Kyle Busch wins Nationwide race in Fontana

Kyle Busch added to his career-leading Nationwide race victory total with Saturday's win in Fontana, Calif. Busch has 54 career victories in the series. , left, poses for a photo with Nancy Whitehurst, right, of Bakersfield, Calif., after qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.(AP Photo/Paul Connors)

FONTANA, Calif. — Kyle Busch earned Joe Gibbs Racing’s ninth consecutive Nationwide Series victory at Fontana on Saturday, comfortably beating Sam Hornish Jr. for his third win in five races this season.


Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas haven’t lost a Nationwide race on their unofficial home track since 2007.

Busch pushed ahead late in a back-and-forth duel with Nationwide points leader Hornish’s Ford to win his second consecutive Nationwide race.

“It’s really cool,” Busch said. “They’re known for having great stuff, but you’ve still got to be able to wheel it. I don’t think we were the best car, but we just chased down that 12 car. Didn’t want to see him win in front of our hometown crowd.”

What’s more, Parker Kligerman drove his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to a fourth-place finish. Regan Smith was third, and Austin Dillon came in fifth ahead of Kyle Larson.

Through changes in cars and crew chiefs, Busch has won six times at Fontana. He’s the Nationwide Series career victory leader with 54.

“Sam put up a heck of a fight,” Busch said. “Those guys really have something going for them. Sam has brought his game so far this year. We had a lot of good battle back and forth. I thought we put on a great show for the fans.”

INDYCAR SERIES: The same driver will lead the field to the green flag through the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., for the fourth consecutive year.

Only Will Power will have some new faces right behind him today in the season-opening IndyCar race, with Takuma Sato and Simona de Silvestro qualifying second and third.

Tristan Vautier, who will make his IndyCar debut, will start sixth.

A new cast of characters didn’t surprise Power.

“It’s always like that in IndyCar, you can never predict what’s going to happen,” Power said.

“We don’t know who is going to win, but that is the excitement of it. We’ve never had so much depth in the field of drivers. There are no bad drivers. You go through the field and you have 20 guys there, all of these guys can win.

“Given the right equipment and day, they can win races. I don’t think enough people know about it, you know, how many good drivers there are in this series.”

But it was Power at the top of the leaderboard, earning his fourth consecutive pole at St. Pete by posting a best lap Saturday of 1 minute, 1.2070 seconds on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit.

• The new head of Hulman & Co. has at least two different possible routes to take in rebuilding the IndyCar Series.

Option one for Mark Miles is hiring a new CEO to replace Randy Bernard.

A second scenario could lead to streamlined operations for IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Miles in charge and strong leaders running the day-to-day operations.

Which way Miles goes likely depends on how ongoing talks develop with Zak Brown, founder of Indianapolis-based motorsports marketing company Just Marketing Inc.

“He’s interested in doing something with us, and in his case, I think his only interest would be if we put the pieces together and he was the head of racing,” Miles told The Associated Press on Saturday.