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Last Updated Friday, Mar 10, 2006 9:14 pm, EST

Auto Club 500

Status: Final California Speedway

Race Capsule

Auto Club Speedway
  • What:

    Race 2 of 38 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    California Speedway, Fontana, CA

  • When:

    February 26, 2006 4:05 pm EST

  • Laps:

    250

  • Track Length:

    2. miles

  • Race Length:

    500.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,934,504

Drivers to Watch

Kurt Busch Series champion in 2004 hoping to rebound after finishing just 38th in last week's Daytona 500, his first race with Penske Racing South; was involved in a five-car crash along the backstretch of lap 188 last Sunday, ending his race; ran third in this race last season to register his third career top-five finish in the event; won this race in 2003 by a whopping 2.294 seconds over Bobby Labonte; finished 10th in the Nextel Cup standings in 2005 but was suspended for the final two races after an incident with the Phoenix police last November; managed just three wins and no poles in 2005, with his last checkered flag coming at the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on September 10; had four top-10 finishes in the "Chase" and 18 overall in 2005.
Greg Biffle Captured the checkered flag in this race last season, edging runner-up Jimmie Johnson by 0.231 seconds; placed second on this track in the Sony HD 500 on September 4, trailing winner Kyle Busch by 0.554 seconds; looking to bounce back from a 31st-place finish in last Sunday's Daytona 500; finished second in the Nextel series standings last season, trailing champion Tony Stewart by 35 points; won a series-high six races in 2005 and had 15 top-five finishes - both career highs; had six top-10 finishes in the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" with a victory at the Ford 400 to conclude the 2005 campaign.
Jimmie Johnson Coming off a victory at last week's Daytona 500, the biggest win of his five-year career; overcame the loss of suspended crew chief Chad Knaus to win his first career Daytona 500; credited his success at Daytona to team owner Rick Hendrick and interim crew chief Darien Grubb: "I am so, so proud of this race team. It's been a great week for us. I wish Chad Knaus was here to celebrate with us. Everyone stepped up when they needed to."; was the runner-up to Biffle in this race last year, posting his third career top-five finish in the event; native of El Cajon, California recorded his first career checkered flag on the circuit here on April 28, 2002; finished fifth in the standings last season after consecutive second-place finishes in 2003 and 2004; captured four checkered flags in 2005, the last coming at the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 15; led the points standings for 16 of the first 20 weeks in 2005 before crashing and finishing 38th at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on August 7; recorded 13 top-five finishes in 2005.
Jeff Gordon The pre-race favorite in last Sunday's Daytona 500 suffered a disappointing 26th-place finish; attempted to pass Stewart in turn 2 of lap 48, but his Chevrolet Monte Carlo drifted into Stewart's car and brushed into the wall; recovered nicely in the later stages and had a chance at a top-10 finish before falling back in the final laps; captured the checkered flag in the second Gatorade Duel last Thursday; is the only driver to win more than once here; finished 30th in this race last season and has failed to crack the top 20 in each of his last three runnings at this track; led 81 laps to win this event in 2004, his third career victory at this track; has recipe for winning here: "You carry a lot of speed into the entrances of the corners. So trying to get the car comfortable and carry the speeds in the corner and then having enough to carry the momentum through the corner is really important."; struggled through a disappointing 2005 campaign in which he managed just four wins and two poles; finished the season 11th in the standings, his worst since a 14th-place finish in 1993 - his rookie year; recorded eight top-five finishes last year while registering just 14 top 10s, his lowest total since 1994.
Ryan Newman Finished third in the Daytona 500 last Sunday, his first career top-five finish in NASCAR's biggest race; ran ninth in this race last season, his third top-10 finish in California; ran third in this event in 2004; followed up with a fifth in the Pop Secret 500 here four months later; won the second of his 27 career poles here in 2002, setting a track record with a lap of 187.432 miles per hour; recorded the most poles on the circuit for the fourth straight year in 2005 with eight, including three during the "Chase."
Tony Stewart Defending Nextel champion finished fifth in last week's Daytona 500 despite being involved in a number of crashes; was bumped into the wall by Gordon in lap 48 and collided with Kenseth in lap 111 before pitting and going at it with Kenseth again in pit row; finished in the top 10 in each of his first three races here but has not cracked the top 16 since, running 17th last season; finished fifth in t
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ran eighth in last Sunday's Daytona 500, registering his fourth career top-10 finish in the event; was in the lead after 400 miles before falling back in the last 20 laps; captured the Wix Filters Lap Leader Award on Sunday; finished 32nd in this event last season; has recorded one top-five and two top-10 finishes at this track in his career; entering second race with new teammate and two-time Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr.; managed just seven top-five finishes in 2005, with his only win coming at the USG Sheetrock 400 on July 10; faltered down the stretch last year, finishing 18th or lower in seven of the last nine races.
Carl Edwards Looking to bounce back after a disappointing weekend at Daytona, in which he was the first driver knocked out of the Daytona 500; was involved in a six-car crash near turn 3, ending his race after just 78 laps; finished fifth in this race last season, his first full campaign on the Nextel circuit; has registered three top-10 finishes in three Nextel events on this track; finished fourth from the pole on this track in the Sony HD 500 last year; recorded eight top-10 finishes over the final nine races last year to finish the season third in the standings; registered four wins and 13 top-five finishes in 2005; took the checkered flag at the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta on October 30 and followed it up the next week with a victory at the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway; also registered victories at the Golden Corral 500 on March 20 and the Pocono 500 on June 12.
Matt Kenseth Ran to a 15th-place finish at Daytona on Sunday after being involved in a major controversy with Stewart; was in the lead for 28 laps before colliding with Stewart in lap 111; pitted his car after lap 111 and ran into Stewart's rear bumper, drawing a black-flag penalty from NASCAR; has registered three top-10 finishes in this event, including a career-best third-place finish in 2000; finished seventh in the standings last year; recorded 12 top-five finishes last season, including six over the final 10 races; captured the checkered flag at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 27.
Clint Bowyer Rookie driver made a huge splash with a sixth-place finish in last week's Daytona 500, his second career race on the Nextel circuit; became just the eighth driver in NASCAR history to secure a top-10 finish in the Daytona 500 in his rookie campaign; captured the Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award along with the U.S.G. Improving the Finish Award; managed just a 21st-place finish last Thursday in the first Gatorade Duel after starting fourth; registered a pair of top-five finishes on this track in last season's Busch Series, running fourth in the Stater Bros. 300 on February 26 and finishing third from the pole in the Ameriquest 300 on September 3.