February 22, 2009
Busch Notches Solid Third-Place Finish in Fontana
Date: Feb. 22, 2009
Talented 23-Year Old Follows Up Dual Victory Day with Another Impressive Run
Event: Auto Club 500 (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (2-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 10th/3rd (Running, completed 250 of 250 laps)
Winner: Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing (Ford)
When you run three races in one weekend and the sum total of your finishing positions is five, it means your average finish was 1.6.
That’s a pretty darn good weekend, and that’s exactly what Kyle Busch was able to complete Sunday evening at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished a solid third in Sunday’s Auto Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 2-mile oval, capping off a spectacular weekend that saw him claim dominating victories in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. With the dual-win day, the talented 23-year-old became the first driver in NASCAR history to win two national touring series races in one day.
“It was a great weekend,” said Busch, who now has eight top-10 finishes in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Fontana. “We wish we could’ve won the race and pulled off the triple, but a third-place finish isn’t bad at all. I was awfully proud of the team. The guys worked hard all weekend. Our Camry was decent there in the beginning, then we just kept working on it, making it better, and we got up there. That’s all that matters. A couple of guys made their stuff worse. It was really good to end up that way and end up third. We’ll take that.”
Even though crew chief Steve Addington made adjustments that progressively improved the handling of his No. 18 machine throughout the race, Busch couldn’t get past eventual winner Matt Kenseth and runner-up Jeff Gordon during the final 35-lap green flag run.
“Man, that 17 (Kenseth) and 24 (Gordon) were just so strong,” Busch said. “It looked like the 18 (Busch’s Nationwide Series car) and 51 (Busch’s Camping World Truck) yesterday. As far ahead as they were from us… and we were finishing third. It’s just a tough break. We’ll go to Vegas and hopefully have a strong run there.”
Kenseth, winner of last Sunday’s Daytona 500, beat Gordon by 1.463 seconds to win the Auto Club 500, and in doing so, became the first driver since Gordon in 1997 to win the season’s first two events. It was also Kenseth’s 18th career Sprint Cup victory and his third at Fontana.
Finishing third was Busch, while Greg Biffle and older brother Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Busch’s JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin, finished sixth, while Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers comprised the remainder of the top-10.
Joey Logano, Busch’s other JGR teammate, finished 26th, one lap down.
There were five caution periods for 43 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 500-mile race.
With two of 36 races now complete, Busch sits 18th in the championship standings, 170 points behind series leader Kenseth.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the March 1 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race begins at 4:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 3:30 p.m.