Kyle Busch holds on in frantic Fontana finish

GREG BEACHAM
Last updated 14:02 24/03/2014
Kyle Busch
Getty Images

RING MY BELL: Kyle Busch rings the bell in Victory Lane after winning the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, California, becoming the fifth different winner in as many Nascar races this season.

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Kyle Busch won the Nascar Sprint Cup race in Fontana for the second straight year on Sunday (local time), holding off Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and his older brother Kurt on a frantic two-lap sprint to the finish.

Kyle Busch capably blocked Larson and outlasted Stewart and Kurt Busch to win a race that featured a track-record 35 lead changes and numerous tire problems.

With his 29th career Sprint Cup victory in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch is Nascar's fifth winner in five races already this season. He led just five laps - the fewest of his career in a win.

Jimmie Johnson was comfortably in front when he blew a tire with seven laps left, and Jeff Gordon then led until Clint Bowyer spun with two laps to go, setting up an overtime finish.

Gordon was hoping to finish on old tires when Bowyer spun, but then elected to pit along with most of the leaders. Kurt Busch gambled with just two tires, allowing him to restart in second, but his younger brother came up from fifth in the final two laps to win.

"I came off the fourth turn in disbelief that we won this thing, because we were mediocre all day," Kyle Busch said.

Larson, a 21-year-old newcomer to Nascar, posted the best finish of his career.

"I guess you couldn't ask for more, but I was surprised to get up there late in the race," Larson said. "We were probably a 12th-place car for most of the day."

Kurt Busch finished third, with Matt Kenseth in fourth and 2012 champion Stewart in fifth.

Several teams had serious tire problems on this weathered track, with multiple flats and cautions for various problems throughout the day.

The problems likely were the latest effect of Nascar's new aero rules, which are producing higher speeds that lead to extra stress on the tires - particularly on the bumpy asphalt on Fontana's back straightaway, which already wears out tires aggressively.

Those problems might frustrate pit crews, but they can also lead to phenomenal racing, as the crowd on its feet for the finish could attest.

Edwards finished 10th at Fontana and stayed one point ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr, who finished 12th, for the overall points lead.

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- AP

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