Kyle Busch beat the field at the 17th annual Auto Club 400, winning his second race in as many days.
A struggle the entire way, the Auto Club Speedway gave drivers fits throughout the race, and as NASCAR on SPEED shared on Twitter, there was oil on the track on Turn 2, making the conditions even more challenging.
There were multiple cautions throughout the race, and a wreck had everything to do with the finish.
David Stremme spun out on Lap 29, forcing the first caution. Then, on the restart, there was almost a huge crash as drivers jockeyed for position. Thankfully, all cars involved came away from the encounter unscathed.
Mannnnnn crazy restart! Whole press box said "WHOAAAA!"— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 24, 2013
A bit later, five cars took damage to the right side in a huge dust up, forcing yet another caution.
At one point, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman incurred penalties after they were caught speeding through pit row.
The race ended in a flurry, as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wrecked with half a lap remaining. Hamilin was taken off the track in an ambulance, as NASCAR on ESPN reported. Fortunately, he was able to exit his car on his own.
With all the cautions, this race didn't really shape up until there were about 60 laps left.
Tony Stewart, last year's winner, took the lead into the final third of the race, with Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Busch trailing him by a slim margin.
Busch overtook Stewart on Lap 147, and Harvick was pushing him hard from behind in second place.
According to FoxSports.com's coverage of the event, radio chatter indicated that Stewart's water temperature was a problem with about 50 laps to go.
With 31 laps left, Busch had a big, five-second lead after he and many of the other leaders took a pit stop. Then the race had its sixth caution when Marcus Ambrose's left rear tire exploded and sent debris on to the track.
At the restart, with 26 laps left in the race, Busch managed to keep the lead and was running well. The caution allowed Harvick, Stewart, Logano and Kasey Kahne to pull to within striking distance, and then there was yet another caution when Mark Martin wrecked.
During the caution, Denny Hamlin, the polesitter at the start of the race, took a pit stop to replace his tires. He had to go back into the pit for a second time on the same caution, as he was missing a lug nut.
With 20 laps to go after the restart, the race was on...or so we thought.
Clint Bowyer's engine blew up, filling his entire cab with smoke and causing the race's eighth caution.
Busch was holding on to the lead at this point, with Logano, Stewart and Kurt Busch, who made a huge push at the end of the race, on his tail.
At the restart, Logano made a nice push for the lead, but Kyle Busch overtook him on the outside before he could establish the lead.
With seven laps to go, Logano took the lead, going underneath Busch and Hamlin in a crazy move that could have just as easily resulted in a wreck.
Logano's car was running hot and he had steam pouring out of his hood, but with two laps to go, he hung on to the lead.
With one lap to go, Hamlin and Logano were neck and neck, and they battled it out the entire way, but in a crazy finish, Busch went outside and won the race.
Here are the top finishers, per NASCAR.com.
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet|
As the race restarted for the seventh time, USA Today's Jeff Gluck made a salient observation about strategy:
It's wild how much these guys step it up when they know it's likely the final restart. Give-and-take is gone...everyone balls out.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 24, 2013
Immediately following Gluck's observation, Bowyer's engine blew up, prompting NASCAR on ESPN to pose this question:
Clint's engine failure may give Kyle cause for concern. It also gives drivers another shot at the King of Restarts. Can anyone capitalize?— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) March 24, 2013
In the end, nobody could take advantage, and NASCAR meteorologist Brian Neudorff said it best:
Holy Cow... WOW #NASCAR— Brian Neudorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN) March 24, 2013
At the end of the race, while Logano's crew was still getting things sorted with his still-smoking car, Stewart went after him, prompting Richard Allen to say:
WTH does Tony Stewart have to do with anything? #NASCAR— Richard Allen (@RacingWithRich) March 24, 2013
To cap it all off, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Pete Pistone tweeted:
I've seen every Fontana Cup race either in person or from afar and that was by far the best one ever #nascar— Pete Pistone (@PPistone) March 24, 2013
If not for the seemingly endless supply of cautions, Busch would have likely run away with this race. He had the race well in hand before the sixth caution, and the final two cautions gave the rest of the field a chance to catch up.
The race was a frantic chase from start to finish, and nobody but the men who lost the race came away disappointed at the way it went down.
Busch proved to be the best racer with the top car in the field, and his second victory at the Auto Club Speedway in the past two days was as thrilling as they come.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78