Jimmie Johnson passes Coors Light Pole sitter Kasey Kahne on Lap 1 to take the lead for the first time in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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Ambrose’s Critical Error Hands Johnson Sonoma Win

After 105 laps of swapping places, one final blow decided whether Marcos Ambrose or Jimmie Johnson would come out on top of a race-long scrap for victory at Infineon Raceway.

Johnson was struggling with tyre wear, so Ambrose looked to have the upper hand heading to the final restart with only 5 laps to go. However, one crucial mistake decided whether the #47 or #48 would be heading to Victory Lane.

Ambrose was in fuel saving mode, and shut off his engine to coast along the start/finish straight. However, once he reached the foot of the hill he went to start his engine, only to hear the starter motor tick over endlessly. His Toyota Camry had ground to a halt halfway up the Turn 2 hill. Johnson and co. cruised by, and after Ambrose returned to the front of the pack after his embarrassing error, NASCAR told him to go back to 7th place for the last restart.

Robby Gordon meanwhile put in a good run to take 2nd place, fending off Kevin Harvick in the closing stages of the race.

There wasn’t much action in the first half of the race – until a pile-up at a restart on Lap 67 brought out the red flags. As Boris Said spun his tyres, it held up the whole of the inside lane, causing a cascade effect. The cars near the back of the field bunched up very quickly, and eventually there wasn’t any room left for cars to fit. 5 cars took the brunt of the impact (Hornish, Papis, Menard, Smith and Martin Truex) and there was debris scattered across the start finish straight. It took some time for Truex’s stricken Toyota to be cleared up, hence the brief race stoppage.

Once the race resumed, Johnson and Ambrose’s stops were fast approaching. The former made his pitstop on Lap 79, and Ambrose a lap later. Johnson looked much faster, but after being held up in traffic the Aussie was able to dive out of pit road just ahead of him and retain the lead.

Mattias Ekstrom was having a clean run, and with a good strategy on his side, he had been able to run in the Top 10 for most of the race despite qualifying outside of the Top 30. That run only lasted until Lap 92 however, when Brad Keselowski needlessly spun him out at the exit of Turn 7. David Gilliland helped Ekstrom get some payback however, after he spun Keselowski out on the entry to the same corner he got Ekstrom, which caused the race deciding caution period.

Johnson was just pleased he avoided the carnage that unfolded in the second half of the race, and was able to keep a clean nose to the finish.

“I was so thankful to be up front,” he said. “I still got hit a few times. I could hear our spotters saying, ‘They’re off in four, they’re off in seven. When you come back around in one, there’s going to be dirt on the road.’ I mean, there was stuff all over the place!”

He did however acknlowledge the reason he won was due to his lucky break, thanks to Ambrose’s mistake.

“I think Marcos had a very fast car in the short runs. I had a try or two at him before that, couldn’t get by him. So I’m not sure I would have gotten by him. It was definitely a gift kind of handed to us, as Chad said on the radio to me. From that point on, I just needed to get a good restart and get away from those guys.”

Robby Gordon meanwhile had mixed emotions – he was pleased to have finished so high in the order, but disappointed to just miss out on victory.

“It was obviously a good run for us,” he said. “We came here to win the race. But second place is pretty darn close to winning it. My team needs a little bit of morale here and there, and this will boost morale back at the workshop. I will say that we will come to Watkins Glen guns blazing. We’ll get a lot of confidence going into the Glen and spend a bunch of time getting more rear grip. At the end of the day, that’s what we struggled on with Jimmie”

