FONTANA — Fireworks didn’t wait until the race was over as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano got tangled on the final lap, which allowed Kyle Busch to sneak around the outside for the win at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 in Fontana last weekend.
The crash sent Logano up against the outside wall and Hamlin hard into the inside wall. Logano was able to force his mangled Ford across the finish line for third while Hamlin was airlifted to the hospital with a compression fracture in his back.
The fireworks continued in the pits when Tony Stewart accosted Logano, wanting retribution for Logano’s block of Stewart in a late restart. Crews quickly pulled the two apart but tempers continued to flare between crewmembers.
“Joey spun the tires on the restart,” Stewart later said. “For a guy who’s been complaining about how everyone else is driving here, and for him to do that, it’s a double standard. He sent Denny to the hospital and screwed our day up. And then he threw a water bottle at me. After he threw the water bottle at me like a little girl, I have nothing to say to him right now. It’s time he learned a lesson.”
Stewart apparently forgot that it was he who initiated the scuffle, grabbing Logano and pushing him back against his car prior to Logano throwing the water bottle.
“Just racing hard, trying to win the race,” Logano said about the blocking incident that had Stewart ready to throw blows. “I wanted to block that because I knew if he put me three-wide, that would be the end of my race and I wouldn’t win. I was smart enough to realize that. I understand that he’s frustrated and he’s angry and I’ll talk to him about that. I had to do what I had to do.”
Just the day before, Busch had also won the NNS Series Royal Purple 300, and the win on Sunday gave him the weekend sweep and his 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his first at Auto Club Speedway.
“They forgot about me. I knew they were going to,” Busch commented later. “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 them. I did win the race today, by the way. So, that might be a story…. I’m sure it’s not.”