Jeff Gordon has to win races if he is to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this season. So far, so good in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma. Gordon passed polesitter Marcos Ambrose after 11 laps and shows the way early on the winding road course in California's wine country. The five-time winner at Sonoma is off to a good start.
Ambrose has slid back to fourth behind Gordon's teammate Jimmie Johnson, the 2010 Sonoma winner, and Clint Bowyer. Bowyer's teammate Martin Truex Jr. holds down the fifth position. The top-10 is completed by Kyle and Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Greg Biffle.
On the charge through the field is Tony Stewart, who started 24th and has now gained 11 positions to run 13th. Heading the opposite direction are Carl Edwards, who has fallen from 11th to 19th, and last week's winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has fallen to 26th.
Travis Kvapil's left front tire locked up as soon as the race started, sending his Toyota to the garage where he has remained since. Joe Nemechek followed him to the garage, starting and parking after completing just one lap.