Kyle Busch was a blown tire, an empty tank of fuel and a lap away from history in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Busch was en route to his fourth consecutive win—a feat never accomplished in the Xfinity Series—before a cataclysmic final lap that ended with Austin Dillon taking the checkered flag.
Dillon and Busch were among three drivers to have the lead after the white flag waved, as Daniel Suarez also looked to be in prime position for the win just after Busch blew his right-front tire.
But Suarez ran out of fuel on the backstretch, allowing Busch to reclaim the lead while limping into Turn 3, with Dillon surging from behind. The two bounced off each other coming out of the final turn, and Dillon nicked the wall while taking his first lead of the day over the final half-mile.
Here is a replay of the wild series of events that made up for an otherwise uneventful Saturday afternoon, courtesy of Fox Sports NASCAR:
And here is a look at the final results:
|3||Darrell Wallace Jr.|
|37||Ray Black Jr.|
Busch last pitted under caution with 49 laps to go, creating a tight window to reach the finish, and his No. 18 machine started falling off the pace with three to go.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was desperately trying to save fuel but had a four-second cushion over second-place Suarez. He appeared to be on the verge of miraculously hanging on when taking the white flag.
Three-time Sprint Cup champion Darrell Waltrip thought as much:
Then came the tire explosion that led to the wild finish over the final lap on the two-mile oval, which had produced clean and mostly uneventful racing for most of the 300-mile affair.
Here is a look at the damage to Busch’s car, courtesy of the Motor Racing Network:
Former NASCAR driver and current Fox Sports telecaster Michael Waltrip noted how fitting the finish was, given the venue sits just 50 miles east of Los Angeles:
Dillon, the 2013 Xfinity Series champion, picked up his seventh career win in the second-tier series and looked as happy as he ever has while celebrating, per Fox Sports:
Dillon joined Busch and Chase Elliott as the only winners in the Xfinity Series this season. All three are Sprint Cup full-timers, meaning their points will not count toward the championship.
Here is a look at the updated Xfinity Series standings for those eligible for the title:
|1||Daniel Suarez||182 (Leader)|
|2||Elliott Sadler||172 (-10)|
|3||Justin Allgaier||163 (-19)|
|4||Brandon Jones||161 (-21)|
|5||Ty Dillon||159 (-23)|
|6||Brendan Gaughan||154 (-28)|
|7||Erik Jones||152 (-30)|
|8||Darrell Wallace Jr.||134 (-48)|
|9||Ryan Reed||133 (-49)|
|10||Brennan Poole||130 (-52)|
Dillon will now look to go for the weekend sweep at Fontana from the pole in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
The Richard Childress Racing driver has never won a Sprint Cup Series event in 89 attempts, but things have been steering his way during an exciting weekend in California.
Busch, who didn’t meet with Fox Sports 1 for a post-race TV interview, was livid over his radio in frustration that NASCAR didn’t throw a caution flag after his tire blew, per FS1.
"Debris all over the racetrack and they don’t throw a yellow. I am just so pleased with you, NASCAR. Thanks. Y’all are awesome at fixing races,” Busch said over his radio.
Dillon wasn’t pleased with how Busch attempted to slide up the track and block him at a substantially lower speed.
"He tried to screw me right there at the end, but it didn't work out for him, did it?" Dillon said in his Victory Lane interview with FS1.