Kyle Busch used pit strategy to take a late lead and held off Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick to win his third straight Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday.
Edwards and Harvick traded leads for most of the 150-lap race around the wide 2-mile oval before deciding to get four tires on their final stop with less than 20 laps left.
Busch came in after and opted for two tires, putting him nearly a straightaway ahead after leaving pit road. He had just enough speed to survive a final-lap bump into wall, winning for the fifth time in his past six races at Fontana.
Busch, who also won at Bristol last week, has won three of five Nationwide races this season and has 46 for his career, two behind Mark Martin’s all-time Nationwide mark. Busch’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, has won seven straight races at Auto Club Speedway – five by Busch and one each by Tony Stewart and Joey Logano.
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It came down to the final pit stop on a green flag, and Busch stayed out when Edwards then Harvick came into the pits, finally coming in with 13 laps left.
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff initially called for four tires, then changed his mind, setting up the will-he-make-it finish. Busch clipped the wall coming out of Turn 2, killing some of his momentum, but he had just enough left to nip Edwards.
Will Power claimed his second consecutive IndyCar pole at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., edging two-time reigning series champion Dario Franchitti with a quick lap of 1 minute, 1.96 seconds. World champion Sebastian Vettel will start from pole today in Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne after a qualifying time of 1 minute, 23.529 seconds.
NASCAR Sprint Cup: Auto Club 400, Fontana, Calif., noon, Ch. 13, 1380-AM
IndyCar: Grand Prix at St. Petersburg, Fla., 9:30 a.m., Ch. 4, 1380-AM