By Sandra MacWatters (Featured Columnist) on March 27, 2011 877
Kyle Busch looked to be set up to sweep the races at Auto Club Speedway, but a caution near the end foiled him and set up a finish that had the fans on their feet.
Busch led 151 laps of the 200 and with nine laps remaining after the final caution, the front pack of cars chose to stay out on the track while many others headed to the pits for tires.
Kevin Harvick in his No. 29 RCR Chevrolet restarted in fifth place as Jimmie Johnson in his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet looked to be gaining the advantage while battling Busch for the lead.
Johnson did get the lead when a charging Harvick blasted pass Busch. On the last lap, he put the nose of his car against Johnson on the straightaway in an effort to distract him and get him loose.
Harvick's strategy worked and he sailed by Johnson for the win. He became the fifth different winner out of the five races this season.
In a post-race interview, Harvick said, "I wanted him to think about me hitting him from the back." Johnson said, "I knew the No. 29 was coming."
Perhaps Carl Edwards best described the Auto Club 400 when he stated, "Everyone was driving insanely hard. It was an exciting race."
Harvick had never won at Auto Club Speedway, but his win today was his 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Everyone expected a California native to win the race and one did, but surprise, surprise, it wasn't Johnson.
Perhaps this is a taste of how the season will play out with the competition stepping up their game to match the No. 48 team.
All sorts of tactics will be used to gain advantage with the new points system set up the way it is. Harvick thought his best tactic was to get Johnson loose, giving him a shot to the rear of his car, and it gained him a win.
For a change, the race at Fontana was filled with exciting moments even though it looked like Busch was the class of the field.
In the end, Johnson was second, Busch was third, followed by Matt Kenseth in fourth, and Ryan Newman in fifth. Carl Edwards took over the lead in the point standings.