Kyle Busch Delivers a Fitting Farewell to Fontana Race Track
Passes King Richard by Extending Consecutive Season Win Streak to 19
February 23, 2023
The Auto Club Speedway in Fontana received a well-deserved farewell against the backdrop of snow-covered San Gabriel Mountains draped by white hovering clouds. Fittingly, Kyle Busch's historic driving victory at NASCAR's Pala Casino 400 on Sunday afternoon was the answer. He pushed the Lucas Oil #8 Chevy the final 21-laps, leading to a comfortable 3-second victory on the 2-mile oval that has served him so well over the past two decades.
"That's what I enjoy the most about this racetrack. It's a two-mile racetrack. It's big. It gets spread out. But man, you can move around, and you can spread out. And you can make your own destiny by trying to find something else that will help work for your race car," said Busch, who passed legend Richard Petty's NASCAR record for consecutive years with a victory.
"There's not very many records that you can beat that Richard Petty has," said Busch who alluded to extending the streak for a few more years. "And certainly, that was one that I set early on a long, long time ago that I always wanted to achieve and get. So, I'm just so thankful for the opportunity to set that bar and would love to continue to keep raising it."
Busch, who's 61st Cup Series trophy increased his streak of 19 consecutive years with at least one win, lamented: "It's a sad day for me to see this racetrack be in its last race being a two-mile configuration. Glad I was able to win the final run here." The track is reportedly to be replaced by a 1/2 mile track in the near future. Busch won his first Cup Series race when it was affectionately known as California Speedway in 2005, his first year as a fulltime driver on the circuit.
Local heavy rains threatened to wash out the entire weekend, but the stock car race gods stopped the showers long enough to entertain a final sold-out crowd with back-to-back races totaling 700 miles. The Xfinity Series' Production Alliance Group 300 was postponed Saturday and moved to Sunday evening following the Pala Casino 400. John Hunter Nemechek led for 49 laps to drive his #20 Toyota to his third Xfinity Series win.
Chase Elliott, 2020 Cup Series Champion, finished second in the #9 Chevy. Ross Chastain, who led most of the race for 91 laps in completed the Chevy podium trifecta in the #1 Next Gen Camaro ZL1 model. "It was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do, said Elliott. "Appreciate everybody's effort, everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet... Congratulations to Kyle. For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool."
Chastain thought his team did everything right but Busch was getting faster: "To start off this year the way we have is a total 180 from last year when it was not like this, so as much as it stings, as much as it does hurt, hats off to Chevrolet for top four there, and pumped to be in this position with Trackhouse, and for our first crack at the big tracks here, it's all we can ask for, and we will regroup and study and be back next week."
Having won in only his fourth race for his new team, Richard Childress Racing, Busch started three weeks ago in Los Angeles at The Clash at the Coliseum where he finished third. He raced to 19th place in both the Duel at Daytona and the Daytona 500 last week. He and his brother also broke another barrier. Kyle and Kurt Busch now hold the record for most combined Cup victories by brothers with 95, one more than Bobby and Donnie Allison total combined wins.
Busch, who won two series championships with Joe Gibbs Racing in 15 season before joining Richard Childress Racing: "We've had five wins, including today, so just great time at California Speedway... this place has had a lot of great memories."
"We need to be in Southern California. I was really, really pleased and happy with the crowd that came out today. I thought that was awesome to see. There was a really good turnout for as cold as it was. I really thought people would shy away. But man, they came, so it was really, really good. Just hope that the next track that we have puts on the show that we've been able to see here for the last probably 10 years, 12 years."
Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen also gave a farewell salute to the faithful who have supported NASCAR races at Auto Club Speedway starting in 1997: "From our campers who lined up to park on Thursday to the fans who visited us at the box office this morning, we've seen nothing but an amazing show of support. We're grateful for the opportunity to provide them a day to remember at this 2-mile oval."