Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet takes cover from the rain.

NASCAR At Fontana: Tony Stewart Wins Rain-Shortened Auto Club 400; Carl Edwards Finishes Fifth

Tony Stewart made a bold strategic decision to stay out on track during a weather-related caution Sunday in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and the decision paid off, earning Stewart a rain-shortened Sprint Cup victory, his second of the 2012 season.

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NASCAR 2012: Denny Hamlin Captures Pole For Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 in California

Denny Hamlin will start from the pole in Sunday's Auto Club 500 Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. It is Hamlin's first top-10 start of the 2012 season and the second time in 12 career starts at the Southern California racetrack that he has won the pole position. He also started on the front row at this race a year ago.

Hamlin beat out Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Mark Martin of Michael Waltrip Racing who will start out in the first three spots on the starting grid for the fifth Sprint Cup race of NASCAR's 2012 season. All three drivers will be in Toyota Camrys. This is Hamlin's 10th pole in his eight-year career driving in NASCAR's top racing series.

"Everyone had a different way of doing it (qualifying)," Hamlin said. "It seemed that there were some guys who were five lanes up and some who just worked their way down (on the track). We were one of the few cars that ran all the way on the bottom."

With two of the first three positions on the starting grid, Joe Gibbs is hoping he will be in good position to win for the first time at Auto Club Speedway. Fontana is the only active track where Gibbs has not won a NASCAR race.

Greg Biffle, who pilots the No. 16 car for Roush-Fenway Racing is the points leader after four events. Biffle owns a nine-point lead over Kevin Harvick and 12 points over teammate Matt Kenseth. Hamlin is in fifth place currently in the drivers' standings. Clint Bowyer of Emporia, Kan., who finished fourth last weekend at Bristol, is in eighth place in the standings, and Columbia, Mo.-native Carl Edwards is currently 15th, 50 points back of the leader.

Bowyer, who has a seat on the Michael Waltrip race team this season, will start 11th on Sunday at Fontana, alongside Edwards in the No. 99 Roush-Fenway Ford in the 12th spot at the start.

For more information on NASCAR and the 2012 Sprint Cup racing series.

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NASCAR At Fontana: Carl Edwards Needs Sprint Cup Points, Might 'Bust Out This Week'

The NASCAR season is now well underway and Carl Edwards is a bit out of his typical position at No. 15 in the Sprint Cup standings. Coming up to the next race in Fontana, Edwards has some work to do to make up ground. Its’ no surprise, then, that Fox Sports’ Larry McReynolds believes Edwards is the driver to watch this weekend.

“I’m continuing to observe and watch closer and closer the 99 car,” says McReynolds. “Carl (Edwards), it’s still early and I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction here, but I’m a son of a gun if they aren’t starting to take a little bit of a look that Denny Hamlin and the 11 team had last year after losing the 2010 championship. They may bust out this week and lead a bunch of laps and win the race.”

After tying in Sprint Cup points with Tony Stewart in 2011, Edwards has endured a slow start in 2012. That can change very quickly with an impressive weekend in southern California.

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