That’s a wrap on the final race at the Fontana CA 2 mile configuration.
Kyle Busch wasted little time getting into Victory Lane in his new #8 RCR Camaro. I had no doubt he’d find The Winner’s Circle but admittedly didn’t expect it in race #2
Busch passed Michael McDowell and led the final 21 laps for the win. He finished 2.98 seconds ahead of Chase Elliott for the third largest Margin Of Victory since the race went to 400 miles in 2010.
Third place finisher Ross Chastain won Stages 1 and 2 and leaves the Golden State as the top point-getter for the race, beating race-winner Busch 54 to 49 . This “great points day” moved Chastain atop the season points leaderboard with a narrow one point lead over Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano. Chastain has won three of the four stages this season and is collecting Playoff Points the hard way-one at a time. He led the field five time for 91 of the race’s 200 laps with the next closest being race-winner Busch who led three times for 27 laps.
Fourth place went to Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s teammate. Daniel led no laps but his strong Stage and Race finishes resulted in the third highest point total for the day. After two races he finds himself fifth in points.
The race saw 28 lead changes among 12 drivers and was slowed 8 times (3 for completion cautions and Stage Breaks) for 38 laps, including “The Big One” on the Lap 88 restart that involves eight cars.
One of the primary metrics used by NASCAR is green flag passes. This race saw 3512 GFPs which was up from 2696 in NEXT GENS first race here but down from the last GEN-6 race here in 2020 that saw 3968 GFPs-the highest since the race went to the 400-mile format.
The race saw 1328 Quality Passes. These are Green Flag Passes that took place in positions 1-15. A that means that the top 41.7% of the field (P1-15) produced 37.8% of the green flag passes. Another way to look at it is of the passes for positions done more was done at P16 or below than further up front.
There was 28 lead changes. 10 occurred under Caution Flag conditions, resulting in 18 Green Flag Lead Changes. 10 of those occurred in the first three laps after the race start or restart while the field was bunched and green flag pit stops resulted in four more Lead Changes.
Four Lead Changes were a result of a car passing the leader to take the lead. These we refer to as Racing Lead Changes and though not an official metric is what fans think of when they hear “Lead Changes”.
So of the 28 Lead Changes four were a result of a driver passing another for the lead without benefit of caution, restarts or leaders relinquishing the lead to pit.
In this race we saw on
Lap 28-Joey Logano pass Ross Chastain
Lap 29-Ryan Blaney pass Joey Logano
Lap 98-Ross Chastain pass Denny Hamlin
Lap 180-Kyle Busch pass Michael McDowell and lead the final 21 laps for the win.
These four Racing Lead Changes was down one from last year.
For those keeping score at home Martin Truex, Jr. (Who else?) was the first driver penalized under the new loose tire penalty after losing a wheel on track after the fourth caution.
Also the new restart zone rule is being blamed in part for “The Big One”. We’ll just have to see how that plays out going forward.
Overall, it was the things not on the stat sheet that will be what this final race will be known for
It was the final race here in the configuration
It was announced as a sellout. Big shoutout for all the fans who endured the less than ideal race conditions to send her off.
The crazy weather conditions dominated the story lines
Kyle Busch’s first win for RCR,
Kyle has had a win with every team he has driven for in Cup,
He has won a race in 19 consecutive years of racing, passing previous record holder at RIchard Petty with 18,
The race had a Big One (for those who like crashes)
Was a strong showing by Chevrolet and Trackhouse Racing.
The Series left Fontana with more questions about its future or Cup racing’s future in Southern California.
Is what we saw good-bye or we’ll see you later? Only time will tell.
On to Vegas.
Thunder On… and Stay Safe!
Photo Credit (Cover); Meg Oliphant / Getty Images