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.