Kyle Busch races to victory Sunday at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway

Kyle Busch (8) crosses the finish line to win Sunday’s NASCAR Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Photo by David Barks

FONTANA – This was one for the record books.

Kyle Busch won Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 in the final NASCAR Cup race over the historic two-mile oval at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway as NASCAR continues to celebrate its 75th Anniversary season,

“It’s just phenomenal. What a great race car. This Lucas Oil Camaro was just super fast. It was a great day for us. Everybody on the team was phenomenal all day.” said Busch, driving in only his third race in a Richard Childress Chevrolet Camaro. “There’s nothing more rewarding than a trip to Victory Lane.”

“His team today did such a great job on pit road,” said Childress. “I’m just so happy for Kyle and the whole team.”

Chevy drivers took the top four sports with Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott second, and Trackhouse Racing teammates Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez finishing third and fourth, respectively.

They were followed by Bakersfield’s Kevin Harvick, in his final race at the Fontana track, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, and Joey Logano.

Christopher Bell, left, front, leads the field at the start of Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Photo by David Barks

For Harvick, it was the 750th consecutive Cup start, making him just the third Cup racer to ever start that many in a row.

“I feel like our car was really good,” said Elliott. “We just needed a little bit, little bit, little bit but we just didn’t have enough at the end.”

“I feel like Kyle and I were pretty similar most of the day,” said Chastain, who led the most laps. “I feel like they just got better as the race went along and we just didn’t have enough to win at the end.”

It was Busch’s 61st career Cup Series victory, on the same track where he grabbed his first Cup win.

It also marks the 19th straight season he’s driven off with a Cup victory, breaking a tie he had with the legendary Richard Petty.

“There’s not many things you can do to beat Richard Petty. With as many records as Richard has, I’m thankful for getting the opportunity to break one of them,” said Busch. “And (older brother) Kurt and myself now have the most wins of any racing brothers, breaking a tie we had with the Allisons (Bobby and Davey).

“It certainly meant a lot having Kurt here today,” said Busch. Kurt Busch, while not entering many races this year is still an integral part of the 23XI team. “It would be better having him in the field but it was cool that he came up and gave me a hug after the race.

“It’s fun to set records. It’s better to set them with your brother.”

The recent rains broke in time to get the race in as planned.

NASCAR crews were out at 5:30 a.m. drying the track, getting it ready for the scheduled 12:30 p.m. start.

And despite the day being cold and overcast, a sellout crowd was on hand – NASCAR’s second straight sold-out crowd.

“This is proof positive that support for NASCAR racing in Southern California is alive and well,” said Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen. “From our campers who lined up to park on Thursday to the fans who visited us at the box office this morning, we’ve seen nothing but an amazing show of support. We’re grateful for the opportunity to provide them a day to remember at this 2-mile oval.”

Christopher Bell was on the pole but his lead evaporated coming out of Turn 1 on the first lap.

Alex Bowman, moving up from fourth, took the lead and held it through the competition caution on Lap 15.

Chastain took the lead on the restart, then Joey Logano took it away before Ryan Blaney passed both of them.

Chastain worked his way out front on Lap 46 and held on through Lap 65 and the end of Stage 1.

Later, there was a 10-car pileup that happened on a restart after the race’s fifth caution, knocking five of those cars out of the race.

Chastain established himself as the class of the field as the race wore on, winning both Stages 1 and 2, but you can never forget about Busch.

Because of a pit road speeding penalty after a caution came out on Lap 42, Busch was sent from fifth place to the back of the field.

He was back up to fifth place on Lap 94 of the 200-lap race and kept closing in on first.

By Lap 104, it was a two-man race and on Lap 180, Busch took the lead for good.

This was the 33rd Cup race at the Speedway, which hosted its first one in 1997.

The track will now be demolished with plans for a short track to be built as its replacement.

“It was definitely special to win the last race before the reconfiguration,” said Busch’s crew chief Randall Burnett. “It’s special for Kyle. He got his first Cup win here and now he gets the last one under this setup. We’ll all definitely miss this place.”

The NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Las Vegas next week for the Pennzoil 400 weekend, then heads to Phoenix Raceway the following week for the United Rentals Work United 500 weekend. Tickets are available at

John Hunter Nemechek (20) passes Austin Hill to grab the lead after the start of Sunday’s Production Alliance Group 300 Xfinity race. Nemechek won the race, the final race at Auto Club Speedway until after a planned track reconfiguration. Photo by David Barks

Nemechek wins Xfinity finale in Fontana

FONTANA, CA – John Hunter Nemechek closed out this iteration of Auto Club Speedway Sunday night with a win in the Production Alliance Group 300 Xfinity race.

Postponed from its scheduled Saturday start by a combination of rain and snow, the race went off without a hitch about 45 minutes after the conclusion of the NASCAR Cup race.

It puts a Nemechek bookend to the track’s history. Nemechek’s father Joe won the very first pole at Auto Club Speedway.

“That is really cool. He won the first pole and I won the last race,” said Nemechek. “My dad has been such a help to my career. I just can’t thank him enough.”

Austin Hill had the pole at the start of the race with Nemechek by his side but Nemechek passed Hill just fter the start and kept the lead until a restart after an accident midway through Stage 1.

Nemechek was in the mix all night, staying mostly in one of the top four positions.

His Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota really came to life in the second half of the 150-lap race over the Speedway’s two-mile oval, taking the lead for good with 11 laps to go to post the third win of his Xfinity racing career.

“This whole team gave me one fast race car,” said Nemechek. “The pit crew got it done when it counted tonight. Overall this is an amazing Joe Gibbs race car.”

The win continues Nemechek’s hot start to the season. He finished second last week in Daytona.

It was the Gibbs team’s 11th Xfinity win in Fontana.

John Hunter Nemechek crosses the finish line to win Sunday’s Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Photo by David Barks

Sam Mayer, driving a JR Motorsports Chevrolet, finished second.

“All things considered, I’m really happy with tonight’s result.,” said Mayer. “We threw everything we had at them except the kitchen sink.”

Justin Allgaier finished third, followed by Chandler Smith, Josh Berry, Austin Hill, Riley Herbst, Austin Dillon, Brett Moffitt, and Parker Kligerman.

To be the final winner is really cool,” said Nemechek. “It’s great to be a part of the history of Auto Club Speedway. This is just an amazing race track. I’m sorry to see it go, Maybe when they tear it up they’ll send me a piece of asphalt.”

The Xfinity Series joins the Cup Series next week in Las Vegas.

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