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Johnson wins after Ambrose's late gaffe

| June 21, 2010 9:00 PM

NASCAR

Marcos Ambrose had his first career Sprint Cup Series victory in sight when a late caution threw a roadblock into his path.

Then his own bizarre gaffe cost him the win.

Ambrose stalled his engine while trying to conserve gas late in Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., where his car came to a stop while leading with six laps remaining. He restarted and tried to re-claim his position at the front of the field, but NASCAR ordered him back to seventh place and Jimmie Johnson inherited the lead.

Johnson then cruised to his first career road course win, while Ambrose had to settle for a disappointing sixth-place finish.

"My bad," the Australian said. "I'm disappointed. It's NASCAR's house and I'll always play by the rules. I don't agree with it, I don't like it and that's only because I lost the race because of it.

"I had the motor turned off trying to save a bit of fuel and just had trouble getting it fired again. That's it."

It was yet another cruel defeat for Ambrose, a road racing ace who has fallen short of victory several times in NASCAR because of various reasons.

He was spun by Robby Gordon while leading the Nationwide Series race at Montreal in 2007, and last year was passed by Carl Edwards in the final turn at the same track. Although he has two career Nationwide wins on the road course at Watkins Glen, he's winless in the Cup Series despite three top-three finishes in five career road course races.

"I feel bad for him," Johnson said. "It was definitely a gift kind of handed to us."

The four-time defending series champion won for the fourth time this season, but first since Bristol in March - a 10-race drought that had many wondering why Johnson was "slumping."

Aside from ending the slump, Johnson more importantly added a road course victory to his resume and knocked Sonoma off the list of five active Cup tracks where he had never been to Victory Lane.

But road course racing has never been his strength in NASCAR. He went into Sunday's race with an average finish of 17th at Sonoma, which caused him to enter two Grand-Am races this season in an attempt to gain extra practice at making right and left turns.

"I'd say the bottom line to it is I love road course racing. I always have. I grew up racing off-road trucks, made a name for myself in that style of racing," he said. "To come into the Cup Series and not have success early irritated me. That's why today is so special to us, why it has meant so much."

Robby Gordon finished second in a Toyota for his highest finish of the season, and series points leader Kevin Harvick was third in a Chevrolet. Defending race winner Kasey Kahne finished fourth in a Ford and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.

Biffle was seventh and was followed by Boris Said, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya.

At Infineon Raceway

Sonoma, Calif.

Lap length: 1.99 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (2) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 110 laps, 148 rating, 195 points, $326,153.

2. (16) Robby Gordon, Toyota, 110, 97.8, 170, $215,648.

3. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 110, 114.3, 165, $191,751.

4. (1) Kasey Kahne, Ford, 110, 103.7, 160, $171,615.

5. (5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 110, 115.6, 155, $150,776.

6. (6) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 110, 126, 155, $140,898.

7. (9) Greg Biffle, Ford, 110, 87, 146, $108,050.

8. (17) Boris Said, Ford, 110, 95.8, 147, $108,850.

9. (7) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 110, 95.9, 143, $127,823.

10. (14) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 110, 100.6, 134, $126,781.

11. (24) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 110, 67, 130, $95,750.

12. (32) Jan Magnussen, Chevrolet, 110, 70.9, 127, $92,500.

13. (15) A J Allmendinger, Ford, 110, 79.5, 124, $124,151.

14. (11) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 110, 74.1, 121, $101,000.

15. (25) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 110, 75.3, 118, $118,979.

16. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 110, 83.9, 115, $116,929.

17. (21) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 110, 79.6, 117, $90,425.

18. (23) Scott Speed, Toyota, 110, 72.1, 109, $96,348.

19. (26) David Gilliland, Ford, 110, 65.9, 106, $100,460.

20. (33) David Reutimann, Toyota, 110, 54.7, 103, $111,431.

21. (38) Mattias Ekstrom, Toyota, 110, 79.6, 105, $118,023.

22. (18) Paul Menard, Ford, 110, 53, 97, $87,925.

23. (8) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 110, 69.1, 94, $80,300.

24. (40) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 110, 46.7, 91, $90,473.

25. (42) David Ragan, Ford, 110, 50, 88, $86,275.

26. (37) J.J. Yeley, Dodge, 110, 41.3, 85, $73,900.

27. (30) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 110, 81.3, 82, $112,340.

28. (41) Kevin Conway, Ford, 110, 34.6, 79, $77,275.

29. (19) Carl Edwards, Ford, 110, 68.7, 76, $108,473.

30. (34) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 110, 56.3, 73, $120,376.

31. (22) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 110, 68.4, 75, $80,350.

