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

Race Capsule

Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • What:

    Race 36 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, FL

  • When:

    November 21, 2004 1:20 pm EST

  • Laps:

    267

  • Track Length:

    1.5 miles

  • Race Length:

    401.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,155,338

Drivers to Watch

Kurt Busch Enters season finale with an 18-point lead over Jimmie Johnson and a 21-point advantage over Jeff Gordon; only twice in NASCAR history has the leader been overtaken in the final race - Richard Petty passed Darrell Waltrip in 1979 and the late Alan Kulwicki rallied from 30 points down to surpass Davey Allison in 1992; overcame what he termed the worst car he's ever had at Darlington to finish sixth in last week's Mountain Dew Southern 500; only driver to finish in the top 10 eight times in first nine "Chase" races; a 42nd in Atlanta was only finish outside the top 10; opened "Chase" with a victory in Sylvania 300 among his three checkered flags this season; has been the standings leader since October 5 when then-leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. was docked 25 points for use of a profanity following his victory in EA Sports 500; has nine top-five finishes and 20 top-10s, including 12 in the last 15 races; only member of final five title-eligible drivers to have won here, taking the checkered flag from the pole in 2002; was under the radar in seventh place entering the "Chase" and would be 242 points behind Gordon in the scoring system used from 1975-2003.
Jeff Gordon Fell a spot to third in the standings but gained 20 points on Busch with a third-place finish in Darlington in his 400th career start; led a race-high 155 laps but a pit stop miscue cost him valuable time and positions; has recorded five top-10 finishes during the "Chase" as he seeks his fifth NASCAR championship; has been in the top three in the standings since winning the Pepsi 400 on July 3; third with five victories this season, with most recent coming in Brickyard 400 on August 8; leads circuit with 24 top-10s; if the scoring system from 1975-2003 was still intact, he would be the points leader with a 52-point advantage over Johnson; among the possible scenarios, he can win the title with a victory coupled with a finish of sixth or worse by Busch; employing a "go for broke" attitude entering the finale: "We have nothing to lose. We'll give it everything we've got and hope to come out on top. We have to win."
Mark Martin Ran second - his 23rd career top-10 at Darlington - last week to maintain fifth place in the standings; climbed from 102 points back to 82 off the pace and remains mathematically eligible for the title, marking the most drivers in contention entering the final since he was among six alive for the 1992 crown; has finished second three times during the "Chase" and five times overall - all within the last 16 races; lone checkered flag this season came in the MBNA 400 "A Salute to Heroes" on June 6; four-time series runner-up, the 45-year-old will be pleased with his penultimate season regardless of Sunday's outcome: "I was afraid 2003 (when he finished 17th) was going to set the tone for the twilight of my career and I was really sick about that. It took a lot of hard work by (crew chief) Pat Tryson and everybody at Roush Racing to get me in a position where I could go out here and battle these guys. I've got 15 years on most of them and more. ... I'm really honored to be driving the kind of equipment that will put me in the position to be able to race with them."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fell from third place and 47 points off the pace to fourth and 72 points back following an 11th in Darlington last week; his battery failed during a late restart, but he was spared disaster when a caution flag flew four laps later, enabling him to pit and replace it while remaining on the lead lap; led 118 laps to take the checkered flag in Checker Auto Parts 500 two weeks ago; was his second win during the "Chase"; after victory in the EA Sports 500 on October 3, was docked 25 points for use of profanity during post-race interview, costing him the lead; second in the circuit with six wins despite not winning a pole this year; has finished no higher than 13th (2000) in four previous races at Homestead; qualified 38th and ran 24th here last year; two-time Busch Series champion looking for his first NASCAR premier series title.
Jimmie Johnson Recorded his fourth checkered flag in the last five races in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 last week, completing a season sweep at Darlington; has rallied from 247 points back with six races remaining to 18 off the pace entering Sunday's season finale; the greatest comeback in NASCAR history was by Alan Kulwicki, who rallied from 278 points back with six races to go in 1992; also finished last year strong, running in the top three in each of the final six races to gain three spots and finish runner-up to Matt Kenseth for the title; leads circuit with eight victories - two more then any other driver - and 19 top-fives; had finished 10th or worse in each of the first four "Chase" races before rattling off wins at Lowe's, Martinsville and Atlanta; ran third to Bobby Labonte and Kevin Harvick in this event last year; maintaining the same strategy he had when he was considered out of contention: "In a sense, in my eyes, we were eliminated from the "Chase" early in the (championship run). We switched gears in our heads and started playing offense, trying to win races, trying to finish up the season on a positive note. ... I think we have to go into Homestead with that same thing in mind - go out and win the race."