Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Cup Race at Auto Club Speedway, Passes Richard Petty
Throughout NASCAR’s history, the sanctioning body has never wanted one team to dominate. The fact that seven different teams finished in the top 10 Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, showed there could be no shortage of different winners this year.
Richard Childress Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Hendrick Motorsports were the only three teams that had two finishers in the top 10.
Kyle Busch, in his first year with RCR, snapped a 28-race winless streak to collect his 61st career Cup Series victory, his fifth at the 2-mile speedway and the 114th for RCR. Busch now possesses a record of 19 consecutive seasons with at least one victory in the Cup Series. RCR teammate Austin Dillon finished ninth.
The 19 consecutive seasons with a win breaks a record that Busch shared with Richard Petty.
Ross Chastain led Trackhouse’s effort. He won the first two Stages for the first time in his career and was the top lap leader, setting the pace five times for 91 laps. He placed third, while teammate Daniel Suarez fought back from a pit road speeding penalty on lap 68 to finish fourth.
Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman were the top Hendrick performers. Elliott collected second, his best finish at Auto Club Speedway, while Bowman finished eighth.
The other top 10 finishes went to Stewart-Haas Racing (Kevin Harvick, fifth), Joe Gibbs Racing (Denny Hamlin, sixth), RFK Racing (Brad Keselowski, seventh) and Team Penske (Joey Logano, 10th).
Nine Car Wreck Is Largest in Speedway’s History
A nine-car wreck—the largest in Auto Club Speedway history—eliminated four victory contenders from the race.
The incident occurred on the Lap 88 restart when those at the front of the pack didn’t take off in the restart zone when others anticipated they would. That created a stack up in the middle of the field that sent cars spinning in several directions. Eliminated from the race were Ryan Preece, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Aric Almirola.
“I think the leader was just playing games, trying to prevent the runs coming from behind,” Almirola said. “They stopped in the middle of the restart zone was right about where they should have been accelerating. It was just a huge accordion effect.”
Almirola was in 16th at the time and had just shifted from second to third gear when the accident occurred.
“It’s disappointing to get wrecked out of the race like that on a silly Mickey Mouse restart, but I should have known better,” Almirola said.
Preece agreed with his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, calling the situation “kind of stupid.” He said he was a victim of circumstances.
Electrical Woes Plague Larson
Defending race winner Kyle Larson was a favorite to win this year’s event, but an electrical problem in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet just 15 laps into the Pala Casino 400 dashed his victory hopes.
Larson eventually returned to the 200-lap race 16 laps off the pace. He finished 29thin the 36-car field.
Sellout Crowd for Final Race
NASCAR announced Sunday morning that the final race at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway was a sellout.
Last month at the Busch Light Clash, it was announced the track wouldn’t be on the 2024 schedule because plans were to reconfigure it. During the Cup telecast Sunday on Fox, it was announced that NASCAR had sold 80 percent of the Auto Club Speedway land parcel. Ninety acres had been kept and parking would be leased if needed once the track was reconfigured.
The sale price could not be immediately confirmed, but the Sports Business Journal reported that documents showed a transfer tax payment of $598,064, which through California’s real estate conversion rate suggests that NASCAR sold the land for about $544 million.
Strangly, NASCAR and Auto Club Speedway officials have yet to confirm the new configuration or if the track will even be ready for the 2024 or 2025 schedule.
NASCAR Cup Series Race - Pala Casino 400
Auto Club Speedway
1. (21) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 200.
2. (33) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.
3. (8) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 200.
4. (7) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 200.
5. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 200.
6. (13) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.
7. (16) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.
8. (4) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 200.
9. (28) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
10. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
11. (14) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 200.
12. (2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 200.
13. (5) Chris Buescher, Ford, 200.
14. (12) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 200.
15. (24) Harrison Burton, Ford, 200.
16. (23) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 200.
17. (25) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 200.
18. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 200.
19. (34) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 200.
20. (31) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 200.
21. (29) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 199.
22. (20) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 199.
23. (22) JJ Yeley, Ford, 199.
24. (30) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 199.
25. (32) William Byron, Chevrolet, 198.
26. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 196.
27. (11) Cody Ware, Ford, 195.
28. (19) Austin Cindric, Ford, 194.
29. (15) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 185.
30. (18) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Engine, 172.
31. (36) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Engine, 140.
32. (1) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 88.
33. (27) Ryan Preece, Ford, Accident, 87.
34. (35) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, Accident, 87.
35. (17) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 86.
36. (6) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 75.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 127.603 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.998 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 38 laps.
Lead Changes: 28 among 13 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Bell 1;A. Bowman 2-17;R. Chastain 18-27;J. Logano 28-29;R. Blaney 30-42;J. Logano 43;R. Blaney 44-46;R. Chastain 47-67;A. Bowman 68;R. Chastain 69-72;D. Hamlin 73-74;J. Logano 75-76;A. Dillon 77-79;N. Gragson # 80;J. Logano 81-92;D. Hamlin 93-97;R. Chastain 98-132;J. Logano 133;K. Harvick 134-137;K. Busch 138-141;J. Logano 142;K. Busch 143-144;K. Harvick 145;R. Chastain 146-166;C. Elliott 167;D. Hamlin 168-171;B. Keselowski 172-173;M. McDowell 174-179;K. Busch 180-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ross Chastain 5 times for 91 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 27 laps; Joey Logano 6 times for 19 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 17 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 16 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 11 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 6 laps; Kevin Harvick 2 times for 5 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 3 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 1 lap; Noah Gragson # 1 time for 1 lap; Christopher Bell 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 1,12,99,48,11,24,22,4,19,9
Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,8,22,4,99,11,9,48,6,7