Kyle Busch eyeing historic 200th win as NASCAR hits Fontana – KOKH FOX25

Kyle Busch eyeing historic 200th win as NASCAR hits Fontana - KOKH FOX25
How To Watch NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond Online: ToyotaCare 250 Live Stream Channels
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Cole Custer postponed Kyle Buschs historic 200th victory for at least one more day.

Custer held off Busch to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, preventing Busch from tying Richard Pettys record with his 200th win across NASCARs three major series.

The Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway sure started out looking like another romp for Rowdy. He won the first two stages with ease, something he hadn’t done even while rolling to back-to-back Xfinity Series victories the previous two weeks. Busch led almost every lap, put more than half the field a lap or more down, and was so untouchable by about five laps after every restart that someone at the AP jumped the gun and ran the story everyone expected to see, touting Busch as matching Richard Petty with 200 career NASCAR national touring series victories.

The 21-year-old Custer capitalized when a disastrous pit stop dropped Busch to 14th place with 33 laps to go in a race Busch had dominated up to that point. Although Busch charged back through the field, he couldnt catch up to Custer, who drove his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to his third career Xfinity victory on his home track.

That would be Justin Haley, who picked up his third top-10 finish in three races. We could perhaps squabble a bit about whether he’s really an underdog considering his strong performance in the Truck Series last season, but let’s just say Kaulig Racing isn’t exactly Joe Gibbs Racing when it comes to financial resources. The 19-year-old rookie made one heck of a save midway through the race in the middle of traffic, and it paid off with another strong day.

You definitely look in the mirror and you see that black car, and youre just hoping it doesnt get bigger, Custer said.

The Xfinity Series takes a week off, which is kind of a bummer because the track it skips is Martinsville. Texas is the next stop, with the My Bariatric Solutions 300 set for Saturday, March 30. Coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on FS1, which won’t have a boxing pay-per-view to promote that particular night. Ryan Blaney won the race in 2018, but the driver with the most career victories in that event is … wait for it … Kyle Busch.

Analysis: Kyle Buschs 200th win proves you can be a great without seven titles

Custer is from Ladera Ranch, an affluent coastal community in Orange County about 55 miles south of Fontana. The son of veteran racing executive Joe Custer earned his fifth overall victory across NASCARs three major series — just 194 fewer than the 33-year-old Busch.

I grew up racing about 20 minutes from here, (so) it means a lot to come back here and win, Custer said. Every driver wants to win here because of how cool the track is, but also because its a hometown track, it means a lot to me. … Kyle, hes got to be one of the legends of our sport To keep him (waiting) one more race for that 200th win is pretty great. I know hes probably pretty frustrated, though.

Except it didn’t. Cole Custer, who showed the speed to close and pass on short runs but fell off on longer runs, got out to the lead. Busch made his way up to second, but in a surprising turn of events, he actually lost ground to the leader as the laps wound down. Already salty about his crew’s performance, Busch simply seemed at a loss for why his Supra didn’t have the same speed when he needed it most.

Thanks to a pit stop that included a jack mistake and an uncontrolled tire penalty, Busch missed his first chance to match Pettys hallowed mark despite leading 98 of the 150 laps. Hell get another opportunity when he competes in the Cup Series race at Fontana on Sunday.

When you have a fast guy out front and a fast guy in second, they run the same times and they stay the same distance apart, Busch said. We just werent quick enough there at the end to chase them down. … Well see what happens (Sunday).

Cup regular drivers had won 23 consecutive Xfinity series races at Fontana since 2002, but Custer broke the streak at the expense of Busch and Ryan Preece, who finished eighth.

I felt like we were honestly pretty good, Custer said. It was just a matter of getting the track position and getting a tick better, and I think we accomplished all of that.

Busch clearly was the class of the Fontana field under serious gusting wind on the weathered 2-mile asphalt track one hour east of Los Angeles. He led each of the first two stages and was cruising toward his landmark win — but he lost seven spots of track position when his crew had a painfully slow pit stop with 35 laps to go, making a mistake with the jack.

