Kyle Busch Capitalizes On Wreck At Cali
Sprint Cup: Fantastic finish worthy of Hollywood
All you naysayers, I have a few questions for you.
Still have doubts about the Gen-6 race car? Still think Fontana is boring racing? Still wondering when NASCAR will return to the good old days of fightin' and wreckin'?
Still looking for some bad-blood rivalries? Still think Dale Earnhardt Jr. can't lead the standings and compete for the title?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you clearly aren't paying attention. Or maybe you just missed the race Sunday, which was one of the most entertaining and drama-filled finishes in years.
That was the late-race fight. The postrace fight came moments later when a furious Tony Stewart went after Logano with intent to harm, using his fists.
All but forgotten was Busch's first Cup victory in almost a year and Earnhardt moving to the top of the point standings. Earnhardt overcame a bad pit stop and raced from midpack to second in the final laps, an impressive drive to the front.
"This is Hollywood, the land of drama," ACS president Gillian Zucker said after the race. "We certainly got that today."
Calling Fontana Hollywood is a bit of a stretch, but we get the point. Zucker was overjoyed after her much-maligned speedway put on a great show in the new car.
"The Gen-6 car was designed for this type of racetrack," she said.
Five races into the season, the Gen-6 is passing the test. So did ACS on Sunday with its biggest crowd in years.
"It was an amazing race," said Kurt Busch, whose fifth-place finish was his second consecutive top-5. "It was great watching everybody race and put on a good show, and I think the cars performed well here."
"Everyone at [Auto Club Speedway] should applaud themselves for the show they had here today," said Steve Letarte, Earnhardt's crew chief.
The ending was unforgettable, but probably wouldn't have been as exciting were it not for two guys who really don't like each other. Hamlin wrecked Logano last week at Bristol, and Logano had words with Hamlin afterward, upping the ante on their Twitter feud.
So having those two drivers fighting for the win at the end meant neither man was going to give an inch on the track.
"We weren't going to win if it wasn't for those two battling," Kyle Busch said. "If they would have been single file and just racing, it would have gone down in order."
It didn't, and the only downer of the day was Hamlin's vicious head-on crash into a concrete wall on the inside part of the track. It sent Hamlin to the hospital, where he stayed overnight to undergo tests on a possible back injury.
Why any track still has concrete walls without the SAFER barrier in front of it is inexplicable.
That's an argument for another day, but two weeks from now in Martinsville, expect more arguments on the track, and maybe off it, between Logano and Stewart.
While everyone thought the only feud was between Logano and Hamlin, Stewart became the latest Logano hater, believing Logano almost blocked him into the grass on the final restart.
Fists and feuds, tradin' paint and last-lap fury, Sunday was old-school NASCAR at its best.
Who would have thought it could happen at Fontana? Maybe Zucker comparing ACS to Hollywood isn't such a stretch after all.
Nationwide Series at California: The Rundown
Nationwide: Kyle's weekend sweep
And now for the other half of Kyle Busch's weekend: He won the Nationwide Series race at Fontana.
In related news, Andrea Bocelli won a singing contest over William Hung, Miguel Cabrera won the Home Run Derby over the Bad News Bears and Bill Gates topped Paris Hilton on an IQ test.
Joe Gibbs Racing now has won nine consecutive Nationwide races at Auto Club Speedway. Had this been done by Nationwide regulars, I'd be impressed. It wasn't.
Busch has won three of the first five Nationwide races. This is not what the series needs to grow, and this could be a special season in Nationwide.
Sam Hornish Jr., a man who never gave up and kept plugging away when it appeared he wasn't going to find success in a stock car, is having his best year in NASCAR. He won at Las Vegas (beating Busch) and finished second Saturday. He leads the season standings.
Kyle Larson, possibly as talented a 20-year-old racer as you will ever see, had another top-10 finish Saturday, one day after winning a World of Outlaws race in Southern California.
But these guys don't get the attention they deserve because a Cup star is stealing the spotlight like a bully taking lollipops from kids in the candy store.
Hornish should have won Saturday. Larson should have one week earlier at Bristol when Busch edged him in a side-by-side finish.
Sure, it was exciting, but the series would be better served if its championship drivers were winning more races. The Cup boys have won four of the first five races. That doesn't help the Nationwide regulars get the name recognition they need.
For years, I've heard the flawed logic that Cup drivers sell tickets to the Nationwide races. It's a theory I've never embraced (look in the stands), and even if it's true, it's still shortsighted gain.
If the Nationwide regulars were winning races, they would become stars. People would know them, follow them and become bigger fans of those drivers. It would help them gain sponsorship and add more cash in the pockets of guys who really need it.
This is the only sport -- heck, it's really the only major racing series -- in which the biggest stars at the top level compete regularly at the lower level, win races and act as if they accomplished some great thing.
And this isn't an indictment of Busch. I'd feel the same way about any Cup title contender who raced most of the Nationwide events and dominated the races with cars better than almost anyone else had on the track.
But Busch is the biggest offender, using his enormous talent to win race after race in far and away the best equipment in the series.
It's taking away from what could be a fun year in Nationwide, with more quality drivers competing for the title than ever before. But few people really see it.
What they see is the Cup star winning over and over, racing too many events in a league in which he doesn't belong.
Camping World: Wait almost over
The Camping World Truck Series drivers will brush the cobwebs off their firesuits and return to racing next week at Martinsville after an odd six-week hiatus between the season opener at Daytona and the next event.One thing could happen this year that never has happened in the 18-year history of the series -- a back-to-back champion.
James Buescher hopes to change that this year, but it won't be easy. First, the Plano, Texas, native has a little ground to make up after a 13th-place finish at Daytona. He was third at Martinsville last year.
The biggest challenge for Buescher is the top three drivers who battled him for the title last season all are back in 2013 -- Timothy Peters, Joey Coulter and Ty Dillon. All three finished within 24 points of Buescher, and Dillon led the series with 17 top-10s in 22 races.
Peters is the only one of that quartet older than 23. Win or lose, Buescher and Dillon likely will move on after this season and probably race in the Nationwide Series in 2014.