Kyle Busch, in just his second regular-season start for his new team, took the lead with 21 laps left Sunday and won the Pala Casino 400 in the final NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
After having a good Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the Daytona 500 but wrecking at the end, Busch won for the fifth time overall at ACS but first in the No.8 for RCR by passing Michael McDowell, who stayed out hoping for a late caution.
Busch, 37, beat Chase Elliott by about three seconds for his 61st career win. He won a Cup race for the 19th consecutive season — a NASCAR record.
“It ranks high,” Busch said of the triumph, “because I can do it. I never doubted myself, but sometimes you do. You kind of get down and you wonder what’s happening.”
Busch and Ross Chastain came out of the pits together with 33 circuits to go, but third-place finisher Chastain fell way off the pace set by the Las Vegas native Busch and dropped seven seconds back.
“He got faster,” said Chastain, who led a race-high 91 laps.”I thought we did everything right.”
Daniel Suarez and Kevin Harvick completed the top five as Chevrolet swept the top four spots.
The 47-year-old Harvick, a native of Bakersfield, Calif., started in his 750th consecutive Cup Series race and was the top-finishing Ford.
With ACS’ land recently sold by NASCAR and the sanctioning body retaining just 89 acres with plans for a short track, the 36 drivers prepared to dial in their cars as they embarked on one final 200-lap run around the speedway an hour east of Los Angeles.
Chastain was able to maneuver his No.1 Chevrolet to win Stage 1. The 65-lap first stage was an important one, since the exhibition Clash at the tiny Los Angeles Coliseum short track and betmatik last Sunday’s Daytona 500 at the massive, high-speed superspeedway were unusual races and not indicative of the 36-race schedule.
A Lap 87 restart triggered the race’s biggest incident with Joey Logano out front.
In a wild 10-car melee — uncommon at the spacious track, where drivers logged pace laps five-wide before the first green flag — Logano didn’t get on the throttle right away, betmatik and bit.ly the cars behind him began to check up.
Christopher Bell’s No.20 Toyota received the worst damage in the largest wreck by number of cars in the track’s 33-race history.
Chastain set a blistering pace in Stage 2, beating Busch to the line by over six seconds.
–Field Level Media