FONTANA, Calif. – Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin crashed on the final lap of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway while battling for the lead, allowing third-place Kyle Busch to score his first victory of the year.
“They forgot about me,” Busch said of Logano and Hamlin. “I knew they were gonna.”
Logano and Hamlin, who just last week were involved in a brief altercation following the race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, found themselves battling for the lead in the final laps of Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Busch, who dominated the race Sunday, was the leader during a restart on lap 189 with Logano in hot pursuit. Hamlin, who had fresh tires, quickly began slicing his way through the pack as Logano targeted Busch.
With seven to go Logano got alongside Busch, but didn’t have enough momentum to make the pass down the backstretch. That allowed Hamlin to get a run on both Logano and Busch, but Hamlin lost momentum under Busch and Logano was able to take the lead.
Logano slowly inched away from Hamlin as Busch fell in line in third. But within a matter of laps Hamlin had caught Logano and began to challenge for the lead. With two laps to go Hamlin was able to get alongside Logano coming out of turn four and they were side-by-side as they took the white flag.
Hamlin and Logano traded paint down the backstretch and again as they entered turn three, allowing Busch to get a huge run on the outside to retake the lead in turn four. Just as Busch got the lead Hamlin and Logano made contact again. Logano ended up hitting the outside wall while Hamlin slammed into the inside wall.
All of that happened behind Busch, who beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line by 1.261 seconds. The victory completed a weekend sweep for Busch in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide divisions at the two-mile oval.
“What a great day. This Interstate Batteries Camry was fast all day,” Busch said from victory lane. “When they both went to the bottom side of three and four I’m like, ‘This is golden. I’ve got enough up here to make this happen.’ Low and behold I put my foot too it and drove around the outside of them before they started crashing or as they started crashing, I’m not sure.
“Man, it just feels so good to finally win. We weren’t going to win if it weren’t for those two battling.”