Doesn't it figure? NASCAR decides to pull the plug on Chase racing at the Auto Club Speedway after years of subpar and uninteresting racing. They shorten the track's final Chase event by 100 miles for this year, and as part of the 2011 schedule realignment, kill it entirely after this year.
Then the Pepsi Max 400 happens, and California actually puts on a heck of a show.
Never mind the fact that Jimmie Johnson didn't win, like he normally does at half the Chase tracks. There was drama throughout the race—would all of the Roush Fenway engines grenade like Greg Biffle's, could Mark Martin partially redeem himself for a miserable year by winning, can Clint Bowyer win another Chase race and stick it to the man, per se—in a way that California has desperately needed it for a long time.
In the end, Tony Stewart took the victory, Johnson extended his points lead, and four drivers are now basically out of the championship hunt. As for California, it will need to find a way to translate Sunday's excitement to its lone race next year.
So which Chasers are hot, and which ones aren't, going into the hub of the sport at Charlotte? Read on.