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Damage control is the goal in California

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

It's all about staying with Jimmie Johnson this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Barring a wreck or a mechanical failure, you're not going to beat him – Johnson has won four of the last six races there. So stick with him, minimize the damage and head to Charlotte Motor Speedway where, surprisingly, Johnson has been vulnerable as of late.

Each Wednesday during the Chase, Yahoo! Sports breaks down the 12-driver field. This week, the Chase rolls into Auto Club Speedway for Race No. 4.

1. Jimmie Johnson
5503 pts.
Johnson

He's in the driver's seat now. These next three races are when Johnson hits the accelerator and distances himself from the competition. That said, Charlotte will be interesting.
Last week's result: 2nd

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
6 12 3
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 5.5
Last time: 1st
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Phoenix (4.9)
Worst: Talladega (17.8)
Total avg.: 9.5
5495 pts. (-8)
Hamlin

Hamlin must – MUST – finish in the top five this weekend. Failing to do so will have him playing catch-up at tracks where Johnson is just better.
Last week's result: 12th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
6 11 1
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 18.2
Last time: 29th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Martinsville (6.6)
Worst: Talladega (19.3)
Total avg.: 13.5
5473 pts. (-30)
Harvick

It's all about staying with Johnson the next three weeks. Talladega is where Harvick will make his move. The question is, will he be within striking distance of Johnson?
Last week's result: 3rd

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
3 13 2
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 17.7
Last time: 2nd
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Homestead-Miami (8.4)
Worst: Charlotte (20.7)
Total avg.: 15.5
5450 pts. (-53)
Edwards

Had a horrible time at Kansas but salvaged a top-10 finish. He must do better this weekend. Auto Club is one of his best tracks. If he doesn't make a move now, it's probably not coming.
Last week's result: 6th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
0 7 2
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 7.2
Last time: 13th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Homestead-Miami (6.5)
Worst: Talladega (22.5)
Total avg.: 13.9
5445 pts. (-58)
Gordon

The deal hasn't changed for Gordon, who is still in search of that one solid race from start to finish. Just like Edwards, it's getting to the now-or-never point.
Last week's result: 5th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
0 11 0
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 11.0
Last time: 20th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Martinsville (6.7)
Worst: Talladega (16.7)
Total avg.: 12.2
5433 pts. (-70)
Kurt Busch

Can't seem to gain any traction one way or the other. He's good, he's bad, he's good again – which might be why he's sixth in the 12-driver Chase.
Last week's result: 13th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
2 9 2
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 12.2
Last time: 6th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: AUTO CLUB (12.2)
Worst: Martinsville (21.6)
Total avg.: 16.1
5423 pts. (-80)
Kyle Busch

Expect an even harder-driving Kyle Busch this weekend. And that could lead to one of two things: a win or a trip to the infield car center following a wreck.
Last week's result: 21st

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
3 8 2
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 10.8
Last time: 14th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Auto Club (10.8)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (25.2)
Total avg.: 17.2
5418 pts. (-85)
Biffle

He's now won seven Chase races, second only to Johnson's 19. The eighth could come this weekend – and it better because Martinsville is a brutal track for Biffle.
Last week's result: 1st

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
2 6 0
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 16.8
Last time: 10th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Homestead (13.5)
Worst: Martinsville (22.3)
Total avg.: 18.5
5402 pts. (-101)
Burton

He will be solid, but can he finish? It's been a nightmare so far for Burton, who has been as good as everyone not named Johnson so far – only he doesn't have the results to show for it.
Last week's result: 18th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
0 6 0
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 16.7
Last time: 3rd
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Phoenix (11.4)
Worst: Talladega (18.4)
Total avg.: 15.1
5376 pts. (-127)
Stewart

Smoke has led more laps in the past five races than he did in the first 24 races combined. He's probably not going to catch Johnson, but a top-five finish isn't out of the question.
Last week's result: 4th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
1 8 2
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 14.9
Last time: 9th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Phoenix (11.7)
Worst: Auto Club (14.9)
Total avg.: 13.4
5354 pts. (-149)
Kenseth

Out of nowhere, Kenseth is showing signs of life. It's too late for 2010, but it's a good sign going forward. The next seven weeks are all about setting him up for 2011.
Last week's result: 7th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
0 5 0
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 22.1
Last time: 39th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Auto Club (9.1)
Worst: Homestead (19.8)
Total avg.: 15.3
5251 pts. (-252)
Bowyer

Well, it's officially over now that his final appeal came up short. Bowyer now becomes a cheerleader, but one who will be a threat at Auto Club.
Last week's result: 15th

2010 STATS
Wins Top 5s Poles
1 5 0
CAREER
AT AUTO CLUB
Avg. finish: 12.0
Last time: 8th
REMAINING TRACKS
Best: Auto Club (12.0)
Worst: Talladega (21.4)
Total avg.: 15.8