Race number four of the Chase turned out to be maybe the best race at Auto Club Speedway in the track's Sprint Cup Series history. The reduced distance of 400 miles seemed to raise the intensity level from February's 500-mile grind at the two-mile track and by the end of the afternoon the final results had major implications on the 2010 championship picture:
(1st) Tony Stewart
Cross Auto Club Speedway off Smoke's list of tracks where he hadn't scored a Cup win until his victory Sunday afternoon which put the two-time champion right back in this year's championship hunt. Stewart now finds himself 107 points out of the lead with six races left to decide this year's title.
(2nd) Clint Bowyer
The roller coaster Chase campaign continued for Bowyer who bounced back from two weeks of controversy to finish second on Sunday. But Bowyer's controversial run may not be over as the Richard Childress Racing driver was very critical about the race's final caution for debris, which he contends was on track for several laps before NASCAR finally displayed the yellow flag.
(3rd) Jimmie Johnson
Even when Johnson doesn't find victory lane he wins. Was in the fight for victory at his home track all afternoon but settled for a third place finish, good enough to increase his lead in the Sprint Cup Series point standings to 36 points.
(7th) Kevin Harvick
What could have been a disastrous day actually ended up pretty well for Harvick, who was caught speeding on pit road and also in a bit of a tussle with crew chief Gil Martin on a decision not to pit late in the race. Harvick's top ten finish was impressive considering what might have been.
(8th) Denny Hamlin
A transmission problem forced Hamlin to start last in the field on Sunday but he made an very impressive and steady climb to the front of the field to post a much-needed top ten finish. Despite losing ground to Johnson in the standings, Hamlin did what championship-caliber teams needed to on Sunday.
(9th) Jeff Gordon
Still trying to find the ingredients to end the winless drought that dates back to April of 2009. Gordon had a fast car but some shaky pit strategy and communication coast him a better finish than simply another top ten.
(21st) Kurt Busch
Was trying to salvage at least a tenth place finish when David Ragan slid in front of him racing for position and the day's biggest crash unfortunately swept up the driver of the Blue Deuce.
(23rd) Jeff Burton
The day started with crew chief Todd Berrier taking ill and didn't get any better as the Richard Childress Racing driver was a non-factor all race and limped home with a disappointing 23rd.
(30th) Matt Kenseth
Led in the early going but afflicted by the Roush Fenway Racing engine issues late when smoke began to blow from Kenseth's tail pipes in the closing laps.
(34th) Carl Edwards
A fuel pick-up problem doomed Edwards who saw his long consistency streak come to an end in California.
(35th) Kyle Busch
A victim of a blown engine that according to Busch ended his chance at winning this year's title, coming a day after he scored his 12th Nationwide Series victory of the season.
(41st) Greg Biffle
From the what a difference a week makes file, Biffle goes from winning at Kansas last Sunday to being knocked out by a blown engine in California which set the tone for the entire Roush team.