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NASCAR At Fontana: Tony Stewart Leads As Rain Hits, Denny Hamlin Falls To 12th

The red flag is out at Auto Club Speedway of Southern California after 128 of 200 laps in the Auto Club 400, with Tony Stewart leading the race. Denny Hamlin was second, about a second behind Stewart when the rain hit, but he pitted under the caution and relinquished his runner up spot.

Kyle Busch, who dominated the race before giving way to Stewart, sits second ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Carl Edwards. Greg Biffle is sixth, followed by Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, and Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's engine appeared to blow under the caution flag, but his Chevy was able to coast around to the pit road without losing positions. Hamlin is scored in the 12th position.

One driver who went from a contender to afterthought in a hurry was Jeff Gordon. His Chevrolet was in the top-five and running lap times comparable to Stewart when he hit pit road for his last green flag pit stop. Gordon's fueler was unable to get the gas can disengaged before Gordon pulled away and fell outside the pit box, bringing on a penalty for taking equipment out of the pit box. He sits 26th and is looking at yet another mediocre finish to open the 2012 season.

If the race does not resume, it will be Stewart's 46th-career win and his second of the season after he won at Las Vegas earlier this month. He previously won at Fontana in October 2010, which stood as his last victory until he took the checkered flag at Chicago to open the Chase last fall. He proceeded to win five of the last ten races and will have won seven of the last fifteen.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.