Chevrolet drivers were shut out of the top five starting spots at Auto Club Speedway as Joe Gibbs Racing claimed three of the top five starting spots for Toyota. Denny Hamlin lead the way with a 187.451 MPH qualifying lap.
Ford drivers claimed the next two starting positions with Greg Biffle and point leader Brad Keselowski qualified second and third. Unfortunately both drivers suffered engine problems after qualifying and had to give up their spots to start from the rear.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five starters.
Drop Of The Green
Hamlin picked the outside lane for the start but Matt Kenseth was able to get a great run on the bottom to lead lap one. The early going was all Joe Gibbs as the top three were Kenseth, Hamlin and Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch was on the move and took over the lead from Kenseth on lap eleven as the Gibbs drivers continued to show the way.
This race was all about the closing laps and the battles after the race ended as this was easily the best race of the year so far.
Chasing The Checkers
A late race caution set up a twenty-six lap run to the checkers and defined the pit strategy for the closing laps.
Pit strategy shuffled the running order as seven cars stayed out while the leaders hit pit road. Kyle Busch had dominated most of the day and decided to keep his track position instead of getting fresh rubber.
There was three and four-wide chaos on the restart as Kyle Busch tried to put some distance between himself and his pursuers with fresh tires. However, Mark Martin spun a few laps later erasing Kyle's good restart and bringing the leaders all back together for another try.
Twenty laps remained when we went back to green flag racing. Kyle Busch restarted in the lead ahead of Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski.
Stewart immediately put a move on Kahne and took second. Down the back stretch Stewart pulled even with Kyle Busch but Kyle was just too strong and he put a gap on the battle for second place as Joey Logano moved back past Stewart for the runner-up position.
A Clint Bowyer blown engine brought the caution out once again forcing Kyle Busch to hold off the hoarde once again.
With eleven to go the green flag flew and Kyle Busch was swallowed up by Joey Logano and brother Kurt Busch. Kyle was much too fast though and he battled back to the lead with ten laps to go.
Kyle was too fast for the field but there was a great battle for second as the laps clicked away.
Joey Logano finally claimed second and started to hunt Kyle Busch for the win. Kyle Busch ran the top while Logano would dive on the bottom.
Then Hamlin got into the act as the two rivals from last week bumped on the track. Kyle Busch slipped back to third in a blink while Logano lead Hamlin with five laps to go.
Hamlin caught him with two laps to go with enough time for one last shot.
They took the white flag almost side-by-side and banged doors down the backstretch with Hamlin on the top and Logano on the bottom. In turn three they continued to beat and bang which allowed Kyle Busch to sneak back past both of them for the lead.
Hamlin and Logano wrecked each other leaving Kyle Busch to claim the win and sending Denny Hamlin to the hospital.
After the race Tony Stewart had to be separated from Logano after an aggressive block on the final restart didn't set well with Stewart. I'm sure Denny Hamlin would have also had words for Logano if he hadn't been in an ambulance instead.
Joey Logano's words after the race about the incident with Hamlin? "That's what he gets."
I don't think we have heard the last of this rivalry.
- Kyle Busch
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Kurt Busch
- Carl Edwards
- Greg Biffle
- Joey Logano
- Matt Kenseth
- Paul Menard
- Kasey Kahne
- Ryan Newman
Brad Keselowski's reign at the top of the points was short lived. He finished twenty-third today and gave up the point lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings: