NorCal Drivers Racing Highlights: April 16-17, 2011

There was lots of action this last weekend with the NASCAR Sprint Cup & Nationwide Series competing at the Talladega Speedway as well as the K&N Pro Series in Roseville, the NHRA was at Myrtle Beach, the American Le Mans Series, and the Indy Cars were at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The World of Outlaws races were rained out.

Joey Hand from Sacramento, CA. Photo by Ken Barton.
Joey Hand from Sacramento, CA "NorCal Driver of the Week". Photo by Ken Barton.

Our selection for “NorCal Driver of the Week” goes to Joey Hand from Sacramento, CA competing in the American Le Mans Series race in Long Beach. Joey Hand in the BMW Team RLL BMW M3 GT with co-driver Dirk Mueller won for the second time this year. Off to a great start they are the early leaders in the GT Class points standings.

#56 BMW M3 GT2 driven by Sacramento Native Joey Hand. Photo courtesy of Ken Barton.
#56 BMW M3 GT2 driven by Sacramento Native Joey Hand. Photo courtesy of Ken Barton.

“If you don’t like ALMS GT racing, you don’t like racing,” Hand said of the thrilling GT race. “If I was a spectator, I’d love to see what is going on out there. At one point I was in third and Long was going to the inside of Gavin into a turn and I was thinking, ‘This isn’t going to work out for them.’ I race to put on a show for people watching at home, and I think that’s what we all did.”

J.R. Hildebrand from Sausalito struggled a little in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach but it was great to see him battle clear to the last lap. J.R. was able to keep ahead of Mike Conway and stay on the lead lap and finish in the 17th position. He dropped 3 spots to 16th in the points standings but actually increased his lead in the rookie of the year standings.

A.J. Allmendinger from Los Gatos survived a wild and always unpredictable race at Talladega to finish in 11th place. A.J. had this to say on Twitter a day later: “Exciting day of 200mph chicken for the Best Buy Ford yesterday. Happy to get out of Dega clean. On my way to Dover for a tire test.” It is a rough weekend when you finish 11th in the race and still drop 2 spots in the points standings. A.J. is now in the 15th position.

Jeff Gordon from Vallejo participated in one of the most exciting finishes ever at Talladega. He took the white flag as the leader but was part of an amazing 8 car, 4 wide dash to the finish ending up in 3rd place. Jeff won his 70th career pole and moved up a spot to 13th in the points standings.

Jason Fensler from Wilton, CA. Photo courtesy of www.hometracks.nascar.com.
Jason Fensler from Wilton, CA. Photo courtesy of www.hometracks.nascar.com.

Jason Fensler from Wilton, CA won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at 1/3 mile All American Speedway in Roseville, CA. Racing a part time schedule for Team Cass Racing Jason won in his first race of the year. Other NorCal drivers in the top 10 were Eric Schmidt from Roseville in 5th, Eric Holmes from Escalon in 6th, and Ryan Philpott from Tracy in 9th place.

Our thanks to Kenneth Barton Motorsports Photography for the generous use of his photos.

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