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Leffler Comes Home To California Backed By Braun's New-Found Strength My Turn: Peters Gets His Chance In Reigning Champion's Ride Long Beach's Leffler Likes Sleeper Label Heading Home David Gilliland will have plenty of attention this...

Leffler Comes Home To California Backed By Braun's New-Found Strength

My Turn: Peters Gets His Chance In Reigning Champion's Ride

Long Beach's Leffler Likes Sleeper Label Heading Home

David Gilliland will have plenty of attention this weekend at California Speedway, which is just fine with his fellow Golden State native, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota). Leffler -- who is from Long Beach -- started on the outside pole at Daytona last Saturday ushering in the Toyota era in the NASCAR Busch Series. His Braun Racing teammates -- Dave Blaney (No. 32 Fan1st.com Toyota) was second in the race while John Andretti (No. 10 Camping World Toyota) started fifth -- helped cap off a strong 2007 debut for the team. Blaney is scheduled to drive the No. 10 ABF U-Pack Moving Toyota this weekend while Chad Blount is penciled in for the No. 32 Camry at California.

Leffler finished 22nd last Saturday but could carry sleeper status to his home-state track this weekend.

In 2004, he captured the pole for the first race at California and registered a top-10 finish in the second event that season.

Leffler posted his track-best of seventh place in the first race at California in 2005 and is anxious to better his average finish of 23rd in both of last season's events there.

Big Shoes Dept.: Peters Steps Into Champion's Ride At California

Timothy Peters (No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet) will be in quite a position this weekend in California.

He'll try to make his second career start in the NASCAR Busch Series which in itself is an exciting prospect for the 27-year-old from Providence, N.C.

Throw in that he's sharing the No. 21 Chevrolet with the driver who won the 2006 series championship and completed a historic sweep at Daytona last weekend -- Kevin Harvick -- and that Harvick will be racing his own No. 33 RoadLoans.com Chevrolet from the Kevin Harvick Inc. stable in Harvick's home state of California, and it becomes understandable that the excitement could be exchanged for a bit of pressure.

Most of Peters' NASCAR national series experience has come in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where he competed in 33 races over the last two seasons. He made his NASCAR Busch Series debut last October at Memphis where he finished 13th after starting 10th.

A little pressure hasn't seemed to bother Peters, though. Faced with a similar situration during last year at Memphis, he competed solidly with plenty of hoopla surrounding the race. His teammate clinched the 2006 series owner title for Richard Childress while Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) made his NASCAR debut.

Chevrolet Seeks 14th Manufacturers Title

Chevrolet is off and running in the pursuit to build on its record 13 Bill France Performance Cup titles thanks to Kevin Harvick's win last Saturday at Daytona.Chevy won the title last year but will now face the challenge of three other manufacturers with the addition of Toyota to the NASCAR Busch Series. Dodge is also seeking its first title while Ford hopes to add its third manufacturer championship this year.

Can Leffler Fend Off Roush-Fenway Racing Contingent At California?

Most people would rather not brave the long trip from Daytona to California -- especially after the whirlwind of Speedweeks.

Not Jason Leffler. He's returning home, and that's always a welcome voyage. A resident of Moorseville, N.C., Leffler is from Long Beach, Calif., about 60 miles from California Speedway.

In addition to heading home, there's more good news for Leffler: he's accumulated some impressive Loop Data numbers, which could mean a solid finish at the Stater Bros. 300.

Over the past four years at California Speedway (three races for Leffler), the 31-year-old has 187 passes, the 10th-highest number among any NASCAR Busch Series driver during that span. With an impressive average finish of 17.7 at California, Leffler could be a threat on Saturday.

But he'll have some tough competition to negotiate, especially from the Roush-Fenway Racing contingent led by Carl Edwards (No. 60 World Financial Group Ford), whose name is peppered throughout the Loop Data statistics.

Edwards finished third in this event last year and has a fifth-best Average Running Position of 6.853, a Driver Rating of 118.1 -- tied for third-best -- and is fourth among all drivers in Green Flag Speed.

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford), the defending race winner, could also find himself in Victory Lane, so says the Loop Data. Biffle has a fifth-best Driver Rating of 108.8 and third-fastest Speed on the Frontstretch, which is a pivotal stat when mapping out a California Speedway plan of attack. Biffle also has top-five speeds in each of the turns at California over the past four races held there.

Additionally, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Dish Network Ford) is tied with Biffle for most series wins at California (three) while team owner Jack Roush leads in that category with five wins in NASCAR Busch Series competition at California.

ETC

Kertus Davis will make his debut for KHI in the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet at California Speedway. ... The next stop for the NASCAR Busch Series will be at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on March 4. A solid contingent of drivers who hail from Mexico City are scheduled to participate including Adrian Fernandez for Hendrick Motorsports, Michel Jourdain Jr. for Roush-Fenway Racing, Carlos Contreras for Fitz Motorsports and Jorge Goeters for Brewco Motorsports. ... Last year's Mexico City winner Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) has plenty of early-season optimism, especially when it comes to tracks like California Speedway. "If the Las Vegas test (was) any indication of the cars we have built for intermediate tracks this season, I look forward to competing for wins each week I am in the car," he said. ... Jerry Baxter, crew chief for the No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota of David Reutimann, grew up in Turlock, Calif., an hour-and-a-half away from the track. ... Shane Huffman (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) is scheduled to fly with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team on Feb. 26 at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif. The team flies between 120-700 mph at heights of 15-15,000 feet.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Stater Bros. 300 The Place: California Speedway

The Date: Feb. 24, 20071
The Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 2-mile oval

Race Purse: $1,626,139

2005 Winner: Greg Biffle
2006 Pole: Carl Edwards

Schedule:
Fri.-- Practice, 8-9:15 a.m., Rooke Practice, 9:30-10 a.m.
Sat. -- Qualifying, 12:10 p.m. (Impound).

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Hendrick Motorsports