NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) celebrates in victory lane following his win of the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
FONTANA, Calif. — As Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin made significant contact while racing for the checkered flag on the final lap at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Busch drove past them both to win the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.
“They forgot about me,” Busch said after taking the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory lane. “I knew they would’ve.”
Busch and Logano swapped the lead several times in the closing laps before Logano and Hamlin both got past Busch with six laps to go. Logano and Hamlin then raced side by side in the closing laps before Logano’s car slid up the race track on the final lap, making contact with Hamlin, allowing Busch to make the final pass for the win.
Hamlin, in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, made hard, head-on contact with the inside retaining wall. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, though he was awake and alert.
Logano, driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford, was able to continue after scraping the outside wall. He finished seventh after leading 41 laps of the 200-lap race.
Logano and Hamlin feuded a week prior at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and the feud spilled over to Twitter. Logano also made an enemy of Tony Stewart (No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet) late in the race at Auto Club Speedway.
Logano threw a block on Stewart on the final restart of the race to maintain position following a caution that came out in the final 15 laps.
When the dust cleared, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) came in second place, enabling him to take the championship points lead and build up a 12-point cushion over reigning series champ Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Penske Racing Ford). Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet) finished third after overcoming an early-race pit road speeding penalty.
Hamlin started on the pole, but he lost the lead on the first lap to teammate Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota). Kyle Busch then moved in front on lap 11 and went on to lead over half of the race.
Busch got shuffled back several positions when drivers including Stewart, Cling Bowyer (No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota), Keselowski and Kenseth got off pit road ahead of him by taking only two tires during a caution with 70 laps to go.
Busch quickly made his way back to the front, though, reclaiming the lead with 53 laps to go. Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) ran second to Busch for a while, until Logano rejoined Busch up front on a restart following a caution that came out with about 30 laps to go.
Carl Edwards (No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) finished fourth, and Greg Biffle (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) was fifth after starting the race in the back because of an engine change.
Keselowski came in 23rd.