Shelbyville Daily Union

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March 28, 2014

Kyle Busch repeats as champion at California

Kyle Busch drove, in his words, a mediocre car, most of the day, but a late race 2-lap shootout put him in victory lane for the first time this year and second in a row at California.

A race record 35 lead changes occurred on the day, and just when you thought you had the race figured out, someone else would blow a tire.

Jimmie Johnson appeared to be in control until seven laps left when he cut down a tire, putting Jeff Gordon in the lead. Gordon was trying to make his old tires last the final few laps, but Clint Bowyer was a thorn in Gordon’s side once again. This time Bowyer spun because of a flat tire, setting up a two lap shootout.

Almost all drivers came to pit road for at least two tires, as tire wear was so critical on this track. Kurt Busch won the race off pit road with a two tire stop, while his brother Kyle started in fifth. Landon Cassill actually stayed out in hopes of holding off the field for the win, but once the green flag flew, that dream was over. He probably had a better chance of rain coming that holding off the field for the win. Kyle Busch shot to the lead and was followed closely by Rookie Kyle Larson, who held off Busch the day before for his first Nationwide victory of his young career.

Larson got close, but Busch took the checkers. Kyle’s brother Kurt held on for third place, while Matt Kenseth was fourth and Tony Stewart posted his second straight top five in fifth place.

While tires were a problem all day, most drivers complimented NASCAR vs blaming Goodyear. NASCAR’s new aero rules 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. So because NASCAR is letting teams be more aggressive it is leading to teams pushing the envelope a bit more and possibly causing more breakdown on various parts of the car, including tires.

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