Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tony Stewart wins in a rain shortened Auto Club 400


Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR

Heading into Auto Club Speedway if you checked the forecast, you knew the race was to the halfway mark. Drivers and teams knew that as well and the racing reflected that.

Denny Hamlin started on pole but Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch quickly took the lead. This was a welcome change for JGR, who has yet to win at Auto Club Speedway, the only active track on the circuit in which the team is winless.

The race, although only 129 laps, went caution free until the yellow was displayed for the rain. 

With five lead changes between Busch, Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart the racing was at a fever pitch because every lap counted. Typically you can drive around the first 100+ laps and go hard in the second half, today there was no second half.

Pit road was a cause of problem for many drivers. Speeding infractions resulted in pass thru penalties for Brendan Gaughan. Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski and J.J. Yeley. That was not it for the penalties, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon were sent to the tail end of the lead lap for tire violations. Gordon’s problems did not end there, he also served a stop and go (prior to that) after removing equipment from his pit box. The gas can stuck in the car and as he pulled away, the can and Brad Pickens his gas man were both removed from the pit box. The penalty was incurred for the can being removed from the box.

As the race was halted, Tony Stewart was declared the winner and now has two victories early this season. Read more in this week’s Smoke Signals by Rebecca Kivak. 


Race Results:
1.    Tony Stewart
2.    Kyle Busch
3.    Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4.    Kevin Harvick
5.    Carl Edwards
6.    Greg Biffle
7.    Ryan Newman
8.    Martin Truex Jr.
9.    Kurt Busch
10.   Jimmie Johnson
11.   Mark Martin
12.   Denny Hamlin
13.   Matt Kenseth
14.   Clint Bowyer
15.   Kasey Kahne
16.   AJ Allmendinger
17.   Juan Pablo Montoya
18.   Brad Keselowski
19.   Paul Menard
20.   Regan Smith
21.   Marcos Ambrose
22.   Jeff Burton
23.   Casey Mears
24.   Joey Logano
25.   Aric Almirola
26.   Jeff Gordon
27.   David Reutimann
28.   Bobby Labonte
29.   Travis Kvapil
30.   David Gilliland
31.   David Ragan
32.   Jamie McMurray
33.   Dave Blaney
34.   Ken Schrader
35.   J.J. Yeley
36.   Landon Cassill
37.   Josh Wise
38.   Michael McDowell
39.   David Stremme
40.   Mike Bliss
41.   Scott Riggs
42.   Reed Sorenson
43.   Brendan Gaughan

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