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Last Updated Monday, Sep 12, 2005 1:15 am, EDT

Race Capsule

Auto Club Speedway
  • What:

    Race 25 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    California Speedway, Fontana, CA

  • When:

    September 4, 2005 8:10 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    250

  • Track Length:

    2. miles

  • Race Length:

    500.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,840,067

Drivers to Watch

Carl Edwards Climbed a spot to eighth in the standings despite a 24th in last week's Sharpie 500; has won twice among his seven top-fives in his first full season on the circuit; the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year also has won three times this season in the Busch Series, in which he is fourth in the points standings; ran sixth in this event among his five top-10s in 13 premier series starts last year; finished fifth here in February.
Mark Martin In what was supposed to be his final season on the circuit, is fifth in the standings, 396 points off the pace and 222 ahead of 11th place; won the Nextel All-Star Challenge in May but has not won a points event since June 6, 2004 at Dover; the four-time series runner-up finished last season fourth in the standings, marking the 11th time he has concluded a season in the top five; has 12 top-10s and six top-fives this season, finishing as high as third on two occasions; won here in 1998 and finished third in this event last season and seventh here in February; his 263 laps led here trail only Jeff Gordon's 410.
Kurt Busch Defending series champion retained seventh in the standings with a 10th in Bristol last week; was his fifth top-10 in the last seven events; began the season with three consecutive top-three finishes, including a third here on February 27, but has managed only four in 21 events since; has recorded two victories this season after claiming three checkered flags in 2004; is tied for third on the circuit with 13 top-10s in his penultimate season with Roush Racing; won the Auto Club 500 here in 2003 by 2.294 seconds over Bobby Labonte.
Greg Biffle Took the checkered flag here in February for the first of his five victories this season; is third in the standings and his third-place finish last week at Bristol secured his spot in the "Chase for the Nextel Cup"; has run in the top-five the last two events after finishing 11th or worse in six of the previous seven events; tied for third on the circuit with 13 top-10s; had run outside the top 10 in each of his first four starts here before visiting victory lane this year.
Jimmie Johnson The native of El Cajon, California recorded his first career victory on this track in 2002; is second in the standings after being the standings runner-up each of the last two seasons; clinched his spot in the "Chase" with a 10th in Michigan two weeks ago; engine trouble led to a 36th last week, dropping him 213 points off Tony Stewart's pace and just 11 points ahead of third-place Biffle; was runner-up to Biffle here in February amid a string of 13 consecutive top-10s dating to last year; also was runner-up to Gordon here in May 2004; not taking anything for granted despite already clinching a spot in the "Chase".
Jeff Gordon Four-time series champion finished sixth last week in Bristol to climb two spots to 10th, reaching the standings top 10 for the first time since mid-June; after being as many as 126 points out of 10th place, has run 15th or better in each of the last five races to ascend five spots in the standings; is the only driver to win more than once on this track with three wins, including the Auto Club 500 last spring when he crossed the start-finish line 12.871 seconds ahead of teammate Jimmie Johnson, establishing the largest margin of victory here; won the season-opening Daytona 500 among his three checkered flags in 2005 but has not visited victory lane since May 1 at Talladega.
Followed up his first win of the season with an 18th-place finish last week in Bristol; remained sixth in the standings, 427 points off the pace; has just six top-10s and four top-fives this season, the lowest totals among top-10 drivers, but has finished worse than 23rd just twice; one of those results came here in February, when he ran 28th in the Auto Club 500; ran 16th in this event last season before winning at Richmond in the 26th event of last season to gain entry into the inaugural "Chase"; edged Bobby Labonte by .300 seconds on this track on April 30, 2000.
Tony Stewart The 2002 series champion widened his lead atop the standings to 213 points with an eighth in Bristol last week; was his 10th consecutive top-10, a span which includes each of his five victories this season; prior to the 10-race spurt, was 10th in the standings following a 29th at Pocono Raceway on June 12; needs only one more win to match his career high set in 2000; has led a series-high 1,190 laps this season; expecting some frantic action the next two weeks: "If you are solidly in the top 10, it will be business as usual. But if you're 11th in points and you're within 50 points of the guy in 10th and it's down to the last two races, you're going to race like you're racing for the championship. You're going to take more chances at that point because you know if you don't make it, the best you're going to finish is 11th."
Elliott Sadler Won last year's inaugural Labor Day weekend race here after Rockingham, North Carolina had occupied that spot on the calendar the previous 39 years; his victory here clinched his spot into last year's "Chase" and stands as his most recent triumph; is 13th in the standings, 34 points outside of 10th place with two events remaining before the 10-race run for the championship; ran 13th in Bristol last week, marking his seventh consecutive finish of 12th or worse since posting back-to-back top-10s in Michigan and Sonoma in June; ran eighth here in February.
Matt Kenseth The 2003 series champion emerged again as a contender with his first win since March 2004 in last week's Sharpie 500 at Bristol; led 415 of the 500 laps and climbed four spots to 11th in the standings, just 11 points behind 10th-place Jeff Gordon with two races remaining before the "Chase"; has rallied for eight top-10s over the last 12 races after managing just one in the previous 21 events, dating to last season; was 271 points out of 10th place entering the Pepsi 400 at Daytona on July 2; finished 26th here in February and 22nd in this event last year; ran a career-high third on this track in April 2000.
Ryan Newman Was the victim of a retaliatory bump by Dale Jarrett - who was penalized two laps for rough driving - in last week's Sharpie 500, relegating him to a 39th-place finish and dropping him a spot to ninth in the standings; with just two races remaining before the "Chase," is only 31 points ahead of 11th-place Kenseth; leads the circuit with five poles but has not qualified first since June 19, a span of nine events; since leading the circuit with eight checkered flags in 2003, has recorded only two wins and none this season; best result of 2005 was a third in Richmond on May 14.
In his last full season on the circuit, the 49-year-old is fourth in the standings and needs only to start this event to clinch his spot in the "Chase"; ran fifth in his beloved Bristol last week for his sixth top-five of the season; tied for third on the circuit with 13 top-10s and has finished lower than 20th only four times; has run 13th or better in all but one of the last 13 events; the 1989 series champion has been running at the finish in a circuit-best 37 consecutive races; has posted a series-best six top-10s in 10 starts on this track, including a victory in 2001; ran 10th here in February.
Jamie McMurray Ran 26th in Bristol last week, tumbling two spots to 12th in the standings; is just one point behind 11th-place Kenseth and 12 out of 10th; since running second in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona on July 2, has finished 11th or worse in seven straight races; finished fourth here both in February and in this event last year and has run in the top five in three of his four premier series starts here; also has claimed two Busch Series checkered flags on this track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR's most popular driver is 15th in the standings, 117 points out of 10th place with two races remaining before the "Chase"; has run in the top 10 in two of the last three events after an early accident saddled him with a last-place finish at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard; after setting a career high with six victories last year, has managed only one win in 2005, on July 10 at Chicagoland Speedway; ran 32nd here in February, marking the first of his nine results of 22nd or worse this season; has run in the top 10 on 10 occassions; an accident relegated him to a 34th in this event last year.