Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Bowyer started ninth and finished 14th.
● Initially reported a loose car, but handling improved as the race progressed.
● Climbed to eighth by lap 25, then reported the engine had possibly lost a cylinder and had a vibration.
● Crew kept him out on the track when the first caution flew on lap 56 with just one green-flag lap left in the stage.
● Bowyer restarted second but couldn’t keep pace and dropped to 14th.
● Crew replaced spark plug and wire during the stage break but determined the issue was within the engine.
● Bowyer returned to the track in 30th and a lap behind the leaders, hoping to nurse his car to the end.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Bowyer started 30th and finished 25th.
● Crew kept Bowyer on the track during a long green-flag run, gambling he could stay in the free-pass position to regain the lost lap in the event of a caution. However, heavy contact from Corey Lajoie’s car caused tire damage that forced Bowyer to the pits and took him down a second lap.
● Bowyer pitted during the stage break to repair the damage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 121 -200):
● Bowyer started 25th and finished 38th.
● Bowyer’s day ended after 130 laps when smoke began pouring from the No. 14 and he drove it to the garage.
● Kyle Busch won the Auto Club 400 to score his 53rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his fourth at Auto Club Speedway. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was 2.354 seconds.
● This was Busch’s milestone 200th victory across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (53 wins), Xfinity Series (94 wins) and Gander Outdoors Truck Series (53 wins).
● There were four caution periods for a total of 22 laps.
● Twenty-one of the 38 drivers in the Auto Club 400 finished on the lead lap.
● Busch leaves Auto Club Speedway as the championship leader with a 15-point advantage over second-place Logano.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Haas Automation Ford Mustang:
“I felt like we had the car dialed in today better than we had all weekend, and we were looking pretty good early. But she started vibrating and you could smell something, so we were probably on borrowed time. I’m disappointed for the Rush and Haas folks who came out today hoping to see us run up front.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, March 24 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.