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Press Snoop: A Californian NASCAR tale.


Jeff Gordon became the first repeat winner of a NASCAR Cup race at California Speedway on Sunday, taking victory at the Auto Club 500 Nextel Cup Series race. His margin of victory over team-mate Jimmie Johnson was 12.871secs.

Gordon started sixteenth, and won $318,628 for the 250 laps on the two-mile banked oval. This was his 66th Cup victory, and his third at California Speedway in the eight years the race has been held. This year, the ISC owned track will have a second race, over Labor Day weekend. Ryan Newman finished third.

Pole sitter Kasey Kahne qualified at a speed of 186.940mph, and also turned the fastest race lap, but finished 13th overall, the last car on the lead lap.

Bobby Labonte had a heartbreaking fifth place finish, after chasing Gordon for the victory. Labonte lost the fuel challenge and ran out of gas in sight of the chequered flag. He had gained the most laps during the race, after starting twenty-seventh. Gordon ran out of gas while doing doughnuts after the race.

Points leader Dale Earnhardt finished 19th, after struggling with his car, having started tenth.

All 43 entrants ran the race and no-one was sent home. NASCAR said it was a sold-out crowd of 120,000. The grandstands hold 91,000 fans, but no doubt the nearly 100 degree heat was a factor in the empty seating. That, and perhaps this race wasn't a sell-out at all. It has been non-stop hot in Southern California, and forest fires are again making the news. Last autumn, California Speedway cancelled its Champ Car race due to the emergency from all the nearby forest fires.

There were 23 official lead changes among 15 drivers, the highest number since 2000. Jeff Gordon led the most laps and all but eight drivers finished the race, with all but one of the DNFs due to mechanical problems. Stanton Barrett crashed nose-on into the newly installed SAFER Barrier on lap 21 and, although he never lost consciousness, he was hospitalised overnight for observation at Loma Linda University Medical Centre. The Hollywood stunt man was released Monday. There were six cautions for 39 laps.

Brendan Gaughan was the top Rookie, starting fifth and finishing sixth.

Johnny Benson practiced and qualified the #09 Dodge, but it was raced by Joe Ruttman, who had to start from the back due to the driver change. He did his usual two laps, retired with 'vibration' problems, and earned $64,161, or more than $32,000 per lap. Winner Gordon earned a measly $1275 per lap.

Despite all of the above, Tony Stewart continues to be the talk of the town - for all the wrong reasons. For yet another race, he has managed to both hit and anger more drivers. This weekend, he hit race winner Gordon, and also Rusty Wallace, who definitely was not amused. Afterwards, he was angry, not only at the hit, but also at Stewart's 'flipping him off' after the race.

"I wanted to get out of the car and whip his rear end," Wallace admitted, "The kid needs to calm down a little bit... He's really frustrated for some reason."



Related Pictures

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Sunset over Jeff Gordon`s Chevrolet
Bobby Labonte, Joe Gibbs Racing Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. [Photo credit GM Racing]
Tony Stewart
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 2nd place Sunday, November 9, 2014 in the final Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Gordon just missed out being in the Championship 4 finale next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, speaks to the media after failing to advance to race for the championship in the season finale after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, who is in the Chase, qualified for 7th position Friday, November 7, 2014 for Sunday`s final Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, and the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Smoke pours from the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, driven by Darrell Wallace Jr., during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Friday, October 31, 2014 for Sunday`s Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Gordon, who is in the Chase, leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings . (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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