News & Multimedia

Kyle Busch Wins Thrilling Auto Club 400

In a race that saw tire problems turn the contest upside-down, Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the year six laps past its scheduled distance.

The first driver on four fresh tires for a restart on Lap 205 at Auto Club Speedway, Busch passed Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart on the next-to-last lap, bringing rookie Kyle Larson with him.

Able to keep Larson behind him on the final lap, Busch crossed the finish line .214 seconds ahead of the 21-year-old, who had won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the two-mile track one day earlier.

The victory was Busch’s second straight and third overall at Fontana, his first of the season and the 29th of his career. Kurt Busch, who like Stewart took right-side tires only on the final pit stop on Lap 200, ran third, followed by polesitter Matt Kenseth and Stewart.

Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, AJ Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Carl Edwards completed the top 10.

“I knew four tires was going to win the race, so I’m glad (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) called that,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “There was some great racing up front between Tony and Kurt there. It was really interesting to watch that.

“I went into Turn 1 thinking I’m going to run the middle and then Tony started sliding off the bottom and I’m like, ‘Nope, not having it.’ I had to get some brake and cut my car to the left and drove underneath him and got him cleared off Turn 2, and I was able to keep Kyle Larson behind me.”

Though he ran second, Larson nevertheless earned Busch’s admiration in the process.

“Man, what a shoe that boy is,” Busch said. “If he would have gotten alongside of me, it would have been a whale of a race. I drove off into Turn 3, but I heard ‘Car inside’ on my left.

“If he drove it in further than I did, Jesus must have told him to stop… What an awesome race this track produced!”

Larson was surprised he was able to reach second place after restarting ninth in the bottom lane for the green-white-checker.

“I was thinking I was going to line up eighth,” Larson said, “but then the 40 (Landon Cassill) stayed out, and I had to line up on the bottom, and I was disappointed because the bottom had been getting jammed up once we got to Turn 1. I was surprised--I just watched it on TV and it was pretty wild--we were four wide there into (Turn) 1.

“Came out in fourth there, I think, and then got to second off Turn 2 the next lap and thought I might have a shot at Kyle, depending on where he'd go into Turn 3. But he was good enough to keep it on the bottom and stay ahead of me. But we'll take second. Long race and definitely didn't expect to run second, so I'll take it and head back to North Carolina with a smile on my face.”

Until the final five laps, the race had all the makings of a routine victory by Jimmie Johnson, who had a commanding lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon as the event approached the regulation distance of 400 miles.

But Johnson, who led 104 laps, blew a left front tire and drove his car to pit road, handing Gordon the lead. No caution.

Brad Keselowski suffered his third left rear tire failure a lap later but stayed out of harm’s way. No caution. The same fate befell Marcos Ambrose on the same lap. No caution.

Finally, when Clint Bowyer’s Toyota spun on lap 198, thanks to a flat left rear tire, NASCAR called the caution that set up the two-lap dash to the finish.

The tire issues that surfaced during Saturday’s practice sessions—particularly in the left rear position—plagued drivers throughout the race, not just at the finish. Kevin Harvick caused the first caution on Lap 18 when his left rear tire blew.

Harvick charged through the field and was running third on Lap 138 when another blown left rear forced him to pit road. With tire debris strewn across the backstretch, NASCAR called a caution on Lap 141, with Johnson in the lead.

Keselowski, who suffered two flat left rears during Saturday’s practice, had two more during the race but both yellow flags rescued him in both cases. Twice Keselowski brought the No. 2 Ford to pit road under caution with the tire soft, escaping a failure at speed that could have damaged the car.

But the third failure, in the closing laps, dropped the 2012 series champion to 26th at the finish.

The race winner, though, had no tire problems and suggested that other teams might have been overly aggressive in lowering tire pressures.

Notes: Gordon was shuffled back on the final restart and finished 13th… Johnson came home 24th, the last driver on the lead lap… Menard, who skipped Friday’s qualifying to be with his wife after the birth of their daughter, posted his ninth-place finish after starting from the rear of the field because of the driver change. Matt Crafton had qualified the car… Sam Hornish Jr. ran 17th in Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota, after Hamlin left the track for a local hospital before the race to treat a sinus infection that impaired his vision. Hornish had been at the track on standby for Matt Kenseth, whose wife Katie is expecting the couple’s third daughter.
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Kyle Busch Wins Thrilling Auto Club 400
 
Kyle Busch Wins Thrilling Auto Club 400
In a race that saw tire problems turn the contest upside-down, Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Auto Club 400 in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the year six laps past its scheduled distance.
Read More
Related Media
Brad Keselowski
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Keselowski’s Clutch Win at Talladega Seals Eliminator Berth
Brad Keselowski pulled off the improbable win in his No. 2 Ford, overcoming an early incident to climb back into the perilous Talladega drafts and then surviving the final furious laps to win by .141 of a second over Matt Kenseth. The 2012 champion advanced to the “Eliminator” round, which begins this weekend at Martinsville.
Read More
James Hinchcliffe Drives a Vintage Porsche
 
Hinchcliffe Tests Legendary Sports Cars at IMS
The three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner was tasked by R&T to test drive a Porsche 962, one of the most legendary sports cars on the planet, alongside Porsche’s new 918, at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an upcoming issue.
Read More
Marc Marquez
 
Marquez Retains MotoGP Crown in Motegi
The 2014 MotoGP World title was clinched by Marc Marquez at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan as he finished in second place behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo, with Valentino Rossi also on the podium.
Read More
Kevin Harvick
 
Harvick Wins in Charlotte
With the dominant car in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick led 162 laps and survived a wild two-lap dash to the finish after the final caution en route to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season and a free pass into the Eliminator Round of the Chase.
Read More
Marc Marquez
 
Monday Racing Roundup: Marquez Clinches MotoGP Title at Motegi
On Sunday, the Repsol Honda rider became the youngest two-time world champion in the premier class by finishing second to Jorge Lorenzo at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan at Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,761
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Phil Sparks at (317) 492-6463 or email at psparks@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
RT @FollowAndretti: Reliving the final six laps of this year's #Indy500 with our @DHLAmericas friends. We've got goosebumps (again)! http:/…
about 6 hours ago