KASEY KAHNE/No.9 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge survived the Green-White-Checkered flag scenario in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway Sunday to take the win by 0.748 seconds ahead of points leader, TONY STEWART/No.14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet. This was Kahne’s first road course victory. He led twice and the most laps.

Third was Aussie MARCOS AMBROSE/No.47 JTG Daughtery Motorsports Toyota, who qualified third, but had to start at the back due to an engine change. “We would have loved to have won, but after the problems yesterday, it feels like a win. We went from zero to hero.” He attributed his overcoming his back pack start to being mad and angry. “We tried a strategy which was a little odd ball and it worked out in our favor.” In a word, he was “hot, mad, happy, sad, all together.” He earned the Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race Award.

This was the first trip to Victory Circle in ten years for team owner, ‘The King’ RICHARD PETTY. He said it was a “picture perfect day. When everything goes right it’s your day. And that’s what it was today. Probably the best race we’ve been to for all four cars. This is win Number One. Now we have to figure out what we did right and do it again next week. We definitely now have enough money to get to the next race.”

Petty thought the Double File Restarts were good for the fans.

Petty admitted to having a “sip of wine” in Victory Circle…and also copped to a extended wine tasting in a cave a couple of nights before the race, saying that’s why he enjoys coming to Sonoma.

The estimated race attendance was 93,500 – down from last year’s 100,000, but good considering the state of the economy in California and the Bay Area.

Stewart stretched his points lead to 84 ahead of JEFF GORDON/No.24 Hendrick Motorsports, who finished ninth after starting thirteenth. The owner/driver was complimentary of Kahne who bested him in the 113-lap race. “I was just a little too loose in the right handers and Kasey never made a mistake. The kid did an awesome job. He ran a perfect race.”

The seven Double File Restarts accomplished at least one goal – entertainment for the fans. The word I heard most from the drivers after the race was “crazy” along with “nuts”, “awesome”, “intense” and “fun”. And drivers seemed to appreciate restarting with drivers around them, not further back in the pack.

Kahne said the new DFR “worked out really good for us.” He admitted he didn’t remember the last restart, when he was in the lead. He kept telling himself “Don’t spin the tires. If I was going slow, I didn’t notice.”

So much for road racing ringers. The top ten finishers were regular left hand drivers.

PATRICK CARPENTIER/No.55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota was the top non-regular driver, in eleventh place – his best-ever Cup result. The open wheel road racer emigrated to NASCAR last year, and this weekend was racing for team owner/driver, MICHAEL WALTRIP, and hopes to do so again at Watkins Glen.

Carpentier had a yo-yo day, starting thirty-eighth, charging up to seventeenth, then spinning out,  and charging back up front. He endured getting hit and pushed, and was sorry for pushing CASEY MEARS/No.07 Chevrolet, who had pushed him a couple of times. Mears finished twenty-third. Carpentier also got bumped around on restarts. The car was pretty banged up after the race. But, it was smiles all around. He prefers ovals and will race four for TOMMY BALDWIN – Loudon next weekend, and then Daytona, Richmond and Pocono.

Carpentier said during the DFR, “I always saw smoke and dust in the cockpit. I hope the fans enjoyed it.”

Twelfth place finisher, MAX PAPIS/No.13 Toyota was the top Rookie. He’s scheduled to run fifteen selected Cup races this season.

Kahne’s teammate, A.J. ALLMENDINGER/No.44 Dodge, is another open wheel driver turning to NASCAR and also had an up and down day, starting twentieth and finishing seventh. He said it was a dog fight getting back into the field after some agricultural racing, a speeding ticket, and his shares of lumps and bumps. A.J.’s right rear was going down and he had brake trouble at the end.  He wasn’t sure the DFR helped him, but hoped the fans loved it. If they did, then they were good. For him it was a bottleneck going into Turn One, with everyone slamming front and back. If he wasn’t in the first two rows, it was just a roll of the dice, and he was wrong 80 percent of the time. And he certainly didn’t want the Green-White-Checkered flag finish.

Thirty-nine drivers finished, and all but three were on the lead lap. The race ran 3 hrs and 10 mins, which included 20 laps for seven cautions. The average race speed was 71.012 mph. There were ten lead changes among eight drivers.

NASCAR impounds the first and second place finishers plus a random car, to be taken to the NASCAR R&D Center in North Carolina for tear down. This weekend it will be No.9, No.14 and the No.96 Ford driven by BOBBY LABONTE.

After the 113-lap Cup race began the second race – to get packed up and on the road to the shops in North Carolina and the next race in Loudon.