It took a multiple-lap battle between Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to crown a winner in the TREATMYCLOT.com 300 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Larson fought to keep the top spot as the laps kept ticking down and veteran racers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch didn’t let him breeze to the finish. Larson skillfully focused on his lead and took the checkered flag after 15 hold-your-breath laps.
Larson had been running in the top ten all afternoon and had to fight through traffic through the entire race to get to Kyle Busch and Joey Logano who had fast cars on the day. Both Logano and Busch led the most laps in the race.
Elliott Sadler had the pole on the day but didn’t keep the lead for long. The No. 22 of Joey Logano powered right past Elliott to take the top spot on the first lap. Logano wouldn’t give up the lead until a costly mistake on pit road. Logano slid into his pit stall but the wheels were turned and the tire changers could not get the tires off the car due to that mistake. That allowed Kyle Busch to take the lead after that round of green flag pit stops.
After running a few laps, Busch got looser and Logano was able to close in on Busch and regain the lead.
With 48 to go, Larson crept to the second position and set his sights on clean air. A late-race
caution was called for fluid on the track which set up a restart between Larson and Kevin Harvick after a round of pit stops. Larson took the lead on the restart lap and had to battle Harvick and Busch in each of the last 15 laps of the race but it was Larson who was victorious on the day.
Four caution flags appeared during the afternoon. The first caution came on the first lap after a tire on Jamie Dick’s car went down and he was into the wall. The second caution was for debris and the third caution came after Dylan Kwaniewski got loose and slid up the track into Chase Elliott. Kwasniewski’s car then pushed Elliott’s car into the wall. The fourth caution was for fluid on the track.
Rookie Chase Elliott didn’t back down after his brush with the wall. His crew was able to work on the fenders of the car and keep it in contention. Elliott would remain in the top ten for the remainder of the race. He was the highest finishing rookie.
Kyle Busch’s car had tech issues and he couldn’t qualify but that didn’t stop him from driving the wheels off of his car to get to the front. He started 39th and by lap 10 he was 8th. He was in the second position by lap 22. He took the lead on lap 42. He and Kyle Larson would trade the lead in the closing laps of the race.
It was Kyle Larson’s first victory since entering the higher NASCAR ranks.
The top ten: Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Elliott Sadler, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Ty Dillon, Trevor Bayne, and Regan Smith.
Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne are tied for the lead in the points standings. Ty Dillon is lurking in
third place – six points behind the leaders.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series race will be Saturday, April 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.