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Infineon recap: Johnson wins, teammates in top 14

 

SONOMA, Calif. (June 20, 2010) – Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 55 laps on his way to his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course win on Sunday at Infineon Raceway. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon (fifth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11th) and Mark Martin (14th) rounded out the top 14.

The day started promising for Johnson, who lined up his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet from the outside pole position and dominated the start of the race. But as the race progressed, he settled into second and with just six laps left in the 110-lap affair, Johnson appeared poised for his first runner-up finish at the 10-turn racetrack. Following then-leader Marcos Ambrose, NASCAR officials waved the caution flag for a spin in Turn 7. During the caution flag, Ambrose’s car stalled and he dropped in the field. Johnson maintained his position, and inherited the lead after NASCAR officials ruled Ambrose could not return to the top spot.

“I thought he broke or something,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know what was going on. It was unfortunate for him —he was the fastest car at the end. I know he’s kicking himself. But we maintained speed behind the pace car, and I said, ‘OK I’ll take this.’ And off we went.”

When the field restarted, Johnson stretched out his lead on his way to Victory Lane, giving Hendrick Motorsports its sixth win at Infineon and 15th road-course win, which leads all other teams. Johnson, who has been working on his road course skills by participating in endurance events with Gainsco Racing and testing with Hendrick Motorsports, improves to second in the driver standings.

“It feels so good” to finally win at a road course, said Johnson, who picks up his fourth win of the season. “I’ve been working really hard to get better as a road course driver. Thanks to all the guys from Gainsco Racing for letting me run their Grand-Am car. On top of that, Hendrick Motorsports has been working so hard to get better at this stuff. It was an awesome day.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet,  lined up fifth and held steady in the top of the field. He crossed the finish line fifth and remains fifth in the driver standings.

“We had an awesome race car on the long runs,” Gordon said. “We needed those long runs. We weren’t very good on the short runs. We fought as hard as we could to bring home the DuPont Chevrolet in fifth.”

Earnhardt improved from his 24th starting spot to match his best finish at the Sonoma racetrack. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet crossed the finish line 11th and now ranks 13th in the driver standings. He also finished 11th in 2003 and 2004.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, lined up 11th and paced himself during the event to pick up his best finish in the last four races at Infineon.  Martin ranks 11th in the driver standings.

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