FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Busch won at Fontana for the second straight year Sunday, holding off Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and his older brother Kurt on a frantic two-lap sprint to the finish.
Kyle Busch capably blocked Larson and outlasted Stewart and Kurt Busch to win a wacky race featuring a track-record 35 lead changes and numerous tire problems. With his 29th career Sprint Cup victory in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch is NASCAR’s fifth winner in five races already this season.
“Holy cow, what do you expect when you’ve got a green-white-checkered finish and everybody has to come down pit road and put four tires on?” Busch asked after his third career win at Fontana. “That was ‘Days of Thunder’ right there. Unbelievable day.”
Jimmie Johnson was comfortably in front when he blew a tire with seven laps left, precipitating the wild finish. Jeff Gordon moved in front until Clint Bowyer spun with two laps to go, setting up an overtime finish.
Gordon was hoping to finish on old tires when Bowyer spun, but then elected to pit along with most of the leaders. Kurt Busch gambled with just two tires, allowing him to restart in second, but his younger brother came up from fifth in the final two laps to win.
Kyle Busch barely held off Larson, the 21-year-old rookie who held off him on Saturday to win the Nationwide race.
Carl Edwards finished 10th at Fontana and stayed one point ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 12th, for the overall points lead.
Fontana didn’t get a repeat of last year’s exciting duel between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, the unfriendly rivals who crashed into each other on the final lap while racing for the win.
Hamlin was a last-minute scratch with a sinus infection. Sam Hornish Jr. took his place in the No. 11 JGR Toyota and finished 17th.
Logano had to go to the garage after 114 laps, knocking him out of contention. He finished 39th.