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Johnson wins at Sonoma

Inherits lead from Ambrose
Sunday, June 20, 2010


Jimmie Johnson storms around Infineon Raceway on his way to victory
Bob Heathcote/

Jimmie Johnson scratched another item off his bucket list—but not without unintended help from Marcos Ambrose.

Johnson inherited the lead in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway when Ambrose failed to keep up with the pace car during the final caution of the 110-lap race and pulled away from Robby Gordon in the final five laps to win the first road-course race of his career.

Ambrose had opened a lead of more than two seconds over Johnson when Brad Keselowski spun and stalled in Turn 7 to bring out the seventh caution on Lap 103. Attempting to save fuel during the caution laps, Ambrose lost power and slowed, and his No. 47 Toyota failed to refire.

Ambrose’s engine finally started, but by then, the first six cars in the running order had passed him. Consequently, Ambrose restarted seventh with five laps left and was able to recover one position before the finish.

“Boys … finally,” Johnson radioed to his crew after crossing the finish line. “Better be ready to drink some beer here in a little bit. Woohoo! About time! Boooyah!”

Johnson won for the fourth time this season and the 51st time in his career, breaking a tie for 10th on the all-time list with Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett. The victory was the 15th on a road course for Hendrick Motorsports, the most for one organization.

Ambrose leads Johnson
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Ambrose could only reflect on what might have been. Only three other foreign drivers—and no Australian—had ever won a Cup race. Nor had team owners Tad Geschickter, Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty.

“I was leading the race and had trouble getting the motor cranked back up a little bit there, and NASCAR made the call,” Ambrose said as he walked back to his transporter after the race. “I was trying to save fuel, and the motor shut off. It didn’t recrank the way it should. I didn’t stop rolling, but it is what it is.

“I don’t think (NASCAR should have made that call). But that’s in my opinion, because I lost the race. There’s not a lot of words to say. I’m just sorry for my guys.”

Johnson crossed the finish line 3.105 seconds ahead of Gordon and moved up four spots in the standings to second, 140 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, who ran third. Harvick began the day 22 points ahead of Kyle Busch, 47 ahead of Hamlin and 118 ahead of Kurt Busch. But all three struggled. Kyle Busch finished 39th, Hamlin 34th and Kurt Busch 32nd.

Polesitter Kasey Kahne was fourth, and Jeff Gordon fifth, but the major topic of discussion after the race was Ambrose’s gaffe.

“With Marcos, we came around through Turn 1, and normally guys shut the car off downhill, coasting to save fuel,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think at first that he had shut the car off, going up the hill—that’s just the last place that he would probably do it.

“I thought maybe he ran out of fuel or had an electrical problem or something major, because the car just came to a stop. At that point, I’m thinking, ‘How does the procedure work?’ I know when you come to a stop, you’re clearly not maintaining a reasonable speed, and it would be interesting to see where they put him.

“In one respect, I felt like, if they put him back up in front of me, I’d kind of see that as OK, although I’d be raising hell on the radio and cussing like crazy and trying to fight it, because it looked like his car broke, and it shut off. The way the rule reads, you have to maintain a reasonable speed, and coming to a stop on the racetrack is no speed.

“All that being said, I feel bad for him. His team owners gave my chance in (the) Nationwide (Series) in ’98. … It was definitely a gift kind of handed to us.”

Ambrose crew chief Frank Kerr visited NASCAR officials after the race, and said he understood the ruling. But asked if he was "content" with the ruling, he said only "no comment."


1 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 195/10 110 Running
2 16 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Monster Energy 170/0 110 Running
3 4 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 165/0 110 Running
4 1 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 160/0 110 Running
5 5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 155/0 110 Running
6 6 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Clorox / Kleenex 155/5 110 Running
7 9 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 146/0 110 Running
8 17 26 Boris Said Ford Air National Guard / 147/5 110 Running
9 7 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 143/5 110 Running
10 14 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 134/0 110 Running
11 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 130/0 110 Running
12 32 09 Jan Magnussen Chevrolet 127/0 110 Running
13 15 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia HDTV / Best Buy 124/0 110 Running
14 11 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 121/0 110 Running
15 25 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 118/0 110 Running
16 13 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 115/0 110 Running
17 21 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Stanley 117/5 110 Running
18 23 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 109/0 110 Running
19 26 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 106/0 110 Running
20 33 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 103/0 110 Running
21 38 83 Mattias Ekstrom Toyota Red Bull 105/5 110 Running
22 18 98 Paul Menard Ford CertainTeed / Menards 97/0 110 Running
23 8 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Adobe Road Winery 94/0 110 Running
24 40 37 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 91/0 110 Running
25 42 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 88/0 110 Running
26 37 46 J.J. Yeley Dodge International Truck and Engines 85/0 110 Running
27 30 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 82/0 110 Running
28 41 34 Kevin Conway * Ford Extenze 79/0 110 Running
29 19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac / "Toy Story 3" 76/0 110 Running
30 34 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 73/0 110 Running
31 22 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 75/5 110 Running
32 3 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 67/0 110 Running
33 20 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 64/0 108 Running
34 12 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 61/0 103 Running
35 36 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 58/0 102 Accident
36 39 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 55/0 93 Running
37 43 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 52/0 86 Rear Gear
38 31 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 49/0 86 Running
39 27 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 46/0 76 Running
40 28 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 43/0 71 Clutch
41 35 207 P.J. Jones Toyota 40/0 68 Electrical
42 10 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 42/5 66 Accident
43 29 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 34/0 65 Accident

* Denotes Rookie

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