Pala Casino 400 highlights: 10-car pileup at Fontana causes chaos
Kyle Busch beat out dozens of drivers in the 200-lap Pala Casino 400 on Sunday in the final race of the NASCAR Cup Series’ February lineup.
Busch secured the win after 28 lead changes and after being as far back as 32nd.
It marked his 19th consecutive season with at least one win, breaking Richard Petty’s all-time record.
It all went down in front of a sold-out crowd at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California — and we had you covered with all the must-see moments from start to finish, exclusively on FOX and the FOX Sports App.
Here are the top moments!
Pala Casino 400
Michael Rooker, who played legendary NASCAR driver Rowdy Burns in “Days of Thunder,” gave the command for drivers to start their engines.
Just like that, things got underway in Fontana!
Christopher Bell won the pole for Sunday’s race, while Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joined him on the front row to start. Bell led the first lap, while Stenhouse and Cody Ware, who also began up front, immediately sunk like stones from their starting spots. It wasn’t long until Alex Bowman, the 2020 Fontana winner, took over the lead on Lap 2.
Ross Chastain and Joey Logano began to chase down Bowman for the top spot as the first 10 laps flew by.
Trouble for No. 5
Kyle Larson, who was running eighth at the time, came to pit road on Lap 12 with an apparent engine and/or electrical issue.
Meanwhile, there was a competition caution at Lap 15 for teams to check tire wear, among other things, due to Saturday’s weather.
Martin Truex Jr. drew a pit-road penalty for an uncontrolled tire, which, along with servicing equipment and crew members, by rule may not interfere or impede with another team’s pit stop.
The green flag was back out on Lap 21 with Chastain in front.
What could have been
Elsewhere, Busch was this close to making a three-wide pass for third, but he couldn’t overtake Bowman and Ryan Blaney. The loss of momentum dropped Busch back to sixth, while Bubba Wallace was hot on his tail after starting 18th.
Meanwhile, Larson reentered the race after his team got his engine restarted. However, he lost 17 laps in the process.
The caution came out for a spin off of Turn 2 involving Brad Keselowski after he got contact from Corey LaJoie.
The green flag returned at Lap 47, as Stage 1 started to wind down.
Stage 1 in the books
Chastain continued to lead with 10 laps to go in Stage 1.
Blaney gave him a run for his money on the final lap of the opening stage, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Chastain, who picked up the Stage 1 win followed by Blaney, Daniel Suárez, Bowman and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five.
There was a big crash on the backstretch in Stage 2 that drew another caution.
AJ Allmendinger got the worst of it, ending his race early.
Miscue for No. 19
Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr.’s wheel got loose on the backstretch, resulting in a two-lap penalty.
LaJoie got tagged by Tyler Reddick, bringing out the caution out again in Stage 2.
A few drivers went to pit road under caution, while new race leader Noah Gragson stayed out.
The green flag was back out on Lap 87, but it was short-lived. A massive 10-car pileup involving Keselowski, Blaney, Bell, Reddick, Ware, Aric Almirola, Justin Haley, Todd Gilliland, Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon immediately brought out the yellow back out.
Four drivers — Bell, Reddick, Almirola and Preece — weren’t able to continue after the collision. It marked Reddick’s second DNF in his first two races for 23XI Racing. It was the largest crash in the history of Auto Club Speedway.
Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, more involved in big wreck during Stage 2
Chastain drove off from the rest of the field and built his lead out to six seconds to win Stage 2, followed by Busch, Logano, Harvick and Suárez rounding out the top-five finishers.
On the move
As the third and final stage got underway, a three-wide battle emerged between Logano, Suárez and Chase Elliott.
With 50 laps to go, the front of the pack was racing hard for any little advantage.
Busch took the lead after starting in 21st place with 20 laps to go.
Elliott was challenging Busch for the lead with less than 10 laps remaining, but Busch drove away with the win in the end.
Setting the stage
Ahead of Sunday’s action, FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass shared what to watch for during the doubleheader.
NASCAR scrapped all activity scheduled for Saturday due to inclement weather, as heavy rains pelted the two-mile track at Auto Club Speedway — which hasn’t been paved since it opened 25 years ago and is one of the most difficult to dry.
Both Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers raced Sunday with no practice.
Sunday was the last race on the track’s two-mile oval, as public records show NASCAR has sold 433 acres and plans to keep 90 acres to convert the facility into a half-mile track with 35,000 grandstand seats.
NASCAR already announced that it won’t race at the track in 2024, as it begins converting to the short track.
Ahead of Sunday’s action, a few of the race’s biggest stars stopped by to talk with FOX’s NASCAR crew.
‘The real season starts here’: Kyle Busch on previous Pala Casino 400 wins
Former Pala Casino 400 winner Kyle Larson reveals his game plan for Sunday
Tyler Reddick talks Pala Casino 400 experience, goals
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins Clint Bowyer ahead of Pala Casino 400
Top stories from FOX Sports:
FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience
NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Get more from NASCAR Cup Series Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more