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Mirror Driving: California Snoozin’ While Johnson’s Cruisin’

*Once again, Auto Club Speedway produced a less-than-stellar race for the sparsely-attended Pepsi 500. What makes the track race so different than it’s multi-groove twin, Michigan International Speedway and was this week’s race simply the product of the CoT and one team stinking up the proverbial show?* Vito : Well, it's a stones throw from the largest metropolitan area in North America, and still nobody shows up. Kurt : I don't actually think it was a bad race. I like when one guy dominates. Jimmie darn near threw a shutout last night. Vito : 70,000 people. That's it. More people go to Wrestlemania. Kurt : But I was noticing that it was difficult to pass again, which I think is going to be a problem with this car forever. Vito : MIS is in Detroit's backyard so there is interest, (albeit tepid) from fans and the auto industry alike. And it's difficult to pass in Fontana because of a stupid car with tires that are not designed with said stupid car in mind. Amy: Michigan races better, though. There are more passes. Kurt : I can't understand how Fontana got a Chase date. That is beyond my comprehension. That would be like giving Mexico City the second to last race of the season.

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Did You Notice? … Ragan’s Rise Equals Kenseth’s Fall? A Chase Race To Safety, And Stewart’s Success

*Did You Notice?* … How different things look now for David Ragan now than at this point a year ago? Let’s take a look at the stats through 25 races of his rookie season: 0 Wins, 1 Top 5 (Daytona 500 in February), 1 Top 10 (that same Daytona), 2 DNFs, 22nd in driver points, and getting walloped by Montoya in the Rookie Of The Year Race. How disappointing a performance was that for the freshman? Consider that Mark Martin – the longtime driver of Roush’s flagship No. 6 car – was sitting 24th in the standings, just 46 points behind the rookie while manning a No. 01 car part-time that had changed owners just one month earlier. To make matters worse, Martin accomplished his total with eight fewer starts under his belt, outshining Ragan in every way imaginable in making even the casual observer wonder why there wasn’t a bigger push to keep the veteran in the AAA Ford part-time. Nearly one year to the day after Tony Stewart called him a “dart without feathers,” Ragan looked like a dart going nowhere – even with the veteran guidance of Jimmy Fennig by his side.

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Richmond: A “Must-See” Event

Unless the 10-race shootout for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup becomes a real barnburner of a battle leading into the final race of the season at Homestead, this weekend’s event will be as good as it will get for stock car racing fans. No other race on the schedule will match this race for drama and excitement like the hard-nosed, race-to-win competition that fans will witness Saturday night. All the ingredients are in place for one great show, starting with the correct venue. The ¾-mile Richmond International Raceway will provide, perhaps better than any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit, a site that will give teams struggling to maintain their Top 12 Chase eligible point positions and the two drivers needing to unseat them the best opportunity to achieve their goals the old fashioned way...by earning it.

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Top Ten Things Auto Club Speedway Could Do To Fill the Stands

In the spirit of diversity, and seeing as how some things never change, especially when dealing with a NASCAR race in Fontana, today’s Top Ten may look a bit different, but yet slightly familiar. Familiar in the sense that it is a slightly modified version of the one that was published last year about this time! Translation was provided by Babelfish.com, so don’t yell at me if it’s not quite right. El carretera del club auto de las cosas del Top Ten podía hacer para llenar los soportes *10.* Quite cerca de 30.000 asientos. *9.* Ofrezca la experiencia de conducción del O.J. Simpson, completa con un par libre de guantes de conducción. (No pueden caber, a propósito…) *8.* Plante la lechuga y otras formas de producto en el área de la pista de aterrizaje y grabe un uso para las máquinas segadores en cada asiento. (Usos impresos solamente en español.) *7.* Substituya todas las concesiones poseídas ISC y el restaurante del duende malicioso de Wolfgang por en el & Hacia fuera soportes de la hamburguesa.

