Busch avoids Hamlin-Logano wreck in Fontana finish
By GREG BEACHAM
the associated press | March 25,2013
Rescue workers tend to the wreckage of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin after he collided with Joey Logano on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race in Fontana, Calif., Sunday March 24, 2013. The pair had been battling for the lead the last three laps. The No. 18 car of Kyle Busch passes behind on its vicory lap. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
FONTANA, Calif. — Kyle Busch earned his first victory at Fontana on Sunday after rivals Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wrecked on the final lap in a thrilling NASCAR finish.
Hamlin and Logano made contact while they raced side-by-side in the final lap of their first race since the drivers confronted each other last week at Bristol. Logano hit the outside wall and Hamlin hit the inside wall, with Hamlin leaving the course in an ambulance.
Tony Stewart then confronted Logano after the race and shoved the younger driver before teammates pulled them apart. Logano blocked Stewart out of a late restart.
Busch led the most laps and took advantage of his remarkable stroke of luck to pick up Joe Gibbs Racing’s first victory at Fontana, the only track where the team had never won.
“They forgot about me. I knew they were going to,” Busch said. “We had a good run on the top side, and they were messing with each other so bad that they took each other down. I was just hoping I could get by before they took me with him.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and took over the lead in the points standings despite falling from third to 22nd late in the race with a dismal pit stop. Kurt Busch came in third, with Carl Edwards fourth and Greg Biffle fifth in front of Logano.
Kyle Busch’s victory was his 25th in NASCAR, completing a weekend sweep after his Nationwide Series victory Saturday. He ended a 31-race Cup winless streak since last April at Richmond.
Last week at Bristol, Hamlin spun Logano while Logano was racing Jeff Gordon for the late lead. Hamlin claimed Logano had cut him off three times earlier in the race, but Logano ran over to Hamlin’s car afterward and leaned in his window for an angry exchange before the teams pulled them apart.
Their final-lap theatrics at Fontana mostly appeared to be motivated by fierce racing for a win in a back-and-forth race on a wide two-mile track. Hamlin’s crash was more dramatic than Logano’s contact with the wall, with Hamlin’s car going head-on into the inside wall.
Hamlin got himself out of the car, but then slumped to the ground beside it before medical help arrived. NASCAR didn’t immediately have an update on his condition.
“Reverse of last week, opposite of what he did last week,” Logano said. “So that’s what he gets.”
Logano then got into a shoving match with Stewart, who also had a late lead. Logano went extremely low to block Stewart out of a late restart, and Stewart was furious.