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Last Updated Monday, Sep 11, 2006 1:13 am, EDT

Race Capsule

Auto Club Speedway
  • What:

    Race 27 of 38 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    California Speedway, Fontana, CA

  • When:

    September 3, 2006 8:05 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    250

  • Track Length:

    2. miles

  • Race Length:

    500.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,963,574

Drivers to Watch

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ran third at Bristol and moved one spot to ninth in the standings; owns a 92-point cushion over Kasey Kahne, who is 11th in the standings with just two races remaining before the "Chase for the Championship;" ran sixth at Michigan; captured the checkered flag at Richmond, his first victory of the season that snapped a string of 27 starts without a win; has placed inside the top 15 in 17 of 24 races this season; placed 11th here in February and traditionally has struggled here, registering just two top-10 finishes in nine career starts.
Jeff Burton Placed ninth in last Saturday's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and climbed two spots to seventh in the Nextel Cup standings; ended a string of three consecutive finishes outside the top 10; including 15th at Indianapolis despite starting from the pole; ran ninth at Pocono, his ninth top-10 finish in 11 races; has placed inside the top 15 in 17 of his last 18 races, including 12 top-10 finishes over that span; ran second from the pole at Chicagoland, his best finish of the season; finished fifth here in the Auto Club 500 in February but struggled to 35th-place finish in this event last season.
Denny Hamlin Ran sixth at Bristol and climbed two spots to sixth in the standings; has six consecutive top-10 finishes; captured the checkered flag six weeks ago at Pocono, his second career victory; became the second rookie in series history to win both races at a single track and the sixth driver to complete a season sweep of both Pocono races; finished sixth at New Hampshire; leads Clint Bowyer in standings for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year; was runner-up to Earnhardt at Richmond and won the season-opening Budweiser Shootout, a non-points event; ran 12th here in February.
Kyle Busch Was runner-up to Matt Kenseth at Bristol and climbed three spots to fourth in the standings; Crashed on lap 43 en route to finishing 39th at Michigan, snapping a string of seven consecutive placings in the top 12; made incredible late comeback to finish ninth at Watkins Glen, one of his 13 top-10 finishes this season; finished seventh at Indianapolis; has eight top-five finishes this season, his second on the circuit; captured the checkered flag at New Hampshire, his first victory this season and third career; ran third at Chicagoland one week after placing second at Daytona; defending winner of this race ran 10th here in February.
Matt Kenseth Has stormed to consecutive victories at Michigan and Bristol and trails Johnson by just seven points for the lead in the standings; was runner-up to Johnson at Indianapolis, his third second-place finish this season; appeared primed to win at Chicagoland before getting bumped by Gordon with four laps remaining en route to a 22nd-place finish; after three straight top-five finishes from May 28-June 11, ran 13th and 17th the next two weeks; leads the circuit with 13 top-five finishes; captured the checkered flag here in February and ran seventh in this race last season.
Jeff Gordon Continued climb up the standings after placing fifth at Bristol, one week after a second at Michigan, his fourth top-three finish in seven races; climbed one spot to fifth in the standings, six points behind Kyle Busch; ran third at Pocono and placed 15th at New Hampshire; made bold late move at Chicagoland, bumping Matt Kenseth in lap 263 and going on to win the USG Sheetrock 400, his second victory in three weeks; continued his dominance on road courses by winning at California; the four-time Nextel Cup champion has been obscured this season by Hendrick Motorsports teammate and current points leader Jimmie Johnson; three-time winner at this track has struggled here of late, finishing 21st in this event last season and running 13th in February.
Kevin Harvick Ran 11th at Bristol, his eighth consecutive finish within the top 12; remained third in the standings, 321 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson; had registered five consecutive top-five finishes before placing 11th at Michigan; captured the checkered flag at Phoenix on April 22, his first victory this season; struggled to 29th place here in February and ran 14th in this event last season; has just two top-10 finishes in eight career starts at this track.
Jimmie Johnson Placed 10th at Bristol but saw his standings lead over Matt Kenseth shrink to just seven points; ran outside the top 12 for just the fourth time this season with a 13th-place finish at Michigan; captured the checkered flag at Indianapolis to become just the second driver in NASCAR history to win at Daytona and the Brickyard in the same season; also drove to victory this season at Talladega and Las Vegas; won the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway; absolutely dominated the circuit over the first six races, registering two victories among five finishes inside the top six; was runner-up to Kenseth here in February; won here in 2002 and has four top-five finishes in seven career starts here.
Tony Stewart Struggled to 22nd place at Bristol and fell three spots to eighth in the standings; leads Kahne by 97 points; Recorded second straight top-three finish with third at Michigan; was runner-up to Harvick at Watkins Glen three weeks ago; rebounded from poor start at Indianapolis to finish eighth, one of his 13 top-10 finishes this season; bounced back from consecutive poor performances by running seventh at Pocono; defending series champion persevered through a right shoulder injury to finish third at this year's Pocono 500; crashed in both the Nextel and Busch races at Charlotte and suffered from a fractured right shoulder blade; was runner-up to Johnson at Talladega, his second straight second-place finish; won his first race of the season at Martinsville; placed fifth in this event last season but finished last in the 43-car field here in February.
Mark Martin Slid a whopping six spots to 10th in the standings after running 28th at Bristol; leads Kahne by 90 points for the 10th and final berth in "the Chase;" has run within the top five in three of his last six races; ran fifth at Indianapolis and placed fourth at New Hampshire; has five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s this season; was runner-up to Kahne at Atlanta, his best finish this season; ran 11th in this event last season and placed ninth here in February.