Kyle Busch earns milestone 200th NASCAR win in dominating fashion

7 Comments

Kyle Busch made NASCAR history Sunday with his 200th career victory in one of NASCAR’s top three national series, capturing the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Busch earned his 53rd career Cup victory (and fourth at Fontana), adding to his 94 wins in the Xfinity Series and 53 wins in the Truck Series. He becomes only the second driver in NASCAR history to reach the 200-win mark, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty (who earned 200 wins in NASCAR’s premier series).

Busch led 134 of 200 laps and won by 2.354 seconds. It was his second conseuctive Cup victory after his win last Sunday at ISM Raceway. He also is the first driver with multiple victories this season.

Busch’s 200th win came at the same 2-mile track where he earned his first career Cup win on Sept. 4, 2005.

MORE: Auto Club 400 results and updated points standings

“It feels just like No. 1, just like yesterday,” Busch told Fox Sports after climbing out of his No. 18 Toyota on the frontstretch. “It was such an awesome race car. I mean, dang. I’m glad we put on a heck of a show for all these fans here at Auto Club Speedway.

“To win 200, whatever it means, it means a lot to me and all my guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. You’re the best. I just wish we could keep it going, keep it going like this, running strong, running well and winning these races.”

Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski finished second and third, respectively, in the third and final race of the annual West Coast swing. Kevin Harvick rallied in the closing laps to finish fourth, followed by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney.

“We came so close, but I’m proud of the effort,” Logano said of his fourth consecutive top-5 finish at Fontana. “We hung in there all day, hung strong, just didn’t have enough to beat that green car (Busch’s car).”

Said Keselowski, who led 42 laps: “We got a lot better from the first run to the end. … I couldn’t stay up front. I brushed the wall a bit earlier. They fixed it; we kept working on it, and we got a solid day.”

Sixth through 10th were Kurt Busch — the highest-finishing Chevrolet driver with his fourth consecutive top 10 — followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon.

Kyle Busch won both stages for the third time in his career (also in the 2018 Coca-Cola 600 and the 2017 Brickyard 400). Because of pit stops and a speeding penalty on pit road, he restarted 18th after the second stage. He roared back to the lead with 26 laps remaining and pulled away for his milestone victory.

“Sometimes, you have to have a little bit of luck on your side,” Busch said. “It certainly is a monumental moment for all of us. Maybe the stars aligned a little bit for us today.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Team Penske was the most dominating team with three drivers in the top-5 (Logano second, Keselowski third and Blaney fifth). … Harvick struggled with his car throughout the race but was able to bounce back late to earn his third fourth-place finish of the season and fourth consecutive top-10.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Clint Bowyer suffered mechanical problems with 70 laps to go and finished last in the 38-car field. … Rookie Daniel Hemric finished eight laps down in 33rd.

NOTABLE: Austin Dillon had to take two bags of IV fluids before the race to help him battle flu. With Saturday’s Xfinity winner Cole Custer on standby, Dillon was able to run the entire race and wound up with a respectable 10th-place finish.

WHAT’S NEXT: STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 24 (FS1); green flag at 2 p.m. ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski