FONTANA, Calif. – With tires and tempers blowing up all over the track in Sunday’s Auto Club 400, Kyle Busch stayed relatively calm and relied on his remarkable knack for big finishes at Auto Club Speedway.
Busch won on the 2-mile oval for the second consecutive year, holding off runner-up Kyle Larson and older brother Kurt Busch, who was third, on a frantic two-lap sprint to the finish in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that featured a track-record 35 lead changes.
“Holy cow, what do you expect when you’ve got a green-white-checkered finish and everybody has to come down pit road and put four tires on?” Las Vegas native Kyle Busch asked after his 29th career Cup victory and third in Fontana. “That was ‘Days of Thunder’ right there. Unbelievable day.”
He is the fifth winner in five races at NASCAR’s top level this season. He led a mere five laps — the fewest of his career in a victory.
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Jimmie Johnson was comfortably in front when he blew a tire with seven laps left, precipitating the wild finish. Jeff Gordon moved in front until Clint Bowyer spun with two laps to go, setting up an overtime finish.
“I came off the fourth turn in disbelief that we won this thing, because we were mediocre all day,” Kyle Busch said.
Larson, a 21-year-old rookie, said, “We were probably a 12th-place car for most of the day.”
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., finished 40th and Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw was 41st out of 43.