Monday, March 28, 2011

Hendrick Garage: Fontana

The land of Hollywood is where we find our drivers this week. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were starting in the back (29th and 30th respectively), while Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin had decent starting positions (16th and 10th). Could the Hendrick drivers find the speed to make it to the front?

Mark Martin
Mark Martin started out his race strong, had great pit stops and great teamwork all around. The No. 5 Go Daddy Chevy was looking strong and charging through the field of cars; however, a late caution caused Martin to end up finishing 20th. Mark Martin is currently 14th in points.

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Jeff Gordon 
For Jeff, his day was definitely not what he wanted. Gordon was up in the top 20 at the start but for some reason he just couldn’t find the speed he needed. Instead of going forward, he was going backwards. It just wasn’t a very good day for the 24 team, but like the saying goes, you win some and you lose some. Jeff Gordon finished 18th in Sunday’s race and he is now 16th in points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Jr.’s day was pretty much up, down, up, down. His day started great as he drove to the front of the field, but a green flag pit stop cost them. The 88 tire changer suffered an injury, resulting in a pulled hamstring. Despite the pain, the tire changer still went and finished his job; after the stop, he was replaced with a backup 48/88 tire changer. That cost the 88 team a bunch of spots on the track. The 88 team would end up finishing 12th and is currently 12th in points.

Quote from Dale Jr: “We’re a top 10 team. We’re doing pretty good. I like the consistency. That’s something I’ve never really had. This is the most consistent I’ve ever been in my whole career. So that’s a good thing. I think the team’s pretty good. I’ve got to do a better job helping them put a car on the track for qualifying that’s going to get us in the top 15 for qualifying. You’re really not helping yourself starting races in 30th. We have really good race cars and don’t want to be doing that."

Credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for NASCAR
Jimmie Johnson 
Coming back to Fontana marks the 10-year anniversary of Jimmie and Chad’s first win. It’s a very good track and with this special day added in ... could they win? Jimmie had a great day; all day the 48 was chasing the 18 but at the very end the caution would give him the lead. Johnson kept that lead and kept it strong until Kevin Harvick gave him a bump, which caused him to get loose. Johnson would finish 2nd as Harvick would win the race. Jimmie is now 5th in the points. 

Quote from Jimmie: "We had a great race today and I knew tires were coming. If I could have gotten by the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) a lap sooner maybe that would have made the difference and I would have had enough of a margin to hold off the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick, race winner) but he was rolling on the top. I did all that I could. I was dead-sideways. I think I hit the fence one time off of [turn] two chasing Kyle with the right rear first because it was sliding off the corner, Great day for the Lowe's Chevrolet. I just wish I could have won here at my home track."

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