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Frontstretch Sprint Cup Power Rankings : Top 15 After Fontana

Frontstretch Power Rankings
California is a wide open track with plenty of room to run. The drivers had to struggle with the sun as it was going down and ultimately struggled with making their cars handle as the track cooled off. The end result was Jimmie Johnson won the race and moved up two spots in the rankings this week as did Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. But the biggest mover was Greg Biffle, climbing three spots from ninth to sixth. Tony Stewart was the biggest loser this week, dropping four spots while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. slid three. To see if your driver was chillin’ in the sun or burnt by the California heat, check out the results of our Top 15 rankings.

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Are We There Yet? 2008 Season Plods Into Richmond With Chase Set To Begin – Is Anyone Really Paying Attention?

Mercifully, the Pepsi 500 at California’s Auto Club Speedway has come to a close. A race that has supplanted the beloved Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway over Labor Day weekend was the highlight of yet another exercise in futility at a track that has been criticized in recent years for poor attendance, poor racing, and generating all of the anticipation and excitement of a root canal. In that regard, it did not disappoint again, as the Nationwide race on Saturday night saw Kyle Busch lead all but six laps en route to his seventh win of the season. Sunday evening was Jimmie Johnson’s night to hang one on the field, mimicking his dominance of the Brickyard 400, driving the same car to victory while leading 228 of 250 laps to earn his third win of the season. He did so while brushing off tepid challenges from Greg Biffle and the two Red Bull entries of Brian Vickers and A.J. Almendinger. This in front of a crowd of approximately 70,000 people — about 40 minutes from one of the largest cities and metropolitan areas on the planet. Yawn.

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Because I Just Can’t Take California Racing Too Seriously

I knew it! I just knew it! Like something from an episode of the X-files, it sat in the middle of the track, looking vaguely like an indeterminate piece of technology. It was big, clearly made of metal and entirely out of place. Awkward shadows hid its true purpose in life. But there was no denying it, there had to be a debris caution. The little men in the safety truck were dispatched to the location of the incident. There was the customary scurrying and tossing of the item into the bed of the pick-up before the anonymous worker climbed back into his vehicle and sped off. Crisis over. The field was now bunched back up and NASCAR Control could let fly the green flag in the interest of finding some nifty racing on this warm California night.

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Pepsi 500 Edition

One race is all that remains between now and this year's much anticipated Chase. While half of the Top 12 head to Richmond with a win-or-lose mentality after locking in their place in the Chase, a number of teams must run smart and post a solid finish to simply make the playoffs. Clint Bowyer holds a 17 point lead over David Ragan for the final Chase spot and both are on this week's WARM list meaning something has to give this weekend. With his win Sunday night, Jimmie Johnson proved he belongs in the same breath as Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as championship contenders, but if you want a sleeper for the title, look no further than another driver from Johnson's home state of California. To find out who, check out this week's edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not in Sprint Cup.

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Talking NASCAR TV : ESPN Is The Mark of Inconsistency For Sunday’s California Race

The last few Labor Day weekends have been a mark of remorse and anger for many of the NASCAR faithful since the Southern 500 was snatched from legendary Darlington Raceway and moved to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The racing in California has been less than thrilling and is reflected by sparse attendance at both the Spring and Fall races. After last week’s exciting duel between NASCAR’s two hottest drivers at Bristol, the sport had a tough act to follow in Fontana. To say that the racing action fell far from the high standard set at Bristol is an accurate observation, but there still was good racing, at times, throughout the field of cars.

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Running Their Mouth : Pepsi 500

_Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Pepsi 500 presented at Auto Club Speedway:_ "It is amazing. To have the fan base that I do here and fans of this sport that we do here means the world to me. Being in my home state the [Jimmie Johnson] Foundation on the side of the car, this is an awesome race. To do it with style like that and have the dominant car all night long; the longest it took me to do anything tonight was to get out of the car and I apologize for that." _Jimmie Johnson_

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