first_imgWhat looked to be one of the closest finishes yet during a Cup race at the speedway fizzled when Kevin Harvick, running second, was forced to pit with a flat tire with four laps to go. With Kenseth’s biggest challenger out of contention, the Ford driver beat the Chevrolets of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Mark Martin to earn his sixth career victory at California Speedway, along with a Saturday-Sunday sweep. It was the 13th win for Roush Fenway Racing at the track. “That is awesome, you guys!” Kenseth yelled on the team radio as his Carhartt-sponsored car streaked across the finish line. “Thanks to everyone – especially Robbie, if you’re listening.” “Robbie” would be crew chief Robbie Reiser, who was forced to watch the race from home thanks to a four-race suspension from a Daytona 500 infraction. Kenseth’s crew, led by interim crew chief Chip Bolin, got the driver out front on a pit stop under caution with 20 laps to go. That caution for a mysterious bit of debris that never was shown halted 102 consecutive laps of green-flag racing and erased Johnson’s lead. “If anyone has seen the debris, I’d like to know where it was,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see any. There was five trucks looking, and I still don’t think they ever saw it.” Kenseth got the lead out of the pits, followed by Harvick, Burton, Gordon and Johnson, who lost four spots. It seemingly set up a 20-lap shootout between Saturday night’s Busch Series winner and last week’s Daytona 500 champion, and Harvick apparently was on his way to making a run at the lead as the laps wound down. But David Reutimann’s crash with seven laps to go caused a 15-minute red flag and another restart – this time with four laps remaining. But just as the drivers rolled through Turn 4 and prepared to dash to the finish, Harvick turned down pit road to repair the unluckiest of flat tires. It was a stunning turn of events for a driver who was trying to become the first person since Jeff Gordon in 1997 to win the first two races of the season. “We were going to beat him,” Harvick said matter-of-factly after getting out of his car. “But shoulda, woulda, coulda. He won the race.” Harvick finished 17th, and Kenseth beat Gordon by 0.679 seconds to win his 15th career Cup race. “It’s crazy how things like that happen,” Gordon said of Harvick’s misfortune. “The guy wins the Daytona 500, everything goes right last week and then something like that happens.” Prior to the eventful last 20 laps, the estimated 70,000 fans had an opportunity to wander around, shop for merchandise or shiver in the cold while the field ran long enough without a caution to make two green-flag stops. That was much different than the first half of the race, which had seven cautions. After his fifth-place finish Sunday and well-documented runner-up effort at Daytona, Martin is atop the points standings for the first time since 2002 ahead of Burton, Gordon, Harvick and rookie David Ragan, who replaced Martin in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 car. Roush and Martin parted ways after last season, but it’s done nothing to slow down either of their careers so far. There have been 39 NASCAR events at California Speedway, and Roush has won one-third of them. He’s also won seven of the last eight spring races at the track, counting all three professional series. [email protected] (909) 386-3865 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Roushville or Kensethtown should be the leading candidates. NASCAR team owner Jack Roush and driver Matt Kenseth made for a winning combination yet again Sunday at the two-mile oval by going to Victory Lane in the Nextel Cup Series’ Auto Club 500 for the second year in a row. center_img • Photo Gallery: Auto Club 500 | 2 | 3 • Photo Gallery: Racing Fans FONTANA – Since Fontana can’t actually lay claim to having California Speedway within its city limits, perhaps the county of San Bernardino should charter a new city. last_img read more