Kyle Busch stormed up from the back after an early speeding penalty to earn his first victory for Richard Childress Racing, winning on this two-mile Southern California track for the fifth and final time.
Busch held off Chase Elliott and Ross Chastain in the NASCAR Cup Series’ final race on the gloriously weathered asphalt at Auto Club Speedway, which will soon be demolished to make room for a proposed half-mile track. Busch asked Fontana officials for a chunk of that asphalt as a souvenir after he burned it up one last time on his way to Victory Lane.
Busch drove his Chevrolet to victory in only his second race with RCR, which scooped him up in December after his 15-year tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing ended. This win was Busch’s first since Bristol last season on a dirt track, and his first on pavement since Pocono in 2021.
With his 61st career victory, Busch earned a win in his record 19th consecutive Cup season, breaking a tie with Richard Petty.
The victory also was the combined 95th win by Kyle and Kurt Busch, breaking the NASCAR record for brothers previously held by Bobby and Donnie Allison.
Elliott finished 2.998 seconds behind Busch in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Daniel Suárez finished fourth, and Kevin Harvick was fifth in the Bakersfield native’s 750th Cup start.
After that teenage trouble, the Las Vegas native has enjoyed plenty of highlights down the I-15 at Fontana. Busch got his first Cup victory at this speedway back in 2005 in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and only Jimmie Johnson (6) earned more Cup victories here.
Even the California fans appreciate a driver who typically gets boos after his triumphs: Fontana serenaded him with cheers as he claimed another surfboard trophy.
Busch was sent to the back early in the race for speeding on pit road, and the penalty infuriated him. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, he roared through the field in response, passing Michael McDowell for the lead with 20 laps to go.
A week of unusual rainstorms and occasional snow finally abated Saturday night, and NASCAR dried the asphalt impressively before the race. Although sand and debris bothered some drivers, the track even managed to avoid any major problems from collected rainwater weeping out of cracks in the track.
Defending champion Kyle Larson was out of contention after developing engine trouble on the opening laps. Shortly after Brad Keselowski spun from contact with Corey LaJoie, Busch was sent to the back.
The series shifts to Las Vegas this weekend.