Sonoma Raceway hosted the 26th annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday. The race saw some good close racing along with plenty of door banging action along the 10 turn road course. Carl Edwards and his number 99 Aflac Ford Fusion were able hold back 4-time Sprint Cup Champion and 5 time Toyota/Save Mart 350 winner Jeff Gordon and NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. to capture the checkered flag. Edwards took the lead with 26 laps remaining and never relinquished it. This was Edwards’ first ever win on a road course. Gordon and his Panasonic number 24 team fought hard to catch Edwards but would fall about a half second back after a last ditch effort on the last turn of the race. As for Earnhardt Jr. and his Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, they made a strong run at the end of the race, passing 11 cars in the last 30 laps. This was Earnhardt’s best ever finish on the road course in Sonoma.
“I had an eventful race, and I tore Matt Kenseth’s car up pretty bad there coming out of turn 7,” said Earnhardt, in regards to an on track battle for position which knocked Kenseth out of the race and to a 42nd place finish.
Earnhardt Jr. later said “he (Kenseth) probably had the preferred line and I probably should have yielded to him but I thought I was a little bit faster than him and I didn’t want to get stuck behind him. I straddled a curb, and it just lost my car in the air right into his car.”
Kenseth made hard contact with the tire barrier, literally ripping the nose of the car along with the radiator off. Kenseth was checked and released from the infield care center with no injuries. Later on in the event Earnhardt would again be involved in an incident but this time he got tangled up with the number 47 of AJ Allmendinger coming down the front straight. Earnhardt said “He wheel hopped my left rear tire and that spun him out.” Allmendinger would finish in the 37th position. Minus the two incidents, Earnhardt had a great day on a road course.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to their next event next week in Kentucky for the Quaker State 400, followed by the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.