Kyle Busch Wins at Auto Club
By: Andrew N
Kyle Busch wins final 2-mile race at Auto Club Speedway
In just his second race in the #8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Richard Childress Racing, Kyle Busch took home the checkered flag at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA late Sunday afternoon. Busch’s win (the 61st of his Cup career) locks him into the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs alongside Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, and broke a tie with Kevin Harvick for 9th-place on NASCAR’s all-time wins list. The win also broke a tie with Richard Petty for most consecutive seasons with at least one victory. Busch now stands alone at the top of that list, having won for the 19th consecutive year.
Kyle Busch’s first career win came at Auto Club all the way back in 2005, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, and his win on Sunday, his first in a Chevy after leaving HMS and moving to JGR in 2008, was his fifth in the Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway, the most of any active driver.
With all weekend activities (practice + qualifying) canceled due to race and snow, the field was set due to NASCAR’s qualifying formula which combines current points standings (35%) with finishing position in the prior race (50%) as well as fastest lap from the prior race (15%). Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing was awarded the pole with Stenhouse, Jr starting alongside him on the front row in 2nd. Kyle Busch started the race in 21st but roared the front early.
Busch was tagged for speeding on lap 43 after working his way into the top-10. The penalty forced him to restart in 31st and he would not earn any stage points in the first stage after battling back from the penalty to finish 11th. He came to life in Stage 2, however, finishing 2nd behind Ross Chastain, and would lead 27 laps on the day en route to his victory.
Stage and Final Race results:
Stage 1 Top-10: Chastain, Blaney, Suarez, Bowman, Hamlin, Byron, Logano, Harvick, Truex Jr, Elliott
Stage 2 Top-10: Chastain, Busch, Logano, Harvick, Suarez, Hamlin, Elliott, Bowman, Keselowski, LaJoie
Top-10 Finishers: Busch, Elliott, Chastain, Suarez, Harvick, Hamlin, Keselowski, Bowman, ADillon, Logano
Other Notes from the race:
- Auto Club Speedway will not host a Cup race in 2024 as it undergoes its conversion from a 2-mile speedway to a 0.5-mile short track.
- A nine-car crash during Stage 2 took out many of the leaders, including pole sitter Christopher Bell, Aric Almirola, Ryan Preece, Tyler Reddick, and Justin Haley
- Kevin Harvick led for five laps in his final run at his hometown track; Sunday’s race marked his 750th consecutive start in the NASCAR Cup Series
- Ross Chastain swept the stages for the first time in his Cup career
- Kyle Larson was a favorite coming into the day, but engine issues relegated him to a 29th place finish, multiple laps down
- Martin Truex, Jr. was forced to the back on lap 31 for removing equipment (a tire rolled into the adjacent pit box during a stop)
- After almost winning this race in 2022, Daniel Suarez finished P4 for back-to-back top-5s at Auto Club Speedway
NASCAR’s West Coast Swing continues next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast on FOX on Sunday at 3:30pm ET.
Race points for the Pala Casino 400 and Cup Series Standings below: