Auto Club 400

Kyle Busch wins; Hamlin, Logano involved in last-lap wreck


Kyle Busch came out on top of a frenetic final lap at Auto Club Speedway to bring Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota their first victory ever at the two-mile oval outside Los Angeles.

Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were side-by-side on the white flag lap between Turns 3 and 4, when Logano suddenly slid up into Hamlin. Busch slipped by on the high line while Logano was turned into the Turn 4 wall, and Hamlin spun down the track and went into the inside retaining wall with enough force to send the car briefly airborne.

“They forgot about me,” Busch said to Fox Sports in Victory Lane. “I knew they were gonna, but I figured the spotters would say, ’18 is coming, you better stop messing around.’

“What a great day. This Camry was so fast all day…It’s so fun to come out here and perform like this, but to finally win it — it’s been three years in the making. We finished third a couple years ago, second last year, and first now this year.”

Hamlin’s window net came down after the wreck — usually known as a sign to safety workers that the driver is OK — but while he got out of the car under his own power, the Virginia native was taken to the infield care center in an ambulance. Word later came down from NASCAR that he was awake and alert, but would be transferred to a local hospital for evaluation.

When Logano was asked on the Fox broadcast about the wreck, he replied, “[Hamlin] probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets.” Hamlin spun out Logano last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, igniting a scuffle between the two drivers.

To top it all off, Logano and Tony Stewart —  mad at how Logano blocked him down to the apron on the final restart of the day with 11 laps remaining — had their own physical conflict on pit road before they were separated by their respective crews.

“That little [expletive] runs us clear down to the infield,” a furious Stewart told Fox afterwards. “He wants to [expletive] about everybody else, and he’s the one that drives like a little [expletive]. I’m gonna bust his ass.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle completed the Top 5 finishers.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.