In the last race on the two-mile configuration, Kyle Busch wins the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club for the 61st win of his career and his first win with Richard Childress Racing.
With Saturday’s track activities rained out, the starting line-up was set via the NASCAR metric. Christopher Bell in the #20 started on the front row with Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. beside him.
The green flag flew and Bell’s #20 jumped out front and it was three-wide deep in the back of the pack. Bell led at the line but Alex Bowman’s #48 quickly disposed of him and took the top spot.
On lap 12, the defending winner Kyle Larson suffered an electrical issue and was forced to pit from eighth. He would go behind the wall later in the race and then return to the track several laps down.
Lap 15 saw the first caution flag of the day, as the competition caution waved. Bowman led Chastain onto pit road, where Chastain’s pit crew managed to send him out first with Bowman and Logano behind him.
Green flag action resumed on lap 21 with Chastain and Bowman on the front row. The #1 jumped out front until a few laps later when he was caught by the Penske Racing duo of Joey Logano’s #22 and Ryan Blaney’s #12.
The #12 led until lap 42 when the first caution for incident was thrown, when Corey LaJoie’s #7 got loose under Brad Keselowski in the #6 and sent him spinning to the inside.
The field came to pit under the ensuing caution, with Blaney getting out ahead of Chastain and Logano, while Kyle Busch in the #8 was sent to the back for a speeding penalty.
The race restarted on lap 47 with Blaney and Chastain on the front row. Ross Chastain jumped to the point again and held off both Blaney and teammate Suarez in the #99 to earn the win in stage 1.
Stage 1 Results
Under the caution, the #1 exited pit road first, with Hamlin behind him, followed by Byron’s #24 and the #48. Ryan Blaney suffered from a slow pitstop and was sent way back in the pack, and Daniel Suárez was sent to the back for speeding.
The field was sent to green on lap 73 with Chastain and Hamlin sharing the front row. Hamlin took the lead until the #22 took it from him. However, another caution was thrown when a stack up on the backstretch sent AJ Allmendinger into the inside wall and out of the race.
After pitstops, the restart was led by Preece in the #41, Austin Dillon in the #3 and Gragson in the #42 who all stayed out under the previous yellow flag. Gragson took the lead after the restart until Logano snatched it from him the lap afterwards. Another caution was thrown as the #7 was spun after contact with the #45 of Reddick. LaJoie managed to gather it up and continue on his way.
The field lined up on lap 87 for the green flag but a stack up in the back of the pack sent the #77 of Ty Dillon spinning to the inside and the #20 into the outside wall. The wreck collected the #10, #41, #45 as well as the #12. The #10, #20, #41 and #45 were out of the race.
The race was resumed on lap 93 with Logano and Hamlin out in front. The #11 of Hamlin got the top spot, until a few laps later when Chastain came charging with a big head of steam and passed Hamlin going into turn 1.
As Chastain logged laps up front, Busch in the #8 tried to run him down from second place until Busch’s car eventually faded back into the clutches of Logano and Harvick in a battle for second place.
Chastain crossed the line and won stage 2, with Kyle Busch holding on to second place behind him and Corey LaJoie in the #7 finishing in 10th.
Stage 2 Results
Caution flag pit stops put the #4 of Harvick in the top spot with Busch lining up beside him for the restart. Busch got the lead until a caution was thrown due to Ty Dillon’s #77 running on no power on the apron.
Busch and Harvick led the field after pit stops and Ross Chastain in the #1 took the lead from both of them by the end of lap 145. Busch came back to challenge Chastain for the lead with Joey Logano.
Busch and Chastain separated themselves from the field as the race came up to the last cycle of pit stops. With 35 to go, the #1 and #8 came to the pits with Busch out front. They exited how they came in, with the #8 out front of the #1 and McDowell in the #34 staying out in the lead.
With 21 to go, the #34 came into the pits and Busch took the lead and led all the way until the checkered flag, scoring his first win as a Richard Childress Racing driver and earning his 19th consecutive season with a win, breaking the all time record previously held by Richard Petty.
Chase Elliott finished second, Chastain in third, Suárez in fourth and Harvick in fifth.
Featured Image Credits: NASCAR on Twitter
One thought on “Setting Records: Kyle Busch Wins at Auto Club”
This was a great race I am bummed that this track is going away