Race Results

P  Driver	        Team	                                   Laps
1  Jimmie Johnson	Lowe's Chevrolet	                   110
2  Robby Gordon	        Monster Energy Toyota	                   110
3  Kevin Harvick	Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet	           110
4  Kasey Kahne	        Budweiser Ford	                           110
5  Jeff Gordon	        DuPont Chevrolet                 	   110
6  Marcos Ambrose	Clorox / Kleenex Toyota	                   110
7  Greg Biffle	        3M Ford	                                   110
8  Boris Said	        Air Guard / gtwgps.com Ford	           110
9  Tony Stewart	        Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet	   110
10 Juan Pablo Montoya	Target Chevrolet	                   110
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr.	AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet	   110
12 Jan Magnussen	hendrickcars.com Chevrolet	           110
13 A J Allmendinger	Insignia HDTV / Best Buy Ford         	   110
14 Mark Martin	        GoDaddy.com Chevrolet	                   110
15 Jamie McMurray	McDonald's Chevrolet                       110
16 Ryan Newman	        Haas Automation Chevrolet                  110
17 Elliott Sadler	Stanley Ford	                           110
18 Scott Speed	        Red Bull Toyota                            110
19 David Gilliland	Taco Bell Ford	                           110
20 David Reutimann	Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota               110
21 Mattias Ekstrom	Red Bull Toyota	                           110
22 Paul Menard	        CertainTeed / Menards Ford                 110
23 Bobby Labonte	Adobe Road Winery Chevrolet                110
24 Travis Kvapil	Long John Silver's Ice Flow Lemonade Ford  110
25 David Ragan	        UPS Ford                                   110
26 J J Yeley	        International Trucks Dodge                 110
27 Jeff Burton	        Caterpillar Chevrolet                      110
28 Kevin Conway 	Extenze Ford                               110
29 Carl Edwards	        Aflac Ford                                 110
30 Matt Kenseth	        Crown Royal Black Ford                     110
31 Clint Bowyer	        Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet      110
32 Kurt Busch	        Miller Lite Dodge                          110
33 Joey Logano	        Home Depot Toyota                          108
34 Denny Hamlin	        FedEx Express Toyota                       103
35 Brad Keselowski	Penske Dodge                               102
36 Sam Hornish Jr.	Mobil 1 Dodge                              93
37 Dave Blaney	        PRISM Motorsports Toyota                   86
38 Regan Smith	        Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet             86
39 Kyle Busch	        Pedigree Toyota	                           76
40 Joe Nemechek	        NEMCO Motorsports Toyota                   71
41 P J Jones	        SpeedFactory.TV Toyota                     68
42 Martin Truex Jr.	NAPA Auto Parts Toyota                     66
43 Max Papis	        GEICO Toyota                               65

Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts BPts Status TLd LLd
1 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet 110 195 10 Running 3 55
2 16 7 Robby Gordon Monster Energy Toyota 110 170 Running
3 4 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet 110 165 Running
4 1 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford 110 160 Running
5 5 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet 110 155 Running
6 6 47 Marcos Ambrose Clorox / Kleenex Toyota 110 155 5 Running 2 35
7 9 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 110 146 Running
8 17 26 Boris Said Air Guard / gtwgps.com Ford 110 147 5 Running 2 8
9 7 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet 110 143 5 Running 1 2
10 14 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 110 134 Running
11 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet 110 130 Running
12 32 09 Jan Magnussen hendrickcars.com Chevrolet 110 127 Running
13 15 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV / Best Buy Ford 110 124 Running
14 11 5 Mark Martin GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 110 121 Running
15 25 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet 110 118 Running
16 13 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet 110 115 Running
17 21 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford 110 117 5 Running 1 1
18 23 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota 110 109 Running
19 26 38 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford 110 106 Running
20 33 00 David Reutimann Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 110 103 Running
21 38 83 Mattias Ekstrom Red Bull Toyota 110 105 5 Running 1 7
22 18 98 Paul Menard CertainTeed / Menards Ford 110 97 Running
23 8 71 Bobby Labonte Adobe Road Winery Chevrolet 110 94 Running
24 40 37 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver’s Ice Flow Lemonade Ford 110 91 Running
25 42 6 David Ragan UPS Ford 110 88 Running
26 37 46 J J Yeley International Trucks Dodge 110 85 Running
27 30 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 110 82 Running
28 41 34 Kevin Conway # Extenze Ford 110 79 Running
29 19 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 110 76 Running
30 34 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford 110 73 Running
31 22 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet 110 75 5 Running 1 1
32 3 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 110 67 Running
33 20 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota 108 64 Running
34 12 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 103 61 Running
35 36 12 Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 102 58 Accident
36 39 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge 93 55 Running
37 43 66 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota 86 52 Rear Gear
38 31 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 86 49 Running
39 27 18 Kyle Busch Pedigree Toyota 76 46 Running
40 28 87 Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports Toyota 71 43 Clutch
41 35 07 P J Jones SpeedFactory.TV Toyota 68 40 Electrical
42 10 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 66 42 5 Accident 1 1
43 29 13 Max Papis GEICO Toyota 65 34 Accident