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NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Toyota/Save Mart 350 Preview

From The Sports Network

 
DATE: Sunday, June 24th
SITE: Infineon Raceway (1968) -- Sonoma, California
TRACK: 1.99-mile, 10-turn road course
ANNUAL: 24th
CAPACITY: 47,000 (Grandstand Seating)
TELEVISION: TNT
ANNOUNCERS: Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach, Kyle Petty
RADIO: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 3 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 3:18 p.m. (ET)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Kurt Busch
RUNNER-UP: Jeff Gordon
POLE WINNER: Joey Logano (Finished 6th)
LAPS: 110
MILES: 218.9 miles (352.21 kilometers)
QUALIFYING RECORD: Jeff Gordon, 2005 (94.325 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Ricky Rudd, 2002 (81.007 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $5,637,427
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $293,300; 2nd - $234,486; 3rd - $204,791 (2011 figures)
 
2011 Finish
FinishDriverStartFinishDriverStart
1Kurt Busch116Joey Logano1
2Jeff Gordon137Jimmie Johnson12
3Carl Edwards238Martin Truex Jr14
4Clint Bowyer99Kevin Harvick26
5Marcos Ambrose810Brad Keselowski15
2011 Toyota/Save Mart 350 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 75.411 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 54 minutes, 10 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 2.685 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 5 for 17 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 12 among 9 drivers
POLE WINNER: Joey Logano (93.256 m.p.h.)
Past Toyota/Save Mart 350 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Kurt Busch (11th) -- Dodge -- 75.411 m.p.h.
2010 -- Jimmie Johnson (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 74.357 m.p.h.
2009 -- Kasey Kahne (5th) -- Dodge -- 71.012 m.p.h.
2008 -- Kyle Busch (30th) -- Toyota -- 76.445 m.p.h.
2007 -- Juan Pablo Montoya (32nd) -- Dodge -- 74.547 m.p.h.
2006 -- Jeff Gordon (11th) -- Chevrolet -- 73.953 m.p.h.
2005 -- Tony Stewart (7th) -- Chevrolet -- 72.845 m.p.h.
2004 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 77.456 m.p.h.
2003 -- Robby Gordon (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 73.821 m.p.h.
2002 -- Ricky Rudd (7th) -- Ford -- 81.007 m.p.h. (race record)
2001 -- Tony Stewart (3rd) -- Pontiac -- 75.889 m.p.h.
2000 -- Jeff Gordon (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 78.789 m.p.h.
1999 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 70.378 m.p.h.
1998 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 72.387 m.p.h.
1997 -- Mark Martin (1st) -- Ford -- 75.788 m.p.h.
1996 -- Rusty Wallace (7th) -- Ford -- 77.673 m.p.h.
1995 -- Dale Earnhardt (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 70.681 m.p.h.
1994 -- Ernie Irvan (1st) -- Ford -- 77.458 m.p.h.
1993 -- Geoff Bodine (3rd) -- Ford -- 77.013 m.p.h.
1992 -- Ernie Irvan (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 81.412 m.p.h.
1991 -- Davey Allison (13th) -- Ford -- 72.970 m.p.h.
1990 -- Rusty Wallace (11th) -- Pontiac -- 69.245 m.p.h.
1989 -- Ricky Rudd (4th) -- Buick -- 76.088 m.p.h.
 
NOTE: Formerly called Banquet Frozen Foods 300 (1989-91), The Save Mart 300
(1992), Save Mart Supermarkets 300 (1993-97), Save Mart/Kragen 350
(1998-2000).
 
