Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were racing for the lead as they took the white flag in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday, but after the two drivers made significant contact that sent Logano into the outside wall and Hamlin head on into the inside wall, Kyle Busch passed them both to drive on to the checkered flag and the win.
“They forgot about me, though,” Busch said in victory lane.”I knew they would’ve.”
The win was the first for Toyota at Auto Club Speedway, which makes its North American headquarters in Southern California.
“Finally, we get the home win for Toyota,” Busch said.
Logano was able to continue after scraping the wall to finish sixth after leading 41. Hamlin, though, wasn’t as fortunate. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. He was awake and alert at the track’s infield care center before transportation to the hospital.
“We worked it last week,” Logano said. “He probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets. And besides that, I think our Auto Club Ford was very strong all day. I was very happy with the car we had. We were super fast, led a lot of laps. Nothing to hang our head down about, that’s for sure. We were very proud of that.”
Logano and Hamlin feuded last weekend at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. On Sunday, Logano caught the ire of Tony Stewart after he blocked Stewart on the final restart of the race with fewer than 15 laps to go.
“I had to throw a block there,” Logano said. “That was a race for the lead.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and took the championship points lead by 12 points over Brad Keselowski.
Hamlin started on the pole, but lost the lead on the first lap to Matt Kenseth. Busch then moved into the lead on lap 11 and went on to lead over half of the race.
Busch dominated the event, but got shuffled back several positions when drivers including Stewart, Cling Bowyer, Keselowski and Kenseth got off pit road ahead of him by taking only two tires during a caution with 70 laps to go.
Busch quickly made his way back to the front, though, reclaiming the lead with 53 laps to go. Kevin Harvick ran second to Busch for several laps, until Logano rejoined Busch up front on a restart following a caution that came out with about 30 laps to go.
Busch and Logano swapped the lead several times near the end of the race until both Logano and Hamlin got by Busch with six laps to go. Logano and Hamlin then raced side-by-side in the closing laps before Logano’s car slid up the race track on the final lap, making contact with Hamlin. Busch then took advantage and passed them both for the win.
“Low and behold, I put my foot to it and drove away,” Busch said.
Kurt Busch finished third after overcoming an early race pit road speeding penalty. Carl Edwards finished fourth, and Greg Biffle was fifth after starting the race in the back because of an engine change.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR