When MPG Really Mattered: Toyota/Save Mart 350

Article by Ė John R. Andres, SMM Editor-in-Chief

Photography by Deborah Hepper/SMM Senior Editor & John R. Andres

Infineon Raceway – SONOMA, Calif., June 20, 2010 – It was the perfect weekend for a Toyota Prius salesmanÖthe perfect placeÖthe perfect timeÖand the perfect venue. After all, isn't MPG all that really matters?


Fuel economy and racecars usually don't occupy the same space in time but this weekend it was all that mattered for Andrew Ranger, the winner of Saturday's NASCAR K&N West Series race and Jimmie Johnson, the winner of Sunday's NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350. Neither one is in the market for the fuel sipping compact just yet but both won a race by keeping a close eye on the fuel gauge. It pays to be thrifty.


Ranger, a native of Quebec, made his first ever trip to Sonoma and was rewarded with a first place finish in his initial NASCAR K&N Series West attempt. Jason Bowles, the pole-sitter and the defending champ of the Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200, finished in 22nd position after he ran out of fuel less than 100 feet from the finish line. He was in second place at the time. When asked about Saturday's win, Ranger said, "This is the first time I've ever been to Infineon to race and it was worth all the time and effort just to get here. You can count on us being at Sonoma again next year."


NASCAR's edict to let the driver's police themselves was put to test for the first time on a road course this weekend. Since the beginning of the year there were numerous instances where things got out of hand and the tit for tat bumping, pushing and rubbing that took place on the oval tracks delighted the fans but concern for the safety of the drivers made one wonder if it was such a good idea after all. Surely things would heat up on the twists and turns of Sonoma's grueling road course. Those individuals who were looking for the mechanical carnage only NASCAR can produce were disappointed and the doomsayers were thwarted by the lack of unsportsmanlike conduct that usually precedes such monumental pileups, with the Jeff Gordon/MartinTruex Jr. flap on Lap 63 being the lone aberration in an otherwise cleanly run race. When the checkered flag was thrown, the drivers uttered a collective sigh of relief that could be heard above the din of the roaring crowd pushing its way toward the Winner's Circle.


Throughout the weekend, the action on the track was supplemented by the Speed Channel Fan Forum, driver meet and greets, and the endless possibilities that a fan might be able to catch a glimpse or perhaps even an autograph of his or her favorite driver. Roger Craig, the San Francisco 49er's favorite son was also on hand to serve as the event's Grand Marshal. This writer caught Craig alone in the Media Tent when he stopped by to grab a soft drink and he was asked what he thought about being at a NASCAR race for the first time. "I've wanted to come to one of these races to see what it's like and to actually take in the flavor of something I heard was pretty special. It's been an honor to serve as Grand Marshal. So far I've liked what I've seen."


Johnson's win on Sunday was the 51st of his career but more importantly, it was his first win on a road course. Up until the caution flag was thrown with 7 laps remaining, it appeared Marcos Ambrose was in control and it became apparent that if he was going to be the first to receive the checkered flag and take the win he needed to nurse his Toyota Camry along for an extra lap or two and ride out the caution, conserving every drop of fuel, even if it meant turning off the engine. This strategy had worked before but good luck didn't prevail this time when his engine stalled and Johnson took advantage of his misfortune to take the lead. Ambrose later finished a disappointing 6th overall.


During the post race interview, it was clear that Johnson conceded to the fact that he needed a mistake by one of the other drivers to occur before he had any chance of winning, especially since Ambrose had finished a strong third last year and posted the fastest time during practice a day earlier.


Like so many other times this season, Johnson's wins came at the expense of others, who either through a lapse of attention or mechanical failures, cleared the way for him to take the gold. Championships take a little talent and a lot of luck Ö Johnson has enough of both.



Race Statistics
Average speed: 74.4 mph
Margin of victory: 3.10 seconds
Time of race: 2:56:38
Lead changes: 12
Cautions: 7


NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 Top Ten
1) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2) Robbie Gordon, Toyota
3) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
4) Kasey Kahne, Ford
5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
6) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota
7) Greg Biffle, Ford
8) Boris Said, Ford
9) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet
10) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet



GONZALEZ PICKS UP SECOND E3 SPARK PLUGS NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES WIN OF THE SEASON AT SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT MOTORSPORTS PARK


NORWALK, Ohio ‚Äď After qualifying in the top spot to start the day at the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series driver Jose Gonzalez took home the win at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

The Norwalk event marked the fourth race of the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season, and with today’s victory, Gonzalez currently sits second in the points standings.¬†

His journey to the winner’s circle began when he defeated Alex Laughlin in the opening round. He then took down Mike Castellana in the quarterfinals and later Doug Winters in the semifinal round. It was his 5.723-second pass at 250.09 mph over points leader Brandon Snider.

Snider, the No. 7 seed, defeated Justin Jones, Lyle Barnett and Jerico Balduf en route to his first final round of the season.



The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service returns to action July 16-18 at the Dodge//SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. 

Final finish order (1-16) at the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. The race is the fourth of 12 events in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

PRO MODIFIED:

1. Jose Gonzalez
2. Brandon Snider
3. Jerico Balduf
4. Doug Winters
5. Justin Bond
6. Mike Castellana
7. Lyle Barnett
8. Jim Whiteley
9. Steve Jackson
10. Mike Salinas
11. Eric Latino
12. Justin Jones
13. Alex Laughlin
14. Jeffery Barker
15. Khalid alBalooshi
16. JR Gray.




Sunday's final results from the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. The race is the fourth of 12 events in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

Pro Modified:

Jose Gonzalez, Chevy Camaro, 5.723, 250.09 def. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.777, 248.84. 



Final round-by-round results from the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, the fourth of 12 events in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

PRO MODIFIED: 

ROUND ONE:

Jerico Balduf, Chevy Chevelle, 5.880, 244.92 def. Mike Salinas, Chevy Camaro, 5.909, 245.58; Doug Winters, Chevelle, 5.906, 245.76 def. Jeffery Barker, Toyota Camry, 6.057, 219.76; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.795, 248.48 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 5.931, 239.78; Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.858, 244.87 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.846, 247.79; Lyle Barnett, Camaro, 5.936, 243.50 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 6.628, 154.07; Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.829, 248.52 def. Justin Jones, Corvette, Foul - Red Light; Justin Bond, Camaro, 5.836, 247.88 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.913, 242.45; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.871, 245.23 def. JR Gray, Camaro, 6.712, 199.43;  QUARTERFINALS -- Winters, 5.923, 243.02 def. Whiteley, Foul - Red Light; Snider, 5.819, 247.97 def. Barnett, 6.248, 166.66; Gonzalez, 5.800, 246.89 def. Castellana, 5.847, 246.35; Balduf, 5.862, 244.25 def. Bond, 5.812, 248.66;  SEMIFINALS -- Snider, 5.794, 248.25 def. Balduf, 5.833, 246.21; Gonzalez, 5.752, 248.93 def. Winters, 5.922, 223.14;  FINAL -- Gonzalez, 5.723, 250.09 def. Snider, 5.777, 248.84. 




Point standings (top 10) following the 14th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, the fourth of 12 events in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

Pro Modified:

1. Justin Bond, 328
2. Jose Gonzalez, 322
3. Brandon Snider, 294
4. Steve Jackson, 254
5. Khalid alBalooshi, 204
6. Jeffery Barker, 192
7. Mike Castellana, 177
8. JR Gray, 169
9. Doug Winters, 164
10. Alex Laughlin, 147.

 

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