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”
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
|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|