Joey Logano led the majority of the laps in the Stater Brothers 300 at Auto Club Speedway and appeared to have the dominant car. However, his teammate, Kyle Busch, took the checkered flag on a green-white-checkered finish.
Logano, behind the wheel of the No. 20 Game Stop Toyota, started the race on the pole and led over 130 laps. Busch, on the other hand, led just four laps total, including the last lap that ensured his victory.
“That’s crazy,” Busch said enthusiastically in victory lane. “Can you believe that? That’s some racing right there.”
Busch said that he and his team had fought an ill-handling race car all day. “Jason (Ratcliff) never gave up,” Busch said of his crew chief. “And I never gave up. This Z-Line Camry was awesome.”
Logano, who had been so dominant all race long, was left to finish in the fifth spot after a last lap tussle with Greg Biffle that sent the young driver off the track and careening through the grass.
“I got hit again by Biffle,” Logano said. “I don’t know what his deal is with me but for some reason here at California he feels like putting me in the fence or hitting me at the end.
“I think he could have done it a little cleaner than that.”
Logano was more than disappointed to have led that many laps, had the dominant car, and not come away with the victory. Logano also vowed to remember who it was that cost him the win.
“Oh well, you keep doing that and eventually it’s going to come back and bite you,” Logano said of his incident with Biffle. “I always remember that stuff.”
Biffle, who did finish the race in the runner-up spot, had another perspective on the final restart. “It was a great restart,” Biffle said. “The 20 car made a rookie mistake, spun his tires on the restart and couldn’t get going.”
“I wasn’t going to give up,” Biffle said simply.
Brad Keselowski finished in the third position and expectant father Carl Edwards finished fourth in the race. Edwards had to make a comeback to finish so high in the running order after sustaining two speeding penalties.
Speeding penalties were also one of the stories of the day for several other drivers, including rookie Danica Patrick. The driver of the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevy for JR Motorsports sustained two speeding penalties, herself.
The first penalty put Patrick, who had dropped to the back of the field, a lap down. She could not believe it when she was assessed the second penalty, asking her crew chief Tony Eury, Jr., “How the hell was I speeding? I was even slower that time than the time before.”
Patrick was not alone in sustaining speeding penalties. John Wes Townley was issued one speeding penalty for speeding on the exit of pit road and then suffered another as he was entering pit road to serve his penalty.
Although Patrick finished the race in the 31st position three laps down to the leader, she steadily improved throughout the race, as she got a feel for her car. Her crew chief was pleased with her performance.
“You progressed a lot in this race,” Eury Jr. said over the radio to Patrick. “I'm proud of you in what you've learned today.”
The race was relatively caution-free, as is the tradition of racing at Auto Club Speedway. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and John Wes Townley got into one another, causing one of the major race cautions of the day.
Brendan Gaughan, racing for Rusty Wallace Motorsports, caused one of the other critical cautions when his car let loose with just six laps left to go in the race. His caution set up the green-white-checkered showdown that would pit Busch against Logano, with Biffle, Keselowski, and Edwards all wanting a piece of the action.
Kevin Harvick was also a contender for much of the race, slicing and dicing his way through the field. His day ended too soon, however, as his engine gave up the ghost and Harvick was forced to take the car to the garage.
The top ten finishers in the Stater 300 Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway were:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Greg Biffle
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Carl Edwards
5. Joey Logano
6. Steve Wallace
7. Kelly Bires
8. Brian Vickers
9. Justin Allgaier
10. Brian Scott
The Nationwide Series races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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