2010 Pepsi Max 400
|Race 30 of 36 in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||October 10, 2010|
|Location||Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.0 mi (3.23 km)
|Distance||200 laps, 400 mi (643.737 km)|
|Weather||Sunny with a daytime high around 88; wind out of the NNE at 7 mph.|
|Average speed||131.953 miles per hour (212.358 km/h)|
|Driver||Jamie McMurray||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Mark Martin||Hendrick Motorsports|
||Stewart Haas Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree|
The 2010 Pepsi Max 400 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race that was held on October 10, 2010 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Contested over 200 laps, it was the thirtieth, and the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The race was won by Tony Stewart, for the Stewart Haas Racing team. Clint Bowyer finished second, and Jimmie Johnson, who started eighth, clinched third.
Pole position driver Jamie McMurray maintained his lead on the first lap to begin the race, as Elliott Sadler, who started in the second position on the grid, remained behind him. Eighteen laps later Johnson became the leader of the race. Some of the Chase for the Sprint Cup participants, such as, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle were not able to finish in the top-ten after part failures. After the final pit stops, Tony Stewart remained the leader of the race, ahead of Johnson and Bowyer, but with less than two laps remaining, Bowyer passed Johnson. Stewart maintained the first position to win his second race of the season.
There were nine cautions and twenty-four lead changes among fourteen different drivers throughout the course of the race. It was Stewart's second win in the 2010 season, and the thirty-ninth of his career. The result moved him up to fifth in the Drivers' Championship, 107 points behind Jimmie Johnson and fifty-one ahead of Kurt Busch. Chevrolet maintained its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship, forty-one ahead of Toyota and seventy-nine ahead of Ford, with six races remaining in the season.
The track, Auto Club Speedway, is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. The standard track at Auto Club Speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2 miles (3.2 km) long. The track's turns are banked at fourteen degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at eleven degrees. The back stretch has 3 degrees of banking. The racetrack has seats for 92,100 spectators.
Before the race, Jimmie Johnson led the Drivers' Championship with 5,503 points, and Denny Hamlin stood in second with 5,495 points. Kevin Harvick was third in the Drivers' Championship with 5,473 points, twenty-three ahead of Carl Edwards and twenty-eight ahead of Jeff Gordon in fourth and fifth. Kurt Busch with 5,433 was ten points ahead of Kyle Busch, as Greg Biffle with 5,418 points, was sixteen ahead of Jeff Burton, and forty-two in front of Tony Stewart. Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer was eleventh and twelfth with 5,354 and 5,251 points. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet was leading with 212 points, thirty-seven points ahead of their rival Toyota. Ford, with 135 points, was nineteen points ahead of Dodge in the battle for third. Jimmie Johnson is the race's defending champion.
Practice and qualifying
Three practice sessions was held before the Sunday race—one on Friday, and two on Saturday. The first session lasted 90 minutes, while the second session lasted 45 minutes. The third and final session will last 65 minutes. During the first practice session, Jamie McMurray, for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team, was quickest ahead of A. J. Allmendinger in second and Greg Biffle in the third position. Kyle Busch was scored fourth, and Mark Martin managed fifth. Juan Pablo Montoya, David Ragan, Martin Truex, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top ten quickest drivers in the session.
Afterward, during qualifying, forty-five cars were entered, but only forty-three was able because of NASCAR's qualifying procedure. Jamie McMurray clinched his second pole position during the 2010 season, with a time of 38.859. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Sadler. Matt Kenseth qualified third, Juan Pablo Montoya took fourth, and Kasey Kahne started fifth. Kevin Harvick, one of the drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, qualified twenty-first, while Denny Hamlin was scored thirty-fourth. The two drivers that failed to qualify for the race were Mike Bliss and Patrick Carpentier. Once qualifying concluded, McMurray stated, "I think the ECR engines have a lot of power, and you're able to show that on Friday more than even in the race, because you're really able to put the power down in qualifying. A little bit is cars, a little bit is engines, a little bit is the team putting maybe a little more focus – our guys work really hard, not necessarily on the qualifying setup, but everything that goes into qualifying, making the cars as light as you can and so many little tricks that you're able to do. Not all the teams do that to the fullest level."
