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Dale Junior: 'a weird day.' But this California 400 was a great one!

Dale Junior: 'a weird day.' But this California 400 was a great one!

The protagonists: Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin(L-R) (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Totally unexpected -- a furious, brilliant finish at California's much-maligned Auto Club Speedway. And just where these first five races of the season leave this new 2013 stocker is, well, looking not that bad at all.
   Kurt Busch, who finished third, his best run yet with his new team and new crew chief Todd Berrier, called the final 50 miles chaotic.
   Tire strategies and track position kept crew chiefs gambling and scrambling throughout the three-hour high-speed race. Winning crew chief Dave Rogers worried he's put Kyle Busch in a bind by not stopping late for four tires, in order to give his driver better track position. But Kyle made it all work...though only after Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano crashed hard while battling for the lead the last lap.
   "Logano is going to be fast overall," Kurt Busch said of the end-game, pointing toward Logano's great pure speed, "where Hamlin is going to be fast in the corners with fresh(er) tires.
   "It's just chaos, and you hope when you clear somebody that your momentum will allow you to draft with them and you're not stuck side by side drafting and slowing yourselves down and waiting for the guy behind you to banzai in there.
    "It's a freeforall."

   Another major issue for drivers Sunday afternoon -- the very bumpy backstretch
   "Do everybody a favor, whoever owns this place, and pave the back straightaway," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, after taking the Sprint Cup points lead into the Easter break.
   "The back straightaway, there's some real bad bumps. We all watched it on TV in the Nationwide race (Saturday) and I'm sure you saw it today. 
    "It's just going down the back straight.  It probably doesn't cost much to pave the two lanes we race in, and that would really cure any complaints I got. 
    "I think the corners are perfect.  I wouldn't pave anything, or change anything, about the turns. 
    "This place has got  the age of asphalt I think tracks strive for.  This is what places like Michigan (new asphalt last year) and Phoenix (also new asphalt last year) look forward to --when they get a good 10 or 15 years on their asphalt. 
     "This (asphalt) is really right in the ballpark, right in everybody's wheelhouse. 
    "It's just real bumpy down the back straight, and it doesn't have to be. I think they can fix that with a couple lanes of asphalt on the outside toward the wall."

  The start: teammates Denny Hamlin (11) and Matt Kenseth (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Winner Kyle Busch certainly didn't have anything to worry about. He dominated Saturday's Nationwide race and he dominated Sunday's Cup race too.
    However rivals got downright crazy the last 50 miles, zig-zagging like wild men, diving for holes that weren't really there, diving to the apron to make it four-wide at times.
    It was rather breath-taking, and totally unexpected at this track.
    Kyle Busch realized Logano and Hamlin, though ahead of him in the final miles, could take each other out at any moment. For some reason those two suddenly have a 'history.'
   "We had to get by before they wrecked," Busch said of his end-game.
   "When they both went to the bottom side in three and four, I'm like 'Oh, man, this is golden.'
    "Lo and behold, I put my foot to it and drove around the outside of them before they started crashing...or maybe as they were crashing, I'm not sure."

    Amazingly, Busch's last tour win was nearly a year ago, at Richmond.
    That, plus the blown engine at Daytona and a poor day at Phoenix, left him feeling relief: "Man, it feels so good to finally win.  
    "But we weren't going to win if it wasn't for those two  battling.  If they had been single-file and just racing, it would have went down in order."
    "They got to racing, and racing really hard, and I think they forgot about me.
    "Those guys went to racing each other really hard -- which is what this sport is all about, and what's great about NASCAR.  But unfortunately it got a little dirty there at the end.
      "It's hard racing, but it's also dirty sometimes...but you are going for the win. Nothing I'm sure other people wouldn't do to me. 
      "It looked like Joey went to the bottom (in turns three and four) but didn't quite get all the way down there, and knew Denny was going to have the run on the outside. So he slid up a little bit. 
    "I'm not sure if he (Logano) lost his front end or not, but they got together a little bit, and it turned Denny sideways, and Joey got into the fence too.
     "I did win the race, by the way, so that might be a story.  But I'm sure it's not."

   Rogers, Kyle's crew chief, was worried he's put Busch in a hole down the stretch, by not giving him four new tires.
     "I just decided to make it interesting on Kyle there, staying out and letting him go on those (old) tires," Rogers quipped.
     The pit strategy throughout the race for every team was a guessing game. At the end, though, everyone had fresh tires except for Kyle Busch and Logano.     
    "Kyle did a great job moving around and figuring out how to get the most out of his car with what he had," Rogers said.


   Joey Logano (22) and Denny Hamlin haven't been playing nice together this season (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Yippe what a race!!!! Man did DW kick off the

Yippe what a race!!!! Man did DW kick off the race right by telling everyone to get up off your feet! He must of felt something cause this was one race you didnt want to sit down for! Wheres all my Cali haters at now??????????????

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