Kyle Busch took his 200th NASCAR win by producing a dominant display in the Cup Series race at Fontana.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver won all three stages and led 134 laps out of 200 to claim his 53rd premier series victory.
It wasn’t a completely drama-free race for the 2015 Cup series champion though, as he was handed a pitlane speeding penalty between the second and third stages.
It took him just nine laps to get back into the top 10 following the infraction, and a late race caution brought out by a tyre blowout for Bubba Wallace effectively gave Busch a free pitstop halfway through the final stage as he had stayed out while other frontrunners pitted under green.
The Ford pair ran first and second at that final restart with Busch hot on their heels, but five laps after the restart Busch breezed past both and wouldn’t be challenged for the final 26 laps.
Busch maintained a gap of around 2.4 seconds over Logano in the final stages of the race, eventually crossing the line 2.35s ahead of the reigning champion – making it the first time he had come back from a pitlane penalty to win.
The victory was Busch’s 53rd in Cup, but his 200th across the three major NASCAR championships – drawing him level with Richard Petty overall, although all Petty’s wins came in the top tier.
Busch claims 200th NASCAR win despite penalty
Busch had been on the cusp of the 200 mark since his sweep of all three series at Phoenix a week earlier, and could have claimed it in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Fontana had Cole Custer not held him off in the final battle.
Keselowski, who led 42 laps while Busch was back in the pack, finished third ahead of Kevin Harvick.
Ryan Blaney finished fifth – he was the only leading driver not to put during the final caution period, having made a green flag stop a few laps prior.
That arguably cost him a chance at victory as his tyres were marginally older than the leaders on the final restart.
Kurt Busch continued his run as the strongest Chevrolet driver of 2019 with a sixth place finish for Ganassi, ahead of Denny Hamlin – who led eight laps early on.
Martin Truex Jr rallied back from early race contact with a spinning Ricky Stenhouse Jr to finish eighth, with Aric Almirola and polesitter Austin Dillon completing the top 10.
Dillion nearly didn’t run the race after falling ill overnight. Haas Xfinity driver Custer was on standby to step in, being the only second-tier series driver left in California able to call up.
His services weren’t needed with Dillion completing the race, and running in the top 10 for much of the 400-mile event.
Race resultPos Driver Team Car Laps Gap 1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 200 2h47m42.s 2 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 200 2.354s 3 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 200 4.037s 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 200 9.146s 5 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 200 9.241s 6 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 200 9.820s 7 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 200 13.178s 8 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 200 13.313s 9 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 200 17.949s 10 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 200 20.084s 11 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 20.715s 12 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 200 24.401s 13 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 200 24.421s 14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 200 28.059s 15 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 28.377s 16 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 200 28.424s 17 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 31.131s 18 Matt DiBenedetto Leavine Family Racing Toyota 200 33.800s 19 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 200 35.571s 20 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 200 36.692s 21 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 37.562s 22 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 199 1 Lap 23 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 199 1 Lap 24 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 198 2 Laps 25 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 198 2 Laps 26 Matt Tifft Front Row Motorsports Ford 197 3 Laps 27 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 197 3 Laps 28 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 195 5 Laps 29 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 195 5 Laps 30 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 194 6 Laps 31 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 193 7 Laps 32 Cody Ware Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet 192 8 Laps 33 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 192 8 Laps 34 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 192 8 Laps 35 Joey Gase MBM Motorsports Toyota 188 12 Laps 36 Garrett Smithley Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 188 12 Laps 37 B.J. McLeod Rick Ware Racing Ford 172 28 Laps 38 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 130 Overheating Drivers’ standings
Pos Driver Points 1 Kyle Busch 237 2 Joey Logano 222 3 Kevin Harvick 213 4 Denny Hamlin 205 5 Brad Keselowski 176 6 Aric Almirola 174 7 Martin Truex Jr. 169 8 Kyle Larson 163 9 Kurt Busch 160 10 Ryan Blaney 155 11 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 146 12 Chase Elliott 135 13 Erik Jones 133 14 Jimmie Johnson 121 15 Clint Bowyer 119 16 Alex Bowman 110 17 Ryan Newman 107 18 Daniel Suarez 105 19 William Byron 104 20 Austin Dillon 103 21 Paul Menard 98 22 Chris Buescher 94 23 Ty Dillon 84 24 Matt DiBenedetto 76 25 Ryan Preece 61 26 David Ragan 61 27 Daniel Hemric 58 28 Michael McDowell 54 29 Corey LaJoie 54 30 Darrell Wallace Jr. 49 31 Matt Tifft 41 32 Landon Cassill 33 33 Jamie McMurray 19 34 Cody Ware 17 35 Quin Houff 7 36 Reed Sorenson 4 37 Casey Mears 1 38 Ross Chastain 0 39 Parker Kligerman 0 40 B.J. McLeod 0 41 Brendan Gaughan 0 42 Tyler Reddick 0 43 Bayley Currey 0 44 Joey Gase 0 45 Garrett Smithley 0 46 Ryan Truex 0
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