"I don't think that I faked him out," said Stewart about Hamlin's move to pit road."I'm sure he had made his decision already. Looked good, though!"
Hamlin said he hadn't been psyched out and that it was entirely his own game plan he was following: "We were planning on the race going back to green, and if it doesn't, we'll lose some spots, but if we chose to stay out there, we would have to be behind all the cars that pitted [if there was a restart]," explained Hamlin. "[In that case], your chance of winning decreases greatly.