Although neither Jeff Gordon nor Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified for the Chase portion of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, fans remained captivated as the decision on the title came down to the very last race. Veteran driver Rusty Wallace also retired at the end of the 2005 season and began a new career as a commentator for ESPN.

Continuing their efforts to make NASCAR a sport with truly nationwide appeal, the International Speedway Corporation purchased land near Seattle, Washington, and on Staten Island in New York City for potential future tracks.

Revisit these important events -- and even more action on the track, including pictures -- with the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup chronology below.

February 20, 2005: Daytona 500

Jeff Gordon squeaks past Tony Stewart in the waning laps and wins the first Daytona 500 in history to go into overtime. The race is also the first for the new Dodge Charger, which replaces the Intrepid.

February 27, 2005: Auto Club 500

Greg Biffle wins the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Tra­di­tionally the race date for Rocking­ham's North Carolina Speedway, the weekend is now a second race date for California. Unlike previous events at California, this one is not a sellout.

NASCAR Image Gallery

Tony Stewart drives in the 2005 Dodge/Save Mart 350, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series event.
Tony Stewart pilots his #20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
during the June 26
Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon
Raceway. Stewart passed Ricky Rudd with 10
laps to
go and went on to win by 2.2 seconds over the veteran
Rudd, who hung
on to finish second. For Stewart, it
was his first win of the season
and his fourth
in 13 starts on a road course.
See more pictures of NASCAR.

April 17, 2005: Samsung/Radioshack 500

Greg Biffle leads 219 of 334 laps in the Samsung/Radioshack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in his back-up car and goes on to win. Biffle crashed his main car in practice and had to move from fifth to the back of the field. It is the Roush Racing driv­er's second win of the season and it puts him in second in the points race.

April 23, 2005: Subway Fresh 500

Defending champion Kurt Busch wins the Subway Fresh 500, the first night race at Phoenix International Raceway. It is also the first spring date for Phoenix, in addition to its usual late-season race.

May 7, 2005

Greg Biffle wins the first night race at Darlington Raceway. The race goes into overtime when a yellow flag comes out after Mark Martin spins with four laps to go. The caution ­erases Ryan Newman's four-second lead. It is Biffle's third win of the season and the fifth win in 10 races for Roush Racing.

Tony Stewart and his team scale the fence at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Tony Stewart and his entire crew scale the fence at
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
following the Aug. 7
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Though new to
NASCAR, the
spiderlike celebration was made
popular by Indy Racing League driver Helio

Castro­neves. Stewart started 22nd but ran down the
favorites to win his second
consecutive race in a
flourish that would see him
win five out of
seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events.

May 14, 2005: Chevy American Revolution 400

After six career second-place finishes, Kasey Kahne scores his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

June 12, 2005: Pocono 500

Carl Edwards drives to victory in the Pocono 500 at Pocono Race­way. The win is bittersweet because it causes Edwards to miss a rain-delayed NASCAR Busch Series race at Nash­ville and thus lose his points lead in NASCAR's second highest series.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Scott Wimmer drive in the 2005 USG Sheetrock 400, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series event.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and #22 Scott Wimmer duke it out
during the July 10 USG
Sheetrock 400 at Chicago
Speed­way. The race was the highlight of Earnhardt's

disappointing season. A win at Chicago boosted
Earnhardt from 16th to 13th
in the standings with
eight races left to qualify for the Chase for the
NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup. Seventeenth entering
The Chase, Earnhardt failed to qualify

and he would drop to 19th in the final standings.

July 14, 2005

Ford unveils the NASCAR version of its new 2006 Fusion midsize sedan. The car is set to make its ­racing debut at the February 2006 Daytona 500, marking the first time in 38 years that Ford has introduced a brand-new model and raced it in the same year.

August 7, 2005: Allstate 400

Indiana-native Tony Stewart calls winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard "The greatest day of my life." It is Stewart's fourth of five wins in a seven-race span.

September 4, 2005: Sony HD 500

Kyle Busch, 20, becomes the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he outduels Greg Biffle in the Sony HD 500 at California Speedway.

Ryan Newman drives in the 2005 Sylvania 300, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series event.
Ryan Newman buries the start/finish line under a
cloud of smoke after kicking
off the Chase for the
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup with a win in the Sept. 18
Sylvania
300 at New Hampshire International
Speedway. Newman passed Tony Stewart
on the
second-to-last lap, and moved from tenth to third in
the points race.
A tussle with Scott Riggs left
reigning champion Kurt Busch with
a 35th-place
finish and struck a blow to his title defense.

September 10, 2005

Ryan Newman benefits from Jamie McMurray's lap 362 crash to claim the final spot in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Fan favor­ites Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., fail to qualify for The Chase.

October 15, 2005: UAW-GM Quality 500

NASCAR mandates minimum tire pressures and institutes competition ­cautions to check pressures during the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Twenty-two cautions had flown at the track in the May race, and 15 more followed in the fall, many due to blown tires. The track was scheduled to be repaved prior to the 2006 events. Jimmie Johnson recovers from a blown tire to win his fourth straight race at Lowe's.

November 10, 2005

NASCAR announces owners will be limited to fielding four teams during the 2006 campaign. The ruling will most affect Roush Racing, which has qualified all five of its teams for the 10-car Chase for NASCAR NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Roush will be allowed to field five teams for the duration of existing sponsor contracts, and teams that field developmental drivers on a part-time basis will be allowed to exceed the limit.

Jimmie Johnson drives in the 2005 MBNA RacePoints 400, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series event.
Jimmie Johnson pushes his #48 Chevrolet under the
checkered flag ahead of
Kyle Busch to win the
Sept. 25 MBNA RacePoints 400 at Dover International
Raceway. Johnson held off Kyle Busch in an overtime
two-lap shootout.
The win boosted Johnson from sixth
to first in the points race. After the
first two races in
the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,
six of the
ten Chase qualifiers were within 23
points of first place.

November 20, 2005: Ford 400

Ricky Rudd finishes 37th in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Raceway, then retires. The race marked Rudd's 788th consecutive start, a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup record that may never be broken. The streak started in 1981.

November 20, 2005

Tony Stewart holds on for a 15th place finish to wrap up the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Greg Biffle edges out Mark Martin at the ­finish line and moves from fourth to second in the final standings.

December 7
, 2005

NASCAR announces it has signed an eight-year, $4.48 billion television contract with ABC, ESPN, FOX, and TNT that will be effective starting with the 2007 season.

Get the final picture of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup field with the easy-to-read standings chart on the next page.

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