By Amanda Vincent, NASCAR reporter
- Third win this year
- JGR's seventh in a row at Fontana
- Two tire pit stop key to the win
Kyle Busch's pit strategy wins Nationwide race at Fontana
That was a great way to win the race,
Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team of Joe Gibbs Racing utilized a different late-race pit strategy to claim their third win through five races so far in 2011 and JGR's seventh-consecutive win at Auto Club Speedway with their victory of Saturday's Royal Purple 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
"That was a great way to win the race," Busch said in victory lane.
Edwards was the first of the three to pit, heading down pit road with 18 laps to go. Harvick soon followed, not wanting to stay out very long and lose much ground on old tires. Both Edwards and Harvick went a lap down to Busch, who had assumed the lead when Edwards and Harvick made their stops, but unlapped themselves prior to Busch heading down pit road.
Busch's crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, originally planned for Busch to also take four tires on his final stop, but decided at the last possible second to only put two on the No. 18 car and get Busch back out on the track, still ahead of Edwards and Harvick.
"These guys on pit road -- they're phenomenal," Ratcliff said. Busch's two fresh tires were much slower than Edwards' and Harvick's four, but the laps, at that point, had wound down enough that Busch was still in the lead when the checkered flag waved. Edwards wound up finishing second and Harvick was third.
Harvick took the third-place finish in stride, as it followed a week full of changes at the Kevin Harvick Inc. race shop.
"The main part is today we were competitive," he said after the race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who led several laps early and ran within the top-five all race-long finished fourth.
These guys on pit road -- they're phenomenal.
With the fourth-place finish, Stenhouse Jr. was the highest-finishing Nationwide Series-points earning driver and took over the points lead.
After starting 34th because of an ill-handling racecar during qualifying, Elliott Sadler piloted his Harvick-owned No. 2 car to a fifth-place finish to round out the top-five.
"We had a really good car today during the race," Sadler said.