Kyle Busch sneaks through to steal win in Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway

by Ashley McCubbin On Sun, Mar. 24, 2013

Photo Credit: Don Dunn

When the field took the white flag, everybody knew that it’d be a finish for the ages. After all, it was Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano battling side-by-side for the win. The pair had a run-in the previous week at Bristol Motor Speedway that included some words after the race.

While the pair fought side-by-side through turns three and four, Kyle Busch would make it three-wide, sneaking past them both to take the victory.

“They forgot about me,” Busch commented in victory lane. “I knew they were going, but I thought the spotter would tell them the 18 was coming and to stop messing around. It’s so fun to come out here and perform like this. It’s been three years in the making.”

It marks Busch’s 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career victory, his first of 2013. It also marks his second victory at Auto Club Speedway, but the first for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“When they both went to the bottom side of three and four, I thought this was golden and knew I had enough room on the outside,” Busch continued. “I just put my peddle down and went for it.”

Meanwhile, behind Busch, Hamlin and Logano would make contact causing Logano to bounce off the wall while Hamlin would go sliding down the track hard into the inside wall. Hamlin has been transported to the hospital as a result of back pains, as reported on SPEED. Logano would finish third, while Hamlin finished 25th.

“We worked it last week,” Logano said. “He probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets.”

Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would sneak through the wreck to finish second and take over the points lead. He would make a late charge through the field from 24th to second in eight laps after struggling with the handling late in the race. It marks his fifth straight top 10 finish this year and his sixth top 10 at Auto Club Speedway in 21 starts.

“Well, I got one of the best strategists on the box, and I got an outside row restart which was crucial to progression,” he said. “We made the most of it. The car was a top-5 car most of the day. We got off sequence, but it sorted out and we hammered it home there late.”

Earnhardt Jr. now has the points lead, 12 points ahead of Keselowski.

Carl Edwards would finish fourth, followed by Kurt Busch. Greg Biffle would finish sixth, followed by Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.

Meanwhile, Stewart who finished 22nd, was not happy with Logano after the race. He confronted Logano after pit road, displaying his displeasure about the final restart. Logano pulled down to block Stewart, in which Stewart did not agree Logano doing.

“Joey spun the tires on the restart – everybody had the trouble with that,” Stewart said. “It’s not my fault. For him to complain about how everybody else is driving and then do that, it’s a double standard. He made the choice. He made the choice to drive us down there and you take the consequences there. He’s all tough once he gets one of his crew guys around him but till then, he’s a little scared kid. I’m going to get him. He’s going to run his mouth on twitter, and I’m going to have people watching for that. He’s nothing but a spoiled rich kid and it’s time he’s taught a lesson. He’s gonna learn from us working guys who had to come up working to get where we are. He’s talked the talk, but he hasn’t walked the walk. If he ever turns down across in front of me again, I don’t care what lap it is, he won’t make it to the other end of it. After he threw a water bottle at me like a little girl, we’ll go at it now.”

“The 18 spun his tires and I was trying to peddle it cause you can’t pass the leader before the line,” Logano said. “I understand he is upset about that. if it was any earlier in the race, it would be dumb to do. With it being the end of the race, I had to run him down there to protect the position to win the race. ”

The 400-mile event saw seven cautions with the first coming out on lap 29 for David Stremme spinning. Timmy Hill would blow up on lap 37 for the second caution, with debris bringing out the third caution on lap 91.

The fourth caution would come out with 84 to go when Joe Nemechek would get into the wall with a flat tire. With 70 to go, Ambrose was slow on the track to bring out the fifth caution.

With 25 to go, Mark Martin would go spinning on the backstraightaway after contact with David Gilliland for the sixth caution. The last caution came out with 15 laps to go for Clint Bowyer blowing up.

Unofficial Race Results
Auto Club 400, Auto Club Speedway
Pos. St. No. Driver Make Points
1 4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 48
2 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 42
3 6 22 Joey Logano Ford 42
4 24 99 Carl Edwards Ford 40
5 10 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 39
6 2 16 Greg Biffle Ford 38
7 5 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 38
8 27 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 36
9 16 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 35
10 20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 34
11 19 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 33
12 18 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 32
13 14 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 32
14 23 43 Aric Almirola Ford 30
15 11 13 Casey Mears Ford 29
16 26 51 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 28
17 22 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 27
18 7 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 26
19 17 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 25
20 31 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # Ford 24
21 29 7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 23
22 8 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 23
23 3 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 21
24 42 34 David Ragan Ford 21
25 1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 20
26 40 10 Danica Patrick # Chevrolet 18
27 37 36 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 17
28 25 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 16
29 34 38 David Gilliland Ford 15
30 36 33 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 14
31 32 30 David Stremme Toyota 13
32 43 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Toyota 0
33 28 83 David Reutimann Toyota 11
34 33 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 11
35 13 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 9
36 21 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 8
37 9 55 Mark Martin Toyota 7
38 12 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 6
39 39 32 Timmy Hill # Ford 5
40 30 35 Josh Wise(i) Ford 0
41 38 44 Scott Riggs Ford 3
42 35 98 Michael McDowell Ford 2
43 41 19 Mike Bliss(i) Toyota 0
** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c) **

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