On the next morning, Biffle was quickest in the second practice session, ahead of Kenseth and David Reutimann in second and third. McMurray was fourth quickest, and Jeff Gordon took fifth. Hamin, Allmendinger, Martin, Kahne, and Tony Stewart followed in the top-ten. Other drivers in the chase, such as Johnson, was twenty-third, and Kurt Busch, who was thirty-second. During the third, and final practice session, Johnson, with a fastest time of 40.092, was quickest. Jefff Gordon and Jamie McMurray followed in second and third with times of 40.098 and 40.114 seconds. Biffle managed to be fourth fastest, ahead of Kevin Harvick and Klye Busch. Mark Martin was scored seventh, Kasey Kahne took eighth, Denny Hamlin was ninth, and Kenseth took tenth.
The race, the thirtieth out of a total of thirty-six in the season, began at 3:00 p.m. EDT and was televised live in the United States on ESPN. Prior to the race, weather conditions were sunny with the air temperature around 81 °F (27 °C). Jeff Hamilton and Motor Racing Outreach began pre-race ceremonies, by giving the invocation. Next, Kenny Loggins performed the national anthem, and Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for Governor of California, gave the command for drivers to start their engines. On the pace laps, Denny Hamlin had to move the rear of the grid because of a transmission change.
Jamie McMurray accelerated faster than Elliott Sadler off the line, getting ahead of him down the front straightaway. Matt Kenseth took over second, as Sadler fell to fifth. Juan Montoya passed Kenseth for second on the second lap. Sadler continued to lose positions, while Jimmie Johnson passed Kasey Kahne for the fourth position, after starting eighth. Clint Bowyer gained five positions to eight by lap five. After starting from the rear of the grid, Hamlin had moved to twenty-seventh in six laps. On lap 7, the frontrunners included McMurray in first, ahead of Montoya, Kenseth, and Jonhson. Two laps later, Montoya collided with the wall, resulting him to fall to fourth. Bowyer moved to tenth, after passing Greg Biffle on lap 10. Hamlin continued to moved toward the front, passing both Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards for twenty-fifth. Kenseth took the lead ahead of McMurray, becoming the second leader of the race.
On lap 19, Johnson passed McMurray for the second position. In less than twenty laps, Kyle Busch had moved to tenth, after starting sixteenth. Mark Martin took over seventh, ahead of Biffle, as David Reutimann passed Joey Logano. Regan Smith gained six positions to move into thirteenth by lap 22. By lap 24, Kenseth had a one second lead over second placer Johnson. Bowyer overtook Sadler for fourth two laps later. On lap 27, Bowyer moved into third, ahead of McMurray. On the following lap, Hamlin moved into twenty-second, after beginning the race in forty-second. Jeff Gordon had been as high as fifth on the grid, but after 29 laps, he fell to seventh. McMurray had fallen to seventh by lap 31, after starting in the pole position. On lap 33, Bobby Labonte drove to the garage for transmission repairs. Hamlin moved into twentieth, ahead of Logano one lap later. On the same lap, Martin passed Sadler for fourth. On lap 35, Gordon took over the fifth position.
Kenseth pitted on lap 37, giving the lead to Jimmie Johnson. Johnson pitted on the following lap for four new tires. After the pit stops, Kenseth was the leader, ahead of Bowyer and Johnson in second and third. On lap 40, Kenseth's lead over Bowyer reduced to nothing, as the caution was given because Biffle's engine failed. During the caution most of the front runners did not pit, but Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick pitted for two tires. Kenseth fell to third on the restart, after Gordon and Johnson passed him. On the following lap, Johnson took over the first position, after passing Gordon. On lap 49, Hamlin moved to fourteenth, as Kyle Busch moved into second. Brad Keselowski collided into the wall on lap 51. On the same lap, Martin moved into to third.