32. (3) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 110, 92.8, 67, $119,253.

33. (20) Joey Logano, Toyota, 108, 46.3, 64, $109,260.

34. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 103, 48.1, 61, $91,755.

35. (36) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, accident, 102, 50, 58, $98,580.

36. (39) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 93, 33.4, 55, $79,710.

37. (43) Dave Blaney, Toyota, rear gear, 86, 34.1, 52, $71,575.

38. (31) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 86, 31, 49, $79,460.

39. (27) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 76, 38, 46, $119,406.

40. (28) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, clutch, 71, 29.7, 43, $71,200.

41. (35) P.J. Jones, Toyota, electrical, 68, 26.4, 40, $71,025.

42. (10) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, accident, 66, 84.6, 42, $70,930.

43. (29) Max Papis, Toyota, accident, 65, 36.1, 34, $71,296.

Top 12 in Points: 1. K.Harvick, 2,334; 2. J.Johnson, 2,194; 3. Ky.Busch, 2,193; 4. D.Hamlin, 2,183; 5. J.Gordon, 2,142; 6. Ku.Busch, 2,118; 7. M.Kenseth, 2,092; 8. J.Burton, 2,027; 9. G.Biffle, 2,011; 10. T.Stewart, 1,983; 11. M.Martin, 1,947; 12. C.Edwards, 1,932.

Tony Kanaan went to bed Saturday night in a foul mood after qualifying 15th at a track that's brought him nothing but frustration.

He woke on Sunday determined not to let his shaky past at the Iowa Speedway or anywhere else dictate how he ran the Iowa 250.

Kanaan overtook fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves with 10 laps left and held on to win at Iowa on Sunday in Newton, Iowa, erasing three crash-filled years of history at the speedy short oval.

It was the first win since 2008 for Kanaan, who last took the checkered flag in Richmond two years ago. Kanaan ran into contact in each of his first three starts at Iowa, but he zipped past Castroneves on lap 240 and cruised to victory by over four seconds.

"I've had three years to think about why I didn't finish. When I came here people kept reminding me of that," said Kanaan, who led for 62 laps. "I never finished, and then I finished. I finished first, so know we have a different story."

Castroneves finished second and E.J. Viso was a career-best third. Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and pole winner Will Power rounded out the top five.

Danica Patrick, in her final race before resuming her split IRL/Nationwide schedule, finished 10th. Dario Franchitti, a two-time winner in Iowa, had mechanical issues with 50 laps left and finished 18th, losing his points lead to Power in the process.

At Iowa Speedway

Newton, Iowa

Lap length: 0.894-mile

(Starting position in parentheses)

All cars Dallara chassis, Honda engine

1. (15) Tony Kanaan, 250 laps.

2. (4) Helio Castroneves, 250.

3. (19) EJ Viso, 250.

4. (8) Ryan Briscoe, 250.

5. (1) Will Power, 250.

6. (2) Scott Dixon, 250.

7. (13) Vitor Meira, 250.

8. (12) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 249.

9. (17) Graham Rahal, 249.

10. (9) Danica Patrick, 249.

11. (10) Dan Wheldon, 249.

12. (6) Alex Tagliani, 248.

13. (14) Alex Lloyd, 248.

14. (21) Raphael Matos, 247.

15. (3) Marco Andretti, 244.

16. (23) Mario Romancini, 244.

17. (22) Bertrand Baguette, 237.

18. (5) Dario Franchitti, 212.

19. (7) Takuma Sato, 177, contact

20. (24) Hideki Mutoh, 131, handling

21. (20) Simona de Silvestro, 128, handling

22. (18) Sarah Fisher, 92, contact

23. (25) Milka Duno, 31, handling

24. (11) Justin Wilson, 0, contact

25. (16) Mario Moraes, 0, contact

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 1 hour, 42 minutes, 12.4036 seconds.

Winners average speed: 131.205 mph.

Margin of victory: 4.2030 seconds.

Cautions: 4 for 51 laps.

Lead changes: 16 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Power 1-32, Andretti 33-44, Franchitti 45-54, Rahal 55-65, Franchitti 66-67, Dixon 68-85, Franchitti 86-112, Dixon 113-115, Franchitti 116-119, Kanaan 120-135, Franchitti 136-145, Kanaan 146-180, Franchitti 181-195, Castroneves 196-198, Franchitti 199, Castroneves 200-239, Kanaan 240-250.

Point Standings: Power 274, Dixon 263, Franchitti 258, Castroneves 251, Briscoe 240, Kanaan 229, Hunter-Reay 225, Wilson 191, Andretti 184, Wheldon 183.

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