Well, Saturday can officially be claimed at Kyle Busch’s day to shine. The Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway was not quite as exciting as Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race but it definitely was worth watching.
The story of the day was actually a question. Could Joe Gibbs Racing win its ninth straight race at Auto Club in the Nationwide Series? With Kyle Busch starting on the pole, coming off of a win at Bristol and at Phoenix, the chances were looking pretty good.
Busch was sitting third on the final restart behind fellow Cup driver Brad Keselowski and Nationwide Championship contender Sam Hornish Jr with 35 laps to go and all three drivers had really strong cars. With just a few laps to go, Keselowski began to fall back, running out of fuel. Busch took the lead back with 25 laps to go with only Hornish in his rearview mirror. Hornish put up a good battle with Busch for the win and ended up slapping the wall with 2 to go, but stayed in contention and finished second.
Hornish, with a win in Las Vegas already this season, is currently leading the Nationwide Series Points Standings. In five races this season, Hornish is the only full time Nationwide driver to visit Victory Lane. Busch has three victories and Tony Stewart won at Daytona.
There were quite a few other notable drivers from Saturday’s Royal Purple 300. JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith is sitting second in points after finishing third on Saturday, trailing Hornish by just 28 points. Smith was a lap down early in the race thanks to a flat tire but pit strategy and hard racing got him back up front.
Parker Kligerman and Austin Dillon round out the top 5 from Saturday and Rookie Kyle Larson, who finished second last weekend can add a sixth place finish at Fontana to his resume. Elliott Sadler finished seventh despite having some ignition problems early in the race. Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne and Kevin Swindell finish out the top 10.
Brad Keselowski, who was running up front most of the day finished 19th after skipping the last pit stop then running out of fuel on the closing laps.
Needless to say, Kyle Busch went on to win the Auto Club 400 on Sunday and ended up sweeping the weekend. The question is, how many more races will Busch win this season in the Nationwide Series? I guess we will have to see.
The Nationwide Series won’t be back on track until April 12th when the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.