NASCAR Notes: Good Things Often Come To Those Who Wait
BY DAVE GRAYSON
When it comes to watching NASCAR racing at the Auto Club Speedway, sometimes you have to be patient and wait until the waning laps of the event in order to witness the drama unfold. The middle portion of these events can be somewhat tedious sometimes. However, in recent years, the two mile oval, located in Fontana-California, has developed a rock steady reputation for presenting finishes that makes the fans jump to their feet as well as making fans, watching at home, jump off of their couches while yelling at their televisions.
In other words, to coin an old phrase, good things often come to those who wait. That’s exactly what happened during the 2014 edition of the NASCAR weekend at the Auto Club Speedway.
The late race drama started during the waning laps of Saturday’s Treat My Clot (Dot) Com 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Some thought Sprint Cup veteran Kevin Harvick was going to win this race. Some thought Sprint Cup veteran Kyle Busch was going to add another victory to his massive Nationwide Series stats when he took the race lead with five laps remaining.
To everyone’s amazement it was Kyle Larson, a 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series sophomore and Sprint Cup rookie, who stole the show by taking the lead from Busch one lap later. The 21 year old California native did an outstanding job of keeping Busch and Harvick at bay to score his first series’ win. He also thrilled us by performing a post race burn out through the speedway’s front stretch grass while holding his steering wheel outside of the car’s window.
The surprising turn was quickly labeled the Kyle and Kyle show. At the time no realized that the Kyle and Kyle show was going to produce an amazing sequel approximately 24 hours later.
Fast forward to Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. During the late stages of this stellar event, we were practically willing to bet the farm on Jimmie Johnson scoring his latest California win while adding to the massive stats he’s accumulated at this track. To our amazement, that was upstaged by a flat tire with seven laps remaining in the race.
Next it appeared that Jeff Gordon, in another very strong Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was going to score his latest win in California. That was upstaged by a caution flag that was presented with two laps left in the race. That untimely event led to a green-white-checker finish.
That’s when it appeared that team mates Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart were going to battle for the win while Stewart-Haas Racing fans were whipped to a frenzy.
It was also when the Kyle and Kyle show launched its sequel presentation. Halfway through the white flag lap, Busch and Larson made a stunning move to claim the one-two finish while a packed grandstand of 68,000 hit an even higher level of racing excitement.
In recent years, finishes like this have virtually become the calling card for racing at the Auto Club. In the days prior to last weekend, it was widely regarded by the NASCAR media that last year’s Sprint Cup race was the best event of the 2013 season. After seeing last Saturday and Sunday’s finishes, it appears that the Auto Club Speedway topped that performance.