Auto racing: Busch avoids last-lap crash to win Fontana

2013-03-25T00:00:00Z Auto racing: Busch avoids last-lap crash to win FontanaThe Associated Press The Associated Press
March 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

FONTANA, Calif. - Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano raced side by side into the final lap, two bitter rivals unwilling to give even an inch - right up until they made contact with less than a mile to go.

The race ended with Hamlin in the hospital, Logano in a shoving match with Tony Stewart, and Kyle Busch celebrating a victory that seemed secondary to all the fury at Fontana.

Hamlin was airlifted away from the track Sunday after a collision with Logano on the penultimate turn sent him nearly head-on into the inside wall, putting a spectacular finish on the fifth race of the NASCAR season.

Logano managed to finish third despite wrecking into the outside wall after hitting Hamlin, who spun Logano last week at Bristol and sparked a bitter post-race confrontation that didn't cool off during the past week.

Yet the 22-year-old Logano might have even bigger worries than his burgeoning feud with Hamlin, whose team expects him to be fine. Stewart got into a post-race shoving match with Logano, with the three-time champion threatening to "whoop his (butt)" after Logano aggressively blocked Stewart out of a late restart.

"It's time he learns a lesson," Stewart said.

"He's run his mouth long enough. ... He's nothing but a little rich kid that's never had to work in his life, so he's going to learn what us working guys who had to work our way up (know about) how it works."

Almost forgotten in the post-race frenzy was Busch, who led 125 of 200 laps in his Toyota and earned his first victory of the season when he sped past Hamlin and Logano on the final turn. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also ceded the spotlight, even though NASCAR's most popular driver moved into the Sprint Cup Series points lead with his second-place finish.

Even without Busch and Junior, NASCAR's closest race to Hollywood had an abundance of drama.

"I'm tired of these guys doing that stuff, especially out of a kid that's been griping about everybody else, and then he does that the next week," Stewart said, referring to Logano's complaints about other drivers' similar moves.

"He sent Denny to the hospital and screwed our day up. He's talked the talk, but he hasn't walked the walk yet."

Hamlin and Logano ended up racing together again in the opening laps at Fontana, with Logano practically grazing Hamlin's bumper early on. Their final-lap theatrics appeared to be motivated by fierce racing for a win, not revenge.

They were side-by-side heading into the final lap and largely stayed that way until Turn 3, where Logano began to work up the track. The cars made contact and eventually lost control, with Logano hitting the wall while Hamlin slid inside and made heavy contact with the wall.

Hinchcliffe wins his 1st race in IndyCar opener

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - James Hinchcliffe, the Canadian driver poised to become IndyCar's next star, grabbed his first career victory.

Hinchcliffe passed Helio Castroneves on the final restart to take the lead and held on to win by 1.09 seconds over the defending race winner. He became the first Canadian to win since Paul Tracy's 2007 victory at Cleveland in the CART Series.

Vettel of Red Bull wins Malaysian GP

SEPANG, Malaysia - Sebastian Vettel's 27th victory in Formula One didn't earn him a lot of admiration. He even had to apologize for it.

The three-time defending champion ignored team orders Sunday and overtook fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber toward the end to win the Malaysian Grand Prix, having been told to stand down and cruise to a 1-2 finish.

The German's move left Webber fuming and had team officials remonstrating Vettel publicly after the race. Vettel apologized, but said he didn't realize he had been told to hold back.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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