Friday, Mar 31

Can’t Tame Rowdy Busch, But Harvick Beats Out everyone

Kyle came into Auto Club Speedway and started off in the hole, in practice before even turning his qualifying laps, lost control of the 18 M&M’s car coming off turn four and plowed through the infield front stretch, tearing up the front end of his car on the first lap of practice, having to return to the garage and go to a back‐up car.

“We had the car all ready to go and all of the sudden the first lap out I decided the guys didn't have enough work today. So, we had to come in and get the backup out and we went through everything trying to make sure we had a good enough car just to get a lap on it at least in practice. Guys did a great job there and hustled along pretty well. Made some changes there for qualifying and got it pretty close to where we needed it. That's good enough. That's solid enough that we'll take that and wherever it winds up and we can race them from there on Sunday”

After bringing out the backup car the hauler and prepping it for qualifying, went out and threw down a 8th place starting for the Auto Club 400. "The car felt really good. They did a really good job getting it close. Laid down a decent lap. We knew we weren't going to go set a pole run. We'll take that and we can see the front from there and we'll be able to race." Said Busch.

Starting 8th in the Royal Purple 300 it wasn’t long before Busch made his way to the front and lead the race winning again for a second week in a row in the Nationwide series.

"This is so cool. You know why? It's because we stole this one. We didn't really deserve it. The guys made some great race calls. The car didn't deserve it, but these guys worked hard and gave me a great race car today where I could keep pace and see the leaders. When we came down for that final pit stop, we were going to take four (tires) and we thought, 'We're not going to win this thing taking four tires, so we ought to gamble here and get two.' That's what we did. I can't thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough. He made a great race call there. It's cool to come out here and win in California – win in front of the west coast fans. Being from Vegas it's extra special on this side."

The weekend of action didn’t stop there as the Sprint Cup Series took to the track on a rainy and partly cloudy day. After rain on and off pretty much the entire the morning the track was ready for the green flag to fall, and making for very loose conditions.

For the first 50 or so laps, many of the drivers complained of a loose race track, several of which hitting the wall in the opening laps, including reining Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne who flattened the right side of his Wood Brothers Ford, but did not bring the caution out.

When the day started rolling it looked like it would be another all Kyle Busch weekend who took the lead on lap 22, leading 5 times for 107 laps.

Yet the real action of the day came with less than 10 to go after Bobby Labonte smacked the wall and limped to the entrance of pit road before coming to a rest, forcing track official to dust off the tow truck for the first time of the day and move him.

This setup a run to the finish in which made for a three way battle between Kyle Busch, and two California born drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. Johnson made the first moves on Busch when he took his No. 48 Lowes Chevy way to the bottom of the track pulling along side of Busch then falling back by several car lengths, all the while setting up Harvick to move up on the two battling for the lead.

By the time Harvick made it to the front, Johnson had passed Busch for the final time. With 3 laps left to go, Busch car got loose giving Harvick the chance to pass and set his sights on Johnson.

“I knew I had a little left in the tank on the last restart. I didn't want the fenders to be knocked in and not have a chance. There were several times where I was probably a little too conservative, but with the high line up there, you don't have much room for air.” Said Harvick.

Heading to the white flag, Harvick feel just off the back of Johnson’s Chevy, going down the back Busch poured back on a charge but with Harvick drafting Johnson, Harvick whipped by Johnson coming off the final turn and drag racing down the front stretch leading less than one lap and winning the Auto Club 400.

“For me coming to the white, I had a great run off of turn four and was able to get right on him. Rolling into one, my whole goal was to not give it away. If I could make the pass, fine. If not, just don't overdrive it getting into the corner, make sure you get the pedal down as soon as you can and roll through the middle, not get in the fence, not screw anything up.”


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