Bowyer spins late, Kyle Busch out duels rookie Larson at Auto Club Speedway

Published On: Mar 24 2014 01:36:11 AM CDT

NASCAR via Getty Images

Kansas native Clint Bowyer was two laps away from a pretty good finish at the Auto Club speedway, when he went for a spin.  His final car to see problems with tires in Fontana, a left rear tire went flat in his case. And instead Bowyer finished 16th.

“We can’t seem to catch a break,” said Bowyer. “We lead for a while, we came back after confusion with the lights on pit road and were in contention to win at the end.  However, we started feeling a vibration with about four to go and it just didn’t make it.  It just stinks for this team.  We had an awesome PEAK Toyota and we had shot to win today.”

Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson was also among those who had tire troubles, as did Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Marcos Ambrose.

When the race got restarted after the Bowyer wreck, it set up a green, white, checkered finish and a thrilling finish between a pair of Kyles, Busch and Larson.

The rookie came darn close to winning his first race his career. Instead Busch held him off by .241 seconds.

“I think the fans won today, too.  Holy cow, what do you expect when you get a green-white-checkered finish and everybody has to come down pit road for tires,” said Busch. “ I went into turn one thinking I’m going to run the middle and then Tony started sliding off the bottom and I’m like, ‘Nope, not having it.’  I had to get some brake and cut my car to the left and drove underneath him and got him cleared off turn two and I was able to keep Kyle Larson behind me.  Man, what a shoe that boy is.  If he would have gotten alongside of me it would have been a whale of a race.  I drove off into turn three, but I heard car inside on my left.  If he drove it in further than I did, Jesus must have told him to stop.  I just can’t say enough about all these guys on this Interstate Batteries Toyota team.  What an awesome race this track produced.  I just can’t believe it.”

Busch has all but assured himself a place in the Chase for the Championship with the win.

His teammate Denny Hamlin missed the race after server headaches and blurred vision sent him to the hospital. Sam Hornish finished 17th filling in for Hamlin.

"It wasn't just a headache, it was more serious than that,” said car owner JD Gibbs. "That's why they're doing the CT Scan now. He had them on the whole time and was just holding his head, it hurt him so bad. You could tell by the look on his face he was really worried."

Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.