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Last Updated Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 5:27 pm, EDT

Checker Auto Parts 500

Status: Final Phoenix International Raceway

Race Capsule

Phoenix International Raceway
  • What:

    Race 34 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, AZ

  • When:

    November 7, 2004 3:30 pm EST

  • Laps:

    312

  • Track Length:

    1. miles

  • Race Length:

    312.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,844,100

Drivers to Watch

Ryan Newman Ran 17th at the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 last week to just miss out on his third straight top 15 finish; has won the poll in each of the last three races and eight on the season, tops among "Cup" contenders; has taken 26 poles in 113 career starts overall; moved up two spots to seventh in the standings, 186 points behind Busch; has two wins in 2004, including MBNA 400 in Dover back on September 26; has pocketed $4.76 million in earnings this year.
Tony Stewart Ran ninth at the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 last week to record his second top-10 finish in his last three races and 17th of the year; stands sixth in the standings, 145 points off the pace; has won two races this year, and is one of sixth racers in the "Cup" standings to not capture a poll; his helicopter pilot, Scott Lathram, was among the 10 people killed in the plane crash en route to Martinsville Speedway on Sunday: "Scott Lathram was a great friend, a respected employee and one of the best helicopter pilots in the country. ... He was also one of the most loyal people I've ever met," Stewart said.
Jeff Gordon Dropped a spot in the standings to third after suffering transmission failure in Bass Pro Shops MBNA 5000; now trails 72 points behind Busch in search of his fifth NASCAR championship; has been in the top three in the standings since winning the Pepsi 400 on July 3; tied for second with five victories this season, with most recent coming in Brickyard 400 on August 8; placed seventh in the race here with no career victories; has captured six poles this year, second among Nextel Cup contenders.
Elliott Sadler Dropped one spot in the standings to eighth after running 36th last week; was in an accident at the Subway 500 two weeks ago, was first DNF since an accident forced him out of the UAW-GM Quality 500 on October 11, 2003; also snapped a string of two straight top 10 finishes; has taken checkered flag twice this year, including a win in California which clinched his berth in the "Chase".
Jimmie Johnson Captured third straight win and series-high seventh in Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 to move up two places to second on the "Chase" standings, 59 points behind Busch; the win helped to honor the 10 people, including several members of his Hendrick Motorsports team, that lost their lives in the tragic plane crash less than 10 miles away from the Martinsville Speedway; has vaulted up seven spots from eighth over the last three weeks to second, attempting to join Alan Kulwicki and Terry Labonte as the only drivers to rally from a deficit of at least 96 points to win with four races left; became first driver to record three straight wins since current teammate Jeff Gordon won four in a row in 1998; began the "Chase" second behind Gordon but finished 10th or worse in each of the first four races; leads circuit with 18 top-five finishes; had second-place finish here last year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Crashed with 15 laps remaining last week and has been knocked out in each of his last two races; fell two spots to fifth in the "Chase" standings, 98 points behind Busch; defending champion here, outracing Jimmie Johnson; prior to DNF, had six consecutive top-10 finishes; tied with Gordon for second on the circuit with five wins, including Golden Corral 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in March; won this race last year.
Mark Martin In his penultimate season on the circuit, the 45-year-old is fourth in the standings, 81 points behind Busch; sliced 143 points off of Busch's lead after finishing second at the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 last week, his first top-10 finish since running second in MBNA America 400 on September 26; lone checkered flag this year came in MBNA 400 "A Salute to Heroes" on June 6; finished 10th here last year and won the title back in 1993.
Kurt Busch Failed to finish in Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway last week due to a blown engine; had his 96-point lead in the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" shrink to 59 over Jimmie Johnson; under current points system, only two drivers have rallied from a deficit of at least 96 points to win with four races left - Alan Kulwicki in 1992 and Terry Labonte in 1996; last week's mishap marked the first time in the seven "Chase" races that Busch failed to run among the top 10; had finished no lower than sixth in the first six "Chase" races to establish his lead atop the standings; has three wins this year among his 11 career checkered flags; has nine top-five finishes and 18 top-10s, including 10 in the last 13 races; ran fourth in this race last year.