Kyle Busch Sweeps the Weekend at Fontana!
Kyle Busch was able to complete the weekend sweep at Auto Club Speedway this weekend with a thrilling finish in which he managed to avoid an accident coming out of turn four to take the checkered flag in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400.
Unfortunately that accident involved his teammate Denny Hamlin, who was racing Joey Logano for the win, but was sent spinning down across the track after contact from the 22 car. The No. 11 Camry hit hard into the inside wall of Auto Club Speedway. Hamlin was taken to the infield care center where he complained of back pain. He was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. He would be officially scored in 25th position for the race.
Meanwhile Matt Kenseth battled back from a lap down to finish seventh.
The win by Busch is the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for JGR at Auto Club Speedway and the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series of his young career. All three JGR cars were once again strong and took their turns at the front of the field as the three Camrys combined to lead a total of 138 of the 200 laps. This just one week after the three led 258 of the 500 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Busch qualified the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the fourth position and it was clear from the drop of the green flag that he would have one of the strongest cars in the field. Busch, who won the Nationwide Series race yesterday, was good on both short runs following restarts and even during the longer green flag runs as he managed to hold off many challengers throughout the day. Busch would lead seven different times on the day for a total of 125 laps. He was leading late in the race but was on older tires which helped Hamlin and the No. 22 car to slide past him with just a few laps remaining. Busch showed tremendous fight, to first hold onto the third position over the final laps, and then to get back close to the two leaders when they battled on the final lap for the win. Busch took the high lane coming out of turn four on the final lap and as Logano came up into the inside of Hamlin drawing contact and causing the accident, the Interstate Batteries Camry regained the top spot one last time to claim victory.
Kenseth qualified his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the fifth position but when the second and third place cars went to the back of the field for the drop of the green flag because of changes to their engines, he was able to slide up to start alongside Hamlin when the pole winner chose to start on the outside lane. That allowed Kenseth to get off to a fast start as he took the lead for the first 10 laps of the race. Kenseth would eventually give way to his teammate Busch, but remained strong throughout and certainly proved capable of competing for the win. Contact from the 16 car about midway through the race would send Kenseth to pit road for an unscheduled stop to repair damage to the left rear and for fresh tires. The Dollar General Camry would fall a lap down as a result of the stop, but fortunately a caution would come just a few laps later and allow Kenseth to take the lucky dog to get back on the lead lap. He would restart 25th on lap 121. He would manage to gain several positions on the next run and then a two-tire stop would get him back into the top ten. Kenseth was hoping to get his Dollar General Toyota back to the leaders on the final run, but was hit from behind by the No. 17 car on the final restart and would lose several spots before regaining momentum to drive back to a solid seventh-place finish.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota on the pole and spent much of his day racing in the top five. Pit strategy would shuffle the field over the final quarter of the race, but Hamlin found himself back inside the top five for the final laps and with his Camry as good as it had been all day. With the laps winding down Hamlin drove his way up into second position with just a couple of laps remaining. The FedEx Express moved to the outside lane and appeared set to make the pass for the win, but Logano moved up into him making contact along the left side of his Camry and causing the two to wreck. Hamlin was sent spinning down across the track and into the inside wall. He would be scored the first car a lap down in 25th.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr was second behind Busch, while Logano managed to cross the line third, followed by Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch. There were nine cautions for a total of 35 laps and 17 lead changes among eight different drivers.