NASCAR: Kyle Busch holds off Larson for Fontana win

NASCAR: Kyle Busch holds off Larson for Fontana win

Cup Series

NASCAR: Kyle Busch holds off Larson for Fontana win


Kyle Busch held off a determined Kyle Larson to claim his first victory of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who also won last year’s event, ran in the top five for the majority of the race but never looked like a victory candidate as those ahead of him had greater pace. Everything changed, however, when the ninth caution of the race came on lap 199 of 200 as Clint Bowyer spun out as a result of a blown tire.

A quick four-tire change helped propel Busch to the front of the field and he soon deposed brother Kurt and rookie Larson to claim the win.

Larson missed out on what would have been a first Sprint Cup victory by just 0.214sec, a day after winning the Nationwide round at Fontana. Kurt Busch beat polesitter Matt Kenseth to third.

The latter ran at the sharp end of the field throughout the race, fighting with the likes of Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. Keselowski led the opening phase of the race, but a gamble to stay out in the lead on lap 57 – on 14-lap old tires – when Tony Stewart spun out down the backstretch failed miserably, and he soon dropped down the order. The 2012 champion briefly returned to the front with 30 laps to go before suffering a blow out in the closingmoments of the race. He eventually finished 26th and a lap down.

Johnson, meanwhile, led the most laps – a total of 104 – and looked set to claim his sixth Fontana win, but he too experienced a tire deflation five laps from the end while leading.

Jeff Gordon produced a great recovery drive from the back of the field and was a thorn in his Hendrick teammate’s side all day. The 42-year-old suffered an early penalty for being too fast on pit road when he stopped on lap 19, dropping him from third to the rear of the field. He fought back and soon filtered his way to the front again, where he and Johnson traded places on numerous occasions, resulting in a record 35 lead changes at Fontana.

Gordon’s charge fell apart though during the green-white-checker as he dropped down the order to finish 13th.

Denny Hamlin failed to start after suffering from a severe sinus infection. His replacement Sam Hornish Jr. came home in 17th place.

Results - 206 laps:                                                      
Pos  Driver              Team/Car                    
 1.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                
 2.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet               
 3.  Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          
 4.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota                
 5.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          
 6.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet               
 7.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota                  
 8.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Chevrolet         
 9.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet             
10.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford               
11.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet             
12.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet              
13.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet              
14.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          
15.  Casey Mears         German Chevrolet                
16.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                  
17.  Sam Hornish Jr      Joe Gibbs Toyota                
18.  Cole Whitt          Swan Toyota                     
19.  Michael Annett      Baldwin Chevrolet               
20.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet             
21.  Reed Sorenson       Baldwin Chevrolet               
22.  Alex Bowman         BK Toyota                       
23.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Ford              
24.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet              
25.  Landon Cassill      Hillman Chevrolet               
26.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                     
27.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                  
28.  Justin Allgaier     Hscott Chevrolet                
29.  David Reutimann     Front Row Ford                              
30.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                      
31.  Ryan Truex          BK Toyota                       
32.  Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                    
33.  Travis Kvapil       Go FAS Ford                     
34.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford               
35.  Brian Scott         Childress Chevrolet             
36.  Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          
37.  Josh Wise           Parsons Chevrolet               
38.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                  
39.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                     
40.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford               
41.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet              
42.  Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota                     
43.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                      
     Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota                     
     Aric Almirola       Petty Ford

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