mattias Ekström spun off the bumper of Brad Keselowski while Carl Edwards and David Gilliland also got back together on lap 92.
Give a call to Robby Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Boris Said, Jan Magnussen, and AJ Allmendinger for all finishing in the top 15 despite not being in the most competitive equipment. Good for them.