FONTANA — He’s still The King.
For at least one more day, anyway.
Kyle Busch’s effort to tie The King, NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, as the only drivers with 200 victories in NASCAR’s national touring series was derailed by Californian Cole Custer Saturday.
Custer took the lead with 18 laps to go and held off Busch by 1.97 seconds to win the Production Alliance Group 300 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Auto Club Speedway.
Busch will try again in the Auto Club 400 at Fontana Sunday.
Busch won the first two stages of the race and was leading with 25 laps to go when he passed Brandon Jones in turn three and gusty crosswinds sent Jones’ No. 19 car into the wall, bringing out the caution.
During pit stops a faulty jack cost Busch 10 positions on the track. Then a loose wheel brought a penalty to re-start at end of the longest line.
“Cole had a really fast car, and we didn’t have the speed to catch him,” Busch said. “We didn’t have the traction we needed there at the end. He did a great job.”
Custer, 21, a Ladera Ranch native, won for the fourth time in the Xfinity Series.
“Kyle Busch is the greatest driver in the history of the Xfinity Series,” said Custer. “To beat him is a huge thrill, Plus, now I can go and drink to celebrate.”
Custer was 16 when he became the youngest driver to win a national touring series race in 2014.
Busch will start fourth, on the inside of row two, on Sunday.
Austin Dillon will lead the field to the green flag. He won the pole without posting a time in the third and final round of qualifying Friday when no one left the pits in time to record a lap.
NASCAR said it will make changes to keep that from ever happening again.
Kevin Harvick of Bakersfield was fastest in Saturday’s final practice, and will start on the outside of row one.
Jimmie Johnson starts 11th, seeking to end a 63-race winless streak dating back to 2017.
The El Cajon native has six wins at Fontana, the most of any driver.
But his luck has been so bad lately, he tweeted out a photo of the scoring pylon when he was the latest in opening practice on Friday.
Johnson will make his first start at Auto Club Speedway without Chad Knaus as his crew chief.
Kevin Meandering directs the No. 48 Ally Bank Chevrolet team now.
Chevrolet is looking for its first win of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.