Reigning series champion Kyle Larson held off a wild, last-lap charge from Austin Dillon to win Sunday’s wreck-marred Wise Power 400 in Fontana, Calif. – Larson’s first win of the 2022 season.
On the way to the win, however, Larson made contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott as the two were battling for the lead with just under 20 of 200 laps remaining. Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet hit the wall and he eventually spun out on Lap 192.
The victory is Larson’s 17th career win and second at Auto Club Speedway for the California native. Larson led all drivers with 10 wins last season.
“It’s always fun to win here in the home state,” Larson said. “Hard work all weekend. I didn’t feel great in practice yesterday but Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody on the team made great adjustments overnight.
“The car handled a lot better. There were definitely some guys that were quicker than us but they had their misfortune. Just kept our heads in it all day. Long race. Restarts were crazy – the whole runs were crazy.
“It was definitely wild. Definitely cool to get a win here in California. Hopefully, we get on a streak.”
Erik Jones finished third, Daniel Suarez was fourth and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Daniel Hemric and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the entire field pit and for the seventh consecutive time, Tyler Reddick was the first car off pit road.
The race returned to green on Lap 137 with Reddick followed by Jones, Logano, Cole Custer and Denny Hamlin.
On Lap 152, Reddick had a left-rear tire go flat, hit the wall and William Byron got loose under him and the two made contact. Byron went directly to the garage.
All the lead-lap cars pit with Jones the first off pit road. The race restarted on Lap 157.
On Lap 158, a multi-car wreck erupted as Bubba Wallace got loose and hit Brad Keselowski in an incident that also collected Harrison Burton and Austin Cindric.
On the restart on Lap 166, Logano led the way followed by Larson, Jones, Elliott and Alex Bowman.
Larson got around Logano to take the lead on Lap 167 as Logano dropped to second and Ryan Blaney moved to third.
Ross Chastain, while running sixth, spun off Turn 4 on Lap 172 to bring out the 11th caution of the race. Most lead-lap cars pit with Elliott the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 179, Chase Briscoe – who did not pit – led the way followed by Elliott, Bowman and Larson.
Using a three-wide move, Larson quickly powered to the lead after the restart as Bowman tagged the outside wall, but there was no caution.
The next lap, Larson got into Elliott and sent Elliott’s car up the track and into the wall, also with no caution.
With 10 laps remaining, Larson held a 2.2-second advantage over Logano as Austin Dillon ran third, Jones fourth and Blaney fifth.
Elliott spun on the backstretch on Lap 192 to bring out a record-tying 12th caution. All the lead-lap cars pit with Larson first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 197, Larson was followed by Suarez, Logano, Austin Dillon and Jones.
Suarez powered past Larson with three laps to go to grab the lead only to see Larson reclaim the top spot with two to go.
Reddick topped Jones by 1.033 seconds to claim the Stage 2 victory.
Logano finished third, Blaney fourth and Larson rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit and again Reddick was the first off pit road. Todd Gilliland’s No. 38 Ford lost a wheel under caution and had to pit again for a replacement.
On the restart on Lap 74, Reddick was followed by Briscoe, Byron, Larson and Bowman.
Briscoe powered to the lead on the restart, Larson passed him to lead the lap, then Briscoe returned to the front on Lap 75.
Kyle Busch was forced to pit under green on Lap 86 for a flat tire.
Christopher Bell spun off Turn 4 on Lap 91 to bring out a caution. The lead-lap cars all pit and Reddick’s team once again got him off pit road first.
On the restart on Lap 97, Reddick was followed by Briscoe, Byron and Blaney.
On Lap 100, Byron worked his way around Reddick and took the lead in the race for the first time.
Chris Buescher wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 111 to bring out the sixth caution of the race. The field all elected to pit again and for the sixth consecutive time in the race, Reddick was first off pit road. Both Byron and Briscoe had slow pit stops.
On the restart on Lap 116, Reddick was followed by Larson, Jones and Custer.
Coming off Turn 4 on the first lap after the restart, Keselowski spun and ended up in the infield grass. He was able to make it to pit road and rejoined the field.
The race resumed with Reddick out front on Lap 122.
Reddick held off Jones by just under a second to take the Stage 1 victory.
Byron was third, Briscoe fourth and Larson rounded out the top-five.
Cindric started on the pole but Jones went to the inside and grabbed the lead on Lap 1.
On Lap 11, Reddick went outside and around Jones to take over the top spot as Jones dropped to second.
Kyle Busch spun on Lap 15 on the backstretch to bring out the first caution, which NASCAR declared would serve as the planned competition caution.
All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Reddick the first off pit road. When the race resumed on Lap 20, Reddick was followed by Byron, Elliott and Hamlin.
Elliott went to the inside of Reddick off Turn 2 and took the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 23.
With 35 laps remaining in the stage, Elliott had moved out to a 1.1-second lead over Reddick as Byron ran third.
On Lap 35, Reddick got back around Elliott to reclaim the lead shortly after Elliott hit the wall with the right-side of his No. 9 Chevrolet.
Kyle Busch was forced to pit under green on Lap 36 due to overhearing issues.
Elliott spun – likely from a flat tire – in Turn 2 on Lap 38 to bring out a caution. All the lead-lap cars pit with Reddick again the first off pit road. Austin Dillon was penalized for speeding on pit road during his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.
On the restart on Lap 43, Reddick was followed by Jones, Byron and Cindric.
Josh Bilicki spun off Turn 2 on Lap 53 to bring out the third caution of the race. All the lead-lap cars pit and once again Reddick was the first off pit road. Kust Busch was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field.
When the race resumed on Lap 58, Reddick was followed by Byron, Jones and Briscoe.
Seven drivers had to start the race from the rear of the field – Ross Chastain (backup car) and Harvick, Larson, Keselowski, Logano, Bubba Wallace and Justin Haley, all for unapproved adjustments.
Kurt Busch had to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green-flag for multiple pre-qualifying inspection failures.