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Former open-wheelers have a tough day in California

Former open-wheelers have a tough day in California

The rain-delayed Auto Club 500 was a learning experience for the open-wheel contingent.
Juan Pablo Montoya, last year's top NASCAR rookie, finished 20th, while fellow former open-wheel stars Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr. had considerably less success. Patrick Carpentier didn't even get a chance to make the race when qualifying was rained out on Friday.
Franchitti never ran among the leaders and wound up two laps down in 32nd, while Hornish had even less luck, getting crashed out shortly after Sunday's rain-delayed start. He finished last in the 43-car field.
"It started pretty bad, but we got it better," Montoya said. "Today, we got pretty good and before the last stop I hit the wall coming in, in the middle of (turns) three and four. I guess I knocked the toe-out and I went from running 11th to 20th."
Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Franchitti viewed it as another stock car learning experience.
"I learned a lot," he said. "We went through a lot of different conditions between last night and today and I'm just getting used to driving the car and racing the cars as well.
"You know, we were looking good for a top 30 there and we think we dropped a valve with five (laps) to go. That was unfortunate."
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NICE REBOUND: A week after winning the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman added a 10th-place finish at Fontana.
That left Newman second to Kyle Busch, Monday's fourth-place finisher, in the season standings, trailing by six points as NASCAR's Sprint Cup series heads for Las Vegas next Sunday.
"The car was just OK," Newman said. "At times we were a seventh-place car and, at other times, we were a 15th-place car. If you average it out, I think we did a little bit better than we could have."
Tenth was exactly where Newman's Penske Racing Dodge was late Sunday when NASCAR decided to postpone the conclusion of the race following an unsuccessful five-hour attempt to dry the two-mile (3.2-kilometer) Auto Club Speedway.
They had run 87 of 250 schedule laps to that point.
"Our car just held it's own. We spent an extra day and an extra 168 laps and ended up in the same spot, so it's all right," Newman added.
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MOVING UP: Robby Gordon's 18th-place finish got his team heading in the right direction in the points, despite facing a 100-point loss if his appeal is denied by the National Stock Car Commission.
Gordon was hit with the points penalty and his crew chief, Frank Kerr, was fined $100,000 (euro67,500) and suspended for six races for having an unapproved bumper cover on their new Dodge when it was presented for the opening inspection at Daytona.
That knocked Gordon's No. 7 Charger from ninth to 40th in the points last week. But Monday's performance moved him back into the coveted top 35 in car owner points in 32nd.
"We're going to get our points back," Gordon said. "I think that's the most important thing. It brings us to 32nd right now, but that's still not representative of where our car is running.
"Our car is a top-15 car. With the 100 points, we would probably be sitting here around 12th, so I'm looking at that more than anything."


Updated : 2021-04-23 11:21 GMT+08:00