The only lap that pays is the last one. So KYLE BUSCH/No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Stater Bros. 300 Race Saturday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway after leading the last lap of 152. With a late race caution, the race ran two laps into overtime, with a Green-White Checker finish and Busch out-dragged GREG BIFFLE/No.27 Curb Baker Racing Ford to the finish for the tenth closest finish in the NNS – 0.051 seconds.
It was Busch’s thirty-first win in 175 NNS races, and his third at Auto Club Speedway.
In the restart Pole sitter and race dominator, JOEY LOGANO/No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing got shuffled, with Biffle and Logano giving different versions of the scenario. Logano ended up spinning out in front of the checkered flag, and finished fifth, behind BRAD KESELOWSKI/No. 22 Dodge and CARL EDWARDS/No.60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Busch’s reaction after the race. “That’s crazy, do you believe that. That’s some racing right there. That’s pretty awesome. Whatta race. It was exciting.” Busch admitted he was never going to catch his teammate, Logano, the way the race was going. “I didn’t have a winning car. This race was stole. Joey deserved to win the race. There was no keeping up with the 20 car. We didn’t have the car to win, but we stole it. The guy who races the best wins. I just made that up.”
Edwards leads the points standings by 24 points ahead of Logano.
Pole sitter Logano led five times for a race-high 130 laps, and was none too happy with Biffle after the race.
Logano’s reaction immediately after the race: “Go figure, huh. I don’t know what (Biffle’s) deal is with me but for some reason in California he feels like putting me in the fence or hitting me towards the end. I know we were racing hard there at the end, but I don’t know, I think he could have done it a little cleaner than that. Oh well, it was a good run for the GameStop Toyota. Obviously we had the dominating car. I should have won it. It’s tough after leading that many laps and you don’t get a victory out of it Oh well. I mean if you keep doing that it’s eventually going to come back and bite you. I always remember that stuff.”
Later, Logano was asked what happened on the last restart. “I got hit. I don’t know. We had an awesome race car that should have won the race. I don’t know — the 27 car (Biffle) decided to hit us again.”
Biffle said “It was a rookie mistake. He spun his tires on the restart and couldn’t get going. I was against him down there and moved to the bottom. He tried to come down and block the bottom and I already had a run in there and wasn’t going to give up. I so happy for this Red Man team.
“The 20 made a rookie mistake and he smoked his tires on the restart. I bumped him. I guess he’s not happy about that. It seems like those guys always have a little better steam than us and he just door drafted me off the bottom He had a good run coming. I got the throttle down as soon as I could from the top there and he came off and door drafted me to the stripe. I knew that it was going to happen and I figured he was going to beat me.”
Top Rookie BRIAN SCOTT/No.11 Braun Racing Toyota finished tenth, but ran as high as tenth. The young driver moved up this season from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and is one of the Go or Go Home Drivers. He qualified third.
For those who follow DANICA PATRICK/No.7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, she started thirty-sixth, and finished thirty-first, three laps down. She stayed out of trouble, gave good feedback on her first pit stop which allowed her team to make helpful adjustments to the car, and finished higher than she started. She got shuffled back to forty first and ran a race high twenty-ninth. She ranks thirty-third in the standings, among 60 drivers.
Patrick got a speeding ticket on each of her two pit stop exits, and was not happy. Patrick marched off after the race, giving no interviews. But the TV viewers certainly should know her 2010 NNS schedule by now. ESPN2 ran it frequently on its bottom screen scroll, interspersed among the sports scores. Patrick’s next race is in a week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and then she’s on hiatus while she runs Indy Cars.
Twelve speeding tickets (of 13 total infractions) were issued, all for exiting pit lane. Maybe the drivers didn’t know where the actual go faster line started.
Twenty three cars finished on the lead lap, with twelve lead changes among seven drivers. There were four cautions for 18 laps and the race ran 2 hrs, 06 mins, 46 secs. The average race speed was 143.886 mph. The record is 155.957 mph set by HANK PARKER, Jr. in April 2001.
One of the cautions was for an accident between JOHN WES TOWNLEY/No.21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Rookie RICKY STENHOUSE/No.6 Jr Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Townley continued to finish thirtieth after starting sixth. Stenhouse retired to a thirty-ninth place finish.
KEVIN HARVICK/No.33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, who started eighth, retired with a rare blown engine.
The reported attendance was 36,000. The weather was cloudy, gray and cold with a stiff breeze during the race. After the checkered flag the sun came out, making for a silvery-grey California sunset.