Kyle Busch took his 200th NASCAR win by producing a dominant display in the Cup Series race at Fontana.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver won all three stages and led 134 laps out of 200 to claim his 53rd premier series victory.
It wasn’t a completely drama-free race for the 2015 Cup series champion though, as he was handed a pitlane speeding penalty between the second and third stages.
It took him just nine laps to get back into the top 10 following the infraction, and a late race caution brought out by a tyre blowout for Bubba Wallace effectively gave Busch a free pitstop halfway through the final stage as he had stayed out while other frontrunners pitted under green.
That put Busch right in the middle of a lead battle between Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
The Ford pair ran first and second at that final restart with Busch hot on their heels, but five laps after the restart Busch breezed past both and wouldn’t be challenged for the final 26 laps.
Busch maintained a gap of around 2.4 seconds over Logano in the final stages of the race, eventually crossing the line 2.35s ahead of the reigning champion – making it the first time he had come back from a pitlane penalty to win.
The victory was Busch’s 53rd in Cup, but his 200th across the three major NASCAR championships – drawing him level with Richard Petty overall, although all Petty’s wins came in the top tier.
Busch had been on the cusp of the 200 mark since his sweep of all three series at Phoenix a week earlier, and could have claimed it in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Fontana had Cole Custer not held him off in the final battle.
Keselowski, who led 42 laps while Busch was back in the pack, finished third ahead of Kevin Harvick.
Ryan Blaney finished fifth – he was the only leading driver not to put during the final caution period, having made a green flag stop a few laps prior.
That arguably cost him a chance at victory as his tyres were marginally older than the leaders on the final restart.
Kurt Busch continued his run as the strongest Chevrolet driver of 2019 with a sixth place finish for Ganassi, ahead of Denny Hamlin – who led eight laps early on.
Martin Truex Jr rallied back from early race contact with a spinning Ricky Stenhouse Jr to finish eighth, with Aric Almirola and polesitter Austin Dillon completing the top 10.
Dillion nearly didn’t run the race after falling ill overnight. Haas Xfinity driver Custer was on standby to step in, being the only second-tier series driver left in California able to call up.
His services weren’t needed with Dillion completing the race, and running in the top 10 for much of the 400-mile event.
|1||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200|
|2||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||200|
|3||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||200|
|4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||200|
|5||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||200|
|6||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||200|
|7||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200|
|8||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200|
|9||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||200|
|10||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||200|
|11||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||200|
|12||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||200|
|13||Daniel Suarez||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||200|
|14||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||200|
|15||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||200|
|16||Chris Buescher||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||200|
|17||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||200|
|18||Matt DiBenedetto||Leavine Family Racing||Toyota||200|
|19||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||200|
|20||Paul Menard||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||200|
|21||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||200|
|22||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||199|
|23||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||199|
|24||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||198|
|25||David Ragan||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||198|
|26||Matt Tifft||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||197|
|27||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing||Chevrolet||197|
|28||Ross Chastain||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||195|
|29||Landon Cassill||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet||195|
|30||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||194|
|31||Corey LaJoie||Go FAS Racing||Ford||193|
|32||Cody Ware||Petty Ware Racing||Chevrolet||192|
|33||Daniel Hemric||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||192|
|34||Reed Sorenson||Premium Motorsports||Chevrolet||192|
|35||Joey Gase||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||188|
|36||Garrett Smithley||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||188|
|37||B.J. McLeod||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||172|
|38||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||130|
|7||Martin Truex Jr.||169|
|11||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||146|
|30||Darrell Wallace Jr.||49|
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