• July 29, 2014

NASCAR Close finish at Fontana due to late-race tire mishaps

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Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 12:07 am

Kyle Busch took first place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 on Sunday in Fontana, Calif. 

The current and prior owner of Waco’s Heart O’ Texas Speedway, both huge NASCAR fans, had differing views on the race.

“Speaking from a promoter’s aspect, I hate to see a win like that,” said David Goode, the speedway’s current owner.

“I thought the race on Sunday was very good,” said Gene Adamcik, who owned Heart O’ Texas for 32 years before selling to Goode in late 2013. “The mess with all the tires on Sunday made this a very good and interesting race.”

Jimmie Johnson had a comfortable lead in Fontana until his left front tire blew out with seven laps to go. Then Jeff Gordon took the lead.

“At that point, I thought Gordon had it won,” Goode said. “Then came the mess.”

Three more cars blew tires and on lap 198 (of a scheduled 200) NASCAR called the caution.

“NASCAR won’t allow a race to finish under a caution, so they went to the green-white-checker, and all the guys out there were on old tires,” Goode said. “So everyone, even the leader Jeff Gordon, had to change tires.”

“NASCAR has had difficulties in the past producing close races,” Adamcik said. “But this year they seem to be getting close finishes and that’s what happened on Sunday.”

Busch had a quick pit stop, Gordon not as quick.

“Kyle Busch had a great pit stop and came out of that pit stop in first place, and that is a big part of the sport,” Goode said. “From a track promoter’s point of view, I’d rather see the race won by the driver, not the pit crew.”

Ultimately Busch, age 28, took first place and earned $324,531.

“I will say this for Busch: He still had to work for it,” Goode said.

Rookie Kyle Larson, 21, drove Busch hard in the end and took second place.

“Larson is a tough rookie,” Goode said. “He’s a young kid but is driving very strong.”

“I am so impressed with Larson and how he’s doing,” Adamcik said.

“Kyle Busch is a heck of a driver, too. Busch was arrogant but he now seems to be coming around, growing up.”

Goode said the climax to Sunday’s race in Fontana provided a good lesson to all racing fans.

“You never, never know who is going to win the race you’re watching,” Goode said. “Don’t give up on the driver you’re rooting for until the checkered flag flies.

“The fastest guy on Sunday was Jimmie Johnson. The second fastest was Jeff Gordon. Kyle Busch was probably the 10th fastest all day — and yet he got the celebration.”

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