Past Toyota/Save Mart 350 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Joey Logano -- 6th
2010 -- Kasey Kahne -- 4th
2009 -- Brian Vickers -- 16th
2008 -- Kasey Kahne -- 33rd
2007 -- Jamie McMurray -- 37th
2006 -- Kurt Busch -- 5th
2005 -- Jeff Gordon -- 33rd
2004 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
2003 -- Boris Said -- 6th
2002 -- Tony Stewart -- 2nd
2001 -- Jeff Gordon -- 3rd
2000 -- Rusty Wallace -- 26th
1999 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
1998 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
1997 -- Mark Martin -- 1st
1996 -- Terry Labonte -- 5th
1995 -- Ricky Rudd -- 4th
1994 -- Ernie Irvan -- 1st
1993 -- Dale Earnhardt -- 6th
1992 -- Ricky Rudd -- 4th
1991 -- Ricky Rudd -- 2nd
1990 -- Ricky Rudd -- 3rd
1989 -- Rusty Wallace -- 2nd
Last Race Results
RACE: Quicken Loans 400 (June 17th)
SITE: Michigan International Speedway -- Brooklyn, Michigan
MILES: 400
LAPS: 200
WINNER: Dale Earnhardt Jr
RUNNER-UP: Tony Stewart
THIRD: Matt Kenseth
FOURTH: Greg Biffle
FIFTH: Jimmie Johnson
POLE WINNER: Marcos Ambrose (Finished 9th)
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 52 minutes, 29 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 139.144 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 5.393 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 8 for 39 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 23 among 14 drivers
LAP LEADERS: M. Ambrose 1-5; G. Biffle 6-26; M. Ambrose 27-31; M. Kenseth
32-48; M. Ambrose 49-52; J. Yeley 53; G. Biffle 54-68; M. Ambrose
69; D. Earnhardt Jr. 70-82; D. Blaney 83; D. Gilliland 84; D.
Earnhardt Jr. 85-86; T. Stewart 87-104; D. Earnhardt Jr. 105-117;
J. Gordon 118; J. Montoya 119-122; J. Gordon 123-125; D.
Earnhardt Jr. 126-162; G. Biffle 163-164; C. Bowyer 165; J.
McMurray 166; B. Keselowski 167-169; J. Burton 170; D. Earnhardt
Jr. 171-200.
Toyota/Save Mart 350 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/McDonald's
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Farmers Insurance
7Robby Gordon (Orange, CA)Dodge/Mapei
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/Stanley
10Tomy Drissi (Hollywood, CA)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Ground
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/Geico
14Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Office Depot/Mobil 1
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/3M/US Stationary
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Roush Fenway Racing
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/M&M's
19Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Toyota/Humphrey Smith Racing
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Home Depot
22A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/Drive to End Hunger
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/MDS Transport
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Moen
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Rheem
30Brian Simo (Carlsbad, CA)Toyota/Inception Motorsports
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Wheaties
32Boris Said (Carlsbad, CA)Chevrolet/hendrickcars.com
33Stephen Leicht (Asheville, NC)Chevrolet/littlejoesauto.com
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/Green One High Performance
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/1-800-LOANMART
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Quicken Loans
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Medallion
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Clorox
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's
49J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Toyota/JPO Absorbents
51 *Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Brian Vickers (Thomasville, NC)Toyota/RK Motors Charlotte
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood&Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/Amp Energy/Nat'l Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King
95Scott Speed (Manteca, CA)Ford/Leavine Family Racing
98David Mayhew (Atascadero, CA)Ford/Phil Parsons Racing
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Aflac
 
* - defending champion.
 
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Driver200320042005200620072008200920102011
Kurt Busch28th36th3rd5th22nd32nd15th32ndWon
Jeff Gordon2ndWon33rdWon7th3rd9th5th2nd
Carl Edwards------38th6th18th9th13th29th3rd
Clint Bowyer---------16th4th4th8th31st4th
Marcos Ambrose---------------42nd3rd6th5th
Joey Logano------------------19th33rd6th
Jimmie Johnson17th5th36th10th17th15th4thWon7th
Martin Truex Jr.---------15th24th16th25th42nd8th
Kevin Harvick3rd12th37th24th2nd30th29th3rd9th
Brad Keselowski---------------------35th10th
Kyle Busch------40th11th8thWon22nd39th11th
A.J. Allmendinger---------------37th7th13th13th
Matt Kenseth14th20th11th17th34th8th18th30th14th
Jamie McMurray20th2nd13th18th37th18th14th15th15th
Paul Menard---------------34th21st22nd17th
Kasey Kahne---31st41st7th23rd33rdWon4th20th
Jeff Burton38th9th30th7th3rd13th34th27th21st
Juan Pablo Montoya------------Won6th6th10th22nd
Greg Biffle37th13th14th4th5th11th28th7th23rd
Ryan Newman5th14th9th2nd20th7th17th16th25th
Brian Vickers---22nd34th14th---14th16th---36th
Denny Hamlin---------12th10th27th5th34th37th
Tony Stewart12th15thWon28th6th10th2nd9th39th
Dale Earnhardt Jr11th11th42nd26th13th12th26th11th41st
 
Mover of the Week
Carl Edwards - Started in the 42nd position and finished 11th
 
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Jimmie Johnson
Darkhorse - Marcos Ambrose
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Matt Kenseth) - Finished 3rd
Last Week's Darkhorse (Kasey Kahne) - Finished 33rd
 
NOTES:
Kurt Busch will attempt to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350 for the second straight year, but it will be a difficult task, as no driver other than Jeff Gordon has ever accomplished this task in the 23-year history of the race. Gordon won at Sonoma, CA consecutively from 1998-2000.

Last season, Busch, the 2004 series champion, put on a dominating performance in at Infineon Raceway for his first road course victory in the series. He led 76 of 110 laps around this 1.99-mile, 12-turn Northern California course. Busch finished 2.7 seconds ahead of Gordon.

Busch capitalized on pit strategy by only stopping twice while the other front runners made three or more stops. It was Busch's 23rd career Sprint Cup win but his first since the 600-mile race at Charlotte in May 2010 (38 races).

Off to a horrific start this year, Busch has just one top-10 in 14 starts and has failed to crack the top-20 since mid-April.

Back in 2010, Jimmie Johnson finally got the monkey off his back at Sonoma. Infineon Raceway was one of just five active tracks that Johnson had not won on. The list however remains at five, as Watkins Glen, Chicagoland, Michigan, Homestead-Miami and now Kentucky have failed to produce victories for Johnson.

Johnson benefited from Marcos Ambrose's costly mistake during a caution period in the closing laps to win the 2010 running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Ambrose held the lead during a caution with seven laps remaining, but the Australian driver turned his engine off in an effort to conserve fuel. Ambrose slowed on the track and fell from his leading position to seventh.

According to NASCAR rules, drivers must maintain the caution speed in order to keep their running position. That allowed Johnson, who was running second at the time, to take the lead for good. After the final restart, Johnson easily pulled away from Robby Gordon and then drove to his first road course win in 17 starts.

In 2009 Kasey Kahne reclaimed the lead on the 80th lap and never looked back, as he outlasted Tony Stewart by 0.748 seconds for his 10th career Sprint Cup title. Pole sitter Brian Vickers led the opening 16 laps, but finished a distant 16th. Prior to his win at Sonoma, Kahne had never finished in the top-10 in a NASCAR road course race. His best finish was 14th, which came twice at Watkins Glen, NY. The victory also ended a 37-race drought, with his last win coming in June 2008 at Pocono, while driving for Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Prior to the start of the 2009 season, GEM aligned with Petty Enterprises to form Richard Petty Motorsports.

After three average finishes in this race, Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in 2008, as he out dueled David Gilliland by 1.716 seconds for his ninth Sprint Cup title. Starting from the 30th position, Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 33, but was overtaken by Carl Edwards on lap 69. Edwards' advantage was short-lived, as Busch reclaimed the lead for good on lap 71, and then held it the rest of the way. Pole sitter Kasey Kahne led the first four laps, but was never a factor from there, as he finished 33rd.

In his 17th Sprint Cup start, Juan Pablo Montoya picked up his first win at Sonoma, as he took the checkered flag 4.097 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick in 2007. Montoya, who started 32nd, claimed the lead from Jamie McMurray on lap 104, and then led the final seven circuits. McMurray, the pole sitter McMurray, wound up finishing 37th. Only four cars failed to finish the race, two of which ran out of gas (Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty). With the victory, Montoya and Dodge snapped Chevrolet's four-year winning run at Sonoma. Robby Gordon led twice for a race-high 48 laps and finished 16th.

