Ky. Busch continues Nationwide hot streak with Fontana win
Fontana, CA – Kyle Busch won a Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway for a record-extending sixth time by putting on a dominating performance in Saturday's Royal Purple 300.
Busch started on the pole and led 92 of 150 laps. Sam Hornish Jr., the current points leader, and Busch exchanged the lead six different times before Busch passed Hornish for good with 25 laps remaining.
Hornish gained ground on Busch in the closing laps, but scraped the wall with less than two laps to go and ended up finishing 0.8 seconds behind Busch.
"I don't think we were the best car today, but I got up on the wheel there at the end and just chased down that 12 car (Hornish)," Busch said. "He was really, really good today."
Busch claimed his 54th career Nationwide win. He also gave Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota its ninth straight win in the series at this 2-mile Southern California racetrack.
Last year, Busch did not score a Nationwide victory while driving for his own team. He agreed to drive the No. 54 Toyota for JGR during the offseason, and since then, the 27-year-old has won three of the first five races.
The last driver not with JGR to win a Nationwide race at Fontana was Jeff Burton, who took a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to victory lane here in September 2007.
Busch has won six of the last eight Nationwide races at this track for JGR. Joey Logano won here in October 2009 and again one year ago. Logano drove a Nationwide car for the team from 2008-12. He is now with Penske Racing. Tony Stewart took the checkered flag for the spring race here in 2008 when he was driving for JGR.
Crew chief Adam Stevens is guiding Busch's efforts in Nationwide this season. Stevens served as Logano's crew chief when Logano won at Fontana last year.
"It's pretty special to win back-to-back," Stevens said. "This is a tough place to race and win. There's just so many grooves that you can run, and the track surface is aging, which is fun. The tires fall off, and you can get alternate pit-stop strategies if you have a couple quick cautions. All of that makes it remarkable that Joe Gibbs Racing has been able to win now nine in a row."
Hornish's second-place run allowed him to take a 28-point over Regan Smith, who finished third.
"We just didn't have enough to beat Kyle today," said Hornish, who led the second most laps with 28. "We ran hard and got the lead on the restart a couple times. He would run real hard on the first 50 to 75-percent of the run and slide the car around and wear it out, and we would catch him the last 25- percent. We were doing it again on the last run, and I just got within about 10 car lengths of him and got greedy and drove it in too hard and got into the wall."
Parker Kligerman, who drives the No. 77 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon and rookie Kyle Larson.
Elliott Sadler, in his first year with JGR, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne and Kevin Swindell, also a rookie this year, completed the top-10.
The Nationwide Series is off for the next two weeks before returning to action for its first night race of the year on April 12 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Sprint Cup Series will run its 400-mile race at Fontana tomorrow. JGR has yet win a Cup race here. Busch qualified fourth but will start on the outside pole since Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski have to go to the rear of the field after making engine changes on their Fords prior to qualifying. Busch's teammate, Denny Hamlin, won the pole for that event.
"I think its pretty cool that you can see a team go to a racetrack and dominate like that in a series," Busch said. "Although, it's really awkward that we have nine (wins) in a row here in the Nationwide Series, but JGR has yet to win a Cup race here. That's quite an odd stat."