Busch Finishes Third at Fontana
Haas Automation Driver Records First Top-Five Since Joining SHR
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished third in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. It is his first top-five since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Busch started 17th and led once for two laps en route to scoring his sixth top-five and 11th top-10 in 21 career Sprint Cup starts at Fontana. It was also his 101st top-five and 191st top-10 in 476 career Sprint Cup starts.
Busch, who previously won a Sprint Cup race at Fontana in 2003, was in position to win for a second time at the 2-mile oval when he restarted on the front row for green-white-checkered finish on lap 204. The No. 41Haas Automation team employed a two-tire strategy on their final pit stop before the final restart, while several others – including eventual race winner Kyle Busch – took four tires.
As the field came to green for the final restart, Busch raced door-to-door with teammate Tony Stewart for the lead. The teammates raced hard and clean for two laps, but neither could hold off the four-tire charge of Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, who finished first and second.
“Unreal the amount of emotions of running well today, executing on pit road,” Busch said. “Daniel Knost (crew chief) did a great job and this Haas Automation Chevy was fast and then to race your boss for a win. Neither one of us came home with the ‘W’ so we are both upset about that, but at the same time it was a genuine moment for Tony (Stewart) and I to race and to put it all out on the line for Stewart-Haas. I came home third, he came home fifth.”
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 10th and finished fifth to give the three-time Sprint Cup champion back-to-back top-five results, as Stewart finished fourth last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The top-five run at Fontana was Stewart’s seventh in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at the Southern California racetrack. It was also his 181st top-five in 526 career Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 27th and finished 14th. It was Patrick’s 51st career Sprint Cup start and her second at Fontana.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, started fourth and finished two laps down in 36th after two flat tires forced him to make unscheduled pit stops.
Kyle Busch won the Auto Club 400 for the second straight time to score his 29th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Fontana.
Larson finished .214 of a second behind in the runner-up spot, while Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Carl Edwards comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 42 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 206-lap race, which was extended six laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
With round five of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 17th with 127 points, 59 behind new series leader Carl Edwards. Kurt Busch is 24th with 99 points, 87 out of first. Harvick is 25th with 97 points, 89 out of first. Patrick is 27thwith 92 points, 94 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the STP 500 on Sunday, March 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its preraceshow at 12:30 p.m.