NASCAR Notes: Chevy The Top Manufacturer

CHEVY THUNDER: Tony Stewart (14) battles Clint Bowyer (33) for position as Mark Martin gives chase Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (HHP/Erik Perel Photo)
CHEVY THUNDER: Tony Stewart (14) battles Clint Bowyer (33) for position as Mark Martin gives chase Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (HHP/Erik Perel Photo)

FONTANTA, Calif. — Tony Stewart’s victory in Sunday’s Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway wrapped up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturer’s Cup for Chevrolet for the 34th time since the inception of the award in 1950.

Chevrolet first won the award in 1958 and this is the eighth-consecutive season the trophy will go to the Bowtie Brigade.

“Chevrolet is very proud of everyone who helped in achieving this championship — drivers and crew members and team owners, engineers and development teams, and all of the hard-working professionals who support and contribute to what we do,” said Jim Campbell, GM vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “Every year this series gets more and more competitive, and that only helps make this championship even more satisfying.”

Seven drivers have combined to win 16 races for Chevrolet this season, including Stewart, who has won twice.

– Jeff Gordon had a top-five effort in the making, but was busted for speeding on pitlane during the second half of the race. A stop for two tires prior to the green-white-checkered finish helped Gordon salvage a ninth-place finish.

“I got in the gas and drove around some guys and just stuffed it in a hole that I really didn’t even think was there and we were all playing bumper cars down the back straightaway,” Gordon explained of the final two laps. “It was pretty crazy. I kept hearing four or five wide and I just stayed in it. When we got into (turn) three they spread out and gave me a hole and I had the better tires and I just shot right through there.”

– Denny Hamlin finished eighth after starting 42nd, but felt he should have had a better result. Hamlin is second in the standings, 36 points behind Jimmie Johnson.

“I needed it to go green that last 20 laps. We were catching the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and those guys,” Hamlin explained. “I felt like we were going to finish third or fourth. Just got those restarts. That was our Achilles heel all day — we’d lose three or four spots every lap for the first couple and then we would make them back up. A little bit frustrated. All in all it’s a decent day.”

– John Middlebrook, the chief appellate officer for NASCAR’s National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel, upheld the point penalties against the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driven by Clint Bowyer, but has reduced other sanctions against the team.

Middlebrook ordered the reduction of the monetary penalty levied against the team from $150,000 to $100,000. He also lowered the suspensions of crew chief Shane Wilson and car chief Chad Haney from six races to four. Both are suspended from NASCAR until Nov. 3 and are on probation until Dec. 31.

The No. 33 team was penalized by NASCAR Sept. 22 as a result of rule infractions discovered during post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center following the Sept. 19 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.

– Kasey Kahne rallied to finish fourth Sunday, the best Ford finisher.

“We had been loose all day, but we were just a little bit tight there right at the end and those guys were a little better,” Kahne explained. “They turned a little better than I did getting to the center and could roll faster, but it was still a great day by the team. All of the guys on my Budweiser Ford Fusion did a nice job. We made some gains and it was actually nice. I felt like a driver again, so it was kind of cool.”

– Todd Berrier, crew chief for Jeff Burton, left the track Sunday morning suffering from dizziness. After being treated at a local hospital, Berrier rejoined his team during the early portion of Sunday’s race.

– Kyle Busch and David Reutimann met with NASCAR Cup Series Director John Darby Friday to discuss the incident at Kansas Speedway where the two were involved in a crash, which ended with Reutimann retaliating against Busch. Neither driver discussed the meeting publicly.