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Kyle Busch leads NASCAR's Auto Club 400 after 200 miles

March 27, 2011 |  1:50 pm


The second 100 miles started off pretty much as the first 100 ended -- with green-flag racing. In fact, on lap 65 a record was set for the number of consecutive green-flag laps at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 at Fontana.

Around lap 66, the second set of green-flag pit stops started to unfold. Martin Truex Jr. and Tony Stewart stayed out a bit longer to pick up points for leading a lap. Jeff Burton was penalized for entering pit row too fast, forcing him to re-enter the pits as a penalty.

By lap 70, Kyle Busch was back in front followed by Truex. At the 150-mile point (75 laps) the first caution of the day was called, allegedly for debris in the third turn.  Of course, with TV watching no doubt reaching mind-numbing proportions, the caution allowed NASCAR to gather the field together and promote more competitive racing.

Every driver but one used the caution as an opportunity to pit. Stewart  elected to stay out with only six laps on his tires. That put him in first place when the green flag was dropped on lap 80.

Stewart teammate Ryan Newman was next to him on the restart and quickly took his turn at the front of the field, being chased by Kyle Busch and Stewart.

On lap 83, front-row starter Denny Hamlin was experiencing problems and dropped to the bottom of the track as he and his crew tried to figure out why the car wasn't running right. He elected to stay out on the track.

Stewart moved back into the lead on the 88th lap, followed by Kyle Busch and Newman. Kyle Busch then retook the lead three laps later.

At the halfway mark of the race, 40 of the 43 cars remained on the track, with 26 of them still on the lead lap. Kyle Busch was the leader by less than a second  followed by Stewart, Newman, Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson, Truex, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Cint Bowyer.


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--John Cherwa  

Photo: The crew of NASCAR driver Carl Edwards goes to work on changing tires, cleaning the car's grill and refilling the gas tank during a pit stop at the Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 on Sunday in Fontana. Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images for NASCAR