The second caution was given on lap 54, after Marcos Ambrose spun sideways in the second corner. The front runners pitted during the caution, but Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did not which resulting in him being the leader. On the restart, Earnhardt led Johnson, Martin and Kyle Busch, but Busch immediately passed them all to become the leader. Also on the restart, Edwards' car stalled, prompting the third caution of the race. During the caution a safety vehicle pushed Edwards' car to the garage for repairs. Busch led Johnson on the restart, but before the lap was over, Johnson reclaimed the lead. Three laps later, Jeff Gordon took over the second position, after passing Busch. By lap 68, Busch had fallen three positions to fifth. On the following lap, Martin passed Gordon for the second position.
On lap 72, Edwards returned to the race, fourteen laps behind. One lap later, Martin became the leader, ahead of Johnson. Kenseth moved to sixth on the seventy-fourth lap, after falling to tenth earlier in the race. Stewart took over the eighth position behind Ryan Newman on lap 78. Kenseth managed to pass Busch for fifth on the following lap. Harvick moved into the eighth position, after passing Newman on lap 82. Eight laps later, Earnhardt, Jr. drove to pit road for tires and fuel. Meanwhile, Stewart was able to pass Kenseth for fifth. Afterward, Busch fell two positions to ninth, after Harvick and Newman passed him. Hamlin and Jeff Burton pitted on the following lap, two laps ahead of Stewart and Bowyer. On lap 97, the rest of the frontrunners pitted, giving the lead to David Gilliland. One lap later, pit stops concluded, as Martin reclaimed the lead, ahead of Johnson, Gordon, Bowyer, and Stewart. Also during the pit stops, Harvick received a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit road.
On lap 102, Martin Truex, Jr. passed Newman for the ninth position. Reutimann passed Kyle Busch for seventh, two laps later. On the following lap, Gordon passed Johnson for second, while Martin had a five second lead. Reutimann took sixth shortly after Gordon passed Johnson. Truex passed Busch for eighth on lap 110. Three laps later, Truex took over seventh, as Martin's lead of five second reduced to nothing, after debris caused the fourth caution. During pit stops, Gordon claimed the lead, as Martin fell to sixth. The restart happened on lap 119, with Gordon the leader. After restarting fourth, Bowyer had passed Truex and Stewart to clinch second. On lap 123, Martin had moved up three positions to third, after the recent caution. Afterward, Bowyer moved to the first position, while Martin claimed second. Stewart passed Gordon for third, on lap 131. Hamlin took over fifth four laps later.
On lap 137, the fifth caution was given because Ambrose spun for the second time during the race. All the front runners pitted under the caution. Bowyer led on the restart, one lap after Travis Kvapil gave up the lead to pit. Four laps after the restart, debris prompted the sixth caution of the race. The front runners did not pit during the caution, which resulted in Bowyer maintaining the lead. On lap 1489, Stewart became the leader. Five laps later, Newman took over second, as the seven caution was given because Kyle Busch's engine failed. Travis Kvapil stayed out to lead a lap when the front runners pitted, but on the restart Montoya was the leader. On the restart, Stewart reclaimed the lead. On the following lap, Bowyer passed Montoya for the second position, two laps before Martin claimed third. Montoya continued to fall backwards, as Newman passed him for fourth. On lap 168, Bowyer reclaimed the lead.
On the following two laps after the lead change, Hamlin dropped to the ninth position, after Kahne and Montoya passed him. On lap 172, Johnson passed Newman for fourth, while Martin claimed second. By lap 178, Bowyer had a one-half second lead over second place. Three laps later, Johnson took over third, after passing Stewart. On lap 183, debris prompted the eighth caution to be given. Paul Menard and Regan Smith were the two leaders on the restart. Smith was able to become the leader one lap later, but after leading one lap, Stewart reclaimed the lead. On the following lap, Kahne moved to the second position, as Bowyer clinched fourth. On lap 192, Johnson moved to second, while Smith fell to ninth after the restart. Two laps later, Kurt Busch and David Ragan collided, prompting the final caution to be given. With two laps remaining Stewart led on the restart ahead of Johnson and Bowyer. Stewart crossed the finish line on lap 200 to take his second win of the season, less than a second ahead of Bowyer. Johnson was third, ahead of Kahne, Newman, Mark Martin, Harvick and Hamlin. Jeff Gordon, who struggled with a drive through penalty late in the race, took ninth on the line, ahead of Reutimann.
Standings after the race
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