Kyle Busch sneaks through to steal win in Auto Club 400 at Auto Club SpeedwayBy Ashley McCubbin
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|
|2||15||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||42|
|18||7||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||26|
|20||31||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #||Ford||24|
|26||40||10||Danica Patrick #||Chevrolet||18|
|38||12||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet||6|
|39||39||32||Timmy Hill #||Ford||5|