The Frontstretch: California Driver Handicaps by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday February 21, 2007

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California Driver Handicaps

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday February 21, 2007


2007 California Driver Handicaps

Jimmie Johnson: Johnson scored his first ever career Cup victory at California back in 2002 (yes, kids, they were racing stock cars way back in 2002). In addition, Johnson has scored three runner-up finishes at Fontana, one of them in this race last year. That’s a total of four 1st or seconds in eight career Cup starts at the track.

Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won this race last year, and has Top 10 finishes in six of his ten Fontana Cup starts. He's led almost ten percent of the laps he's run here in Cup competition; Kenseth has also won three Busch Series races here.

Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished twelfth and sixth here last year as a rookie.

Kevin Harvick: Harvick has yet to score a Top 5 finish and has just two Top 10 results in nine Cup starts at Fontana. On the other hand, Harvick has top 10 finishes in the last seven Busch races at this track and five of those finishes were within the top 5.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt finished second in the September race here last year and third here in 2001. However, those two Top 5 finishes are offset by three DNFs in ten Fontana Cup starts, which leave Junior with a less than admirable nineteenth place average finish here. He did win a Busch race at the speedway way back in 1998.

Jeff Gordon: Gordon has three Cup wins here, including his victory in the inaugural Fontana Cup event back in 1997. But lately, the No. 24 team's flat track program has struggled, and Gordon has just one Top 10 finish in the last five races here.

Jeff Burton: It's feast or famine for Burton at Fontana. His three top 5 finishes (including a second place finish in 1999) are offset by three finishes of 30th or worse.

Kasey Kahne: Kahne won here last September and finished second in the Fontana fall event of 2004. Those finishes account for two of his four Top 10 finishes in six Cup starts here.

Kyle Busch: Busch won the fall race here in 2005, his first career Nextel Cup win, and scored Top 10 finishes in both of last year's Fontana races.

Tony Stewart: Stewart popped and engine and finished dead last here last year after contending for the win. He's averaging only about an eighteenth place finish at California despite five Top 10 finishes in eleven starts.

Carl Edwards: Although he’s never won in a Cup car, Edwards has never finished worse than sixth in five career Cup starts here. In fact, in eleven starts here in NASCAR's top three touring series, Edwards has never finished worse than twelfth.

Greg Biffle: Biffle won here in the spring of 2005 and finished second in that year's Fall race. Still he's struggled here in his other starts, so his average Fontana Cup finish remains around 21st. He broke an engine last year while leading the race.

Casey Mears: Mears has never led a lap here in seven starts and is averaging about a 21st place finish in seven Fontana Cup starts. However, he did finish 7th in this race last year driving for Chip Ganassi.

Brian Vickers: Vickers finished third here in 2005, but that’s his only finish better than 13th at the track; his average finish in six Fontana Cup starts remains 21st.

Kurt Busch: Busch fell on some hard times here last year. Despite having won at this track in 2003, Busch has just one top 10 result in the last six California Cup races.

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished fourteenth in this race last year, but rebounded with a credible third place finish here last September as a rookie.

Ryan Newman: While Newman has Top 10 finishes in three of his seven Fontana Cup starts, he's missed the top 10 the last three times out here, and hasn't led a lap at Fontana since 2004.

Martin Truex, Jr.: Truex finished midpack in both of last year's Fontana Cup races.

Scott Riggs: Riggs hasn't found the handle at California yet. He did finish seventh in one race here but his average finish remains about 23rd at this track.

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02/22/2007 06:05 PM

Matt, I appreciate your work, but you shouldn’t have spent so much time on California. It just isn’t (yawn) worth it. I’ll check back in with Nextel Cup in a couple of weeks, maybe Atlanta or Bristol.