Buschs team was then hit with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, pushing Busch back to 14th when the race resumed. He moved up to second with 15 laps to go, but he just couldnt catch Custer.

Additional info: Story from’s Steve Sweitzer … Story from’s Zachary Horrall … Supercross point standings

They didnt get the jack high enough and they couldnt get the tire off, Busch said. We lost track position there and we had an uncontrolled tire on the same stop and had to go to the back, and (we) rebounded. Thats all there is to it.

Busch started second and took the lead with a side draft on the opening lap of the Xfinity race on Saturday, and he only briefly gave back the lead before reclaiming it and finishing the first stage in front by a healthy 5 seconds. He also led after the second stage, and he stayed in front under pressure from Tyler Reddick before the field slowed up in two cautions, leading to the decisive pit stop.

Additional info: Full results from first Saturday session … Full final practice results … Saturday practice recap

Reddick took the overall Xfinity points standings lead with his fourth-place finish. Custer is seven points behind.

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Its frustrating from my point of view to watch everyone kind of almost blow Jimmie off and think that other guys are better, Bowman told I think Jimmie is the greatest our generation is going to see. If there is a comparison that is going to be made, it should be Jimmie Johnson. Im not trying to take away anything from Kyle Busch. I think hes a great race car driver and probably the most raw-talented guy in the sport. Jimmie … the knowledge that he has and the way he handles himself, the way he leads that race team, its pretty incredible.

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No, because the championship format has changed, Hamlin told Its come down to a one-race thing where it used to be an entire season. … But right now, I think the competition is better right now than it ever has been. Its harder to win than it ever has been. The cars are closer together than its ever been. When you look back in the older era, I think, with all due respect to some other competitors — the Pearsons and Pettys and those guys — they were the best drivers and they had cars that were extremely fast compared to the field.

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Theres no one better, Hamlin said. Ive kind of got to watch and race against what I argue is the best. At the time, I would have said Jimmie X amount of years ago. I battled him through some championships and stuff and I was like, This guy is on another level. I was very unfortunate to race in the Jimmie Johnson era. But now it seems like its kind of a Kyle Busch era in the sense that he has taken over as undoubtedly the best driver in the Cup Series.

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Before 2004, it was always the whole season was the champion, he added. Then, we had the 10-race playoffs and now we have the three, three, three and then one (championship finale). Unfortunately for me, Ive made it to the final four of the last four years and Ive only won it once. I feel like LeBron James because I can make it to the Finals, but once I get there, I cant quite close it out and get it all done.

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In different eras, theres so many different things, Busch said after his milestone victory. Jimmie Johnson should be the G.O.A.T, right? He should be the greatest of all time because he won the most championships in the most different ways of having to win a championship in the most different cars he had to drive in to be able to win races.

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Whats unique about that debate is it doesnt solely rest on Jordan needing six fingers to put on his championship rings, compared to James three so far in his career. James has broken a number of other records — big and small — and has the breathtaking athleticism to be worthy of a place in the conversation.

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But in NASCAR, the greatest driver of all time discussion always seems to include three legends — Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson — because each has seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles. No other records are even considered.

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1. Kevin Harvick 2. Erik Jones 3. Kurt Busch 4. Joey Logano 5. Kyle Busch 6. Martin Truex Jr. 7. Chase Elliott 8. Austin Dillon 9. Daniel Suarez 10. Jimmie Johnson 11. Chris Buescher 12. Brad Keselowski 13. Paul Menard 14. Kyle Larson 15. Aric Almirola 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17. Alex Bowman 18. Denny Hamlin 19. William Byron 20. Matt Tifft 21. Clint Bowyer 22. David Ragan 23. Ryan Preece 24. Daniel Hemric 25. Michael McDowell 26. Bubba Wallace 27. Matt DiBenedetto 28. Corey Lajoie 29. Ryan Blaney 30. Ty Dillon 31. Ryan Newman 32. Landon Cassill 33. Bayley Currey 34. Jeb Burton 35. Quin Houff 36. Joey Gase 37. Ross Chastain

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