Jeff Gordon continued Chevrolet's dominance of this race, as he won for the fifth time at Infineon Raceway in 2006. Gordon reclaimed the lead on lap 88, and the held it for the rest of the way to edge Ryan Newman by 1.250 seconds. Gordon led twice for a total of 44 laps, as he won for the 74th time in his Sprint Cup career. Pole sitter Kurt Busch finished fifth after leading the first 29 laps. Gordon's win total now stands at 85.

Gordon is a road-course warrior with nine wins (five at Infineon and four at Watkins Glen). In 19 career starts at Infineon, Gordon has 12 top fives, 15 top-10s and five poles. Gordon has led the most laps there with 437, almost three times the total of Robby Gordon (158), who has led the second most. Gordon's average finish at this track is 8.68.

In 2005, Tony Stewart crossed the finish line 2.266 seconds ahead of Ricky Rudd to capture his 20th career Sprint Cup title. Before an estimated 100,000 in attendance, Stewart reclaimed the lead on lap 100 of the 110-lap event to edge Rudd. Pole sitter Jeff Gordon, who led the first 32 laps, finished 33rd. Stewart led for a total of 39 laps. Stewart also captured this race in 2000 and has an average finish of 11.538 and has seven road-course wins.

In 1968, a twisting 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course and a quarter-mile drag strip were carved into the picturesque rolling hills at the gateway to the Sonoma Wine Country. Whether its amateur or professional SCCA road races, AMA and AFM motorcycle racing, exotic sports cars, vintage cars or the raw power of NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR Trucks and NHRA drag races, Infineon Raceway has played host to some of the racing world's top events and its greatest moments. Racing legends such as Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Dan Gurney, Kenny Roberts, Shirley Muldowney, Dale Earnhardt and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, as well as modern day stars including Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, have all left their indelible marks at this unique and historic facility. Infineon is arguably the world's busiest racing facility, with track activity scheduled an average of 340 days a year. It is the nation's only high-performance automotive industrial park.

Dale Earnhardt, who tragically died during a last-lap accident in the 2001 Daytona 500, meant the world to so many people, and the fans of Northern California were no different. To that end, Infineon Raceway honored the seven- time NASCAR Cup champion by naming the first completed project in its $35 million Modernization Plan after Earnhardt. The Turn 2 Hillside Terrace seats is known as the "Earnhardt Terrace." The entrance into the Earnhardt Terrace features a four-foot high monument for fans as a testament to the greatest driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. A black granite plaque at the top of the monument bears the familiar No.3. A second plaque on the side has the words "Earnhardt Terrace" engraved. The area also has a flag pole with the No.3 waving at the top. The monument will sit on a concrete platform overlooking sweeping views of the raceway and the surrounding Sonoma Valley. The monument is made of the same split-face concrete block that has been used to construct the 34,000 Hillside Terrace Seats above Turns 2-4 on the road course. Infineon Raceway was the site of the only NASCAR Sprint Cup road-course victory of Earnhardt's career in 1995.

Fresh off his win last week, Dale Earnhardt Jr is seeking his first win at Infineon Raceway. In fact, Earnhardt has never cracked the top-10 in 12 starts, with his best finish 11th on three separate occasions.

The pole sitter has won this race five times in the 23-year history of this event. In fact, 17 of the 23 races have been won from the top-10. When Montoya captured the 2007 race, he came from the 32nd starting position, the furthest a driver has started and gone on to capture the checkered flag.

Former Major League Baseball manager Tony LaRussa will be the Grand Marshal this year and will call the drivers to start their engines.

The next Sprint Cup Series is the June 30th running of the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, where Kyle Busch is the defending champion.

06/19 18:33:44 ET

As of June 19, 2012, at 06:34 PM ET

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