Tony Stewart held off Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson in the final laps and won Sunday’s Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Stewart also gained five spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship standings and secured the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Cup for Chevrolet for the 34th time since the inception of the award in 1950.
“We’re doing everything we can do. We’re going to need some help, but we’re doing everything we can do. I’m proud of these guys, and just so thankful. Thank Hendrick Engines and Chassis, and everybody at Stewart Haas, they refuse to give up, they refuse to back down.” Stewart said.
Bowyer and Johnson both contended for the win but the No. 33 outdid the champion’s car on the final lap to finish second. “I didn’t need that caution to come out there. That piece of debris was back there the whole run, but finally a mysterious caution came out. Tony just beat us there at the end. The Hartford Chevrolet was good. It was a good day for us. We will regroup and hopefully get us another win.” Bowyer said.
“I think if it had stayed green at the end, we had a shot to get the No. 14, But it didn’t turn out that way, there was a caution at the end with that wreck. Starting on the inside was kind of a problem for me. I just didn’t get going like I needed to. The No. 33 got there.” Johnson said. “One race down, still in the points lead, but a lot of racing left.” Johnson added.
Jeff Gordon was running in second place until he pitted during a caution flag. He was too fast on pit road and restarted the race in 24th place. The final caution flag allowed Gordon to pit for tires with the rest of the cars in the mid pack which helped him pass a bunch of cars in a short period allowing him into the top-10 before the race ended. Gordon finished in 9th place.
“It wasn’t the kind of day we were hoping for. Things are going pretty well for us and we’re hanging in there but honestly I think we were anywhere from a third to a fifth-place car, so to come home ninth, there’s no doubt, we need to get better. There’s no doubt. We’ve got to get better.” Gordon said.
Other chase drivers didn’t fair so well. Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards all had engine trouble. Matt Kenseth who was also having engine trouble, nursed his car to a disappointing 30th. Kurt Busch was involved in an accident with David Regan and finsihed a disappointing 21st.
“It’s unfortunate for us,” he said. “This was our opportunity to get back in the Chase and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. It’s disappointing, but what can you do? It broke. Everybody is giving this program 110 percent, so you can’t blame anybody. We were trying hard to win the title and it isn’t going to happen this year.”
After his engine blew, Busch said his championship chances were over. “On to another year. It’s over.” Busch said from the garage while the race was still underway.
Unofficial Race Results
Pepsi Max 400 October 10, 2010 – Race 30 of 36
|15||37||77||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||118||0||200||Running|
|16||9||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||120||5||200||Running|
|18||6||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||109||0||200||Running|
|31||41||7||Kevin Conway *||Toyota||70||0||197||Running|
|37||35||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||52||0||69||In Pit|
|38||43||9||Bobby Labonte||Chevrolet||49||0||56||In Pit|
|39||28||46||Michael McDowell||Chevrolet||46||0||55||In Pit|
|40||36||164||Landon Cassill||Toyota||43||0||43||In Pit|
|42||31||36||J.J. Yeley||Chevrolet||37||0||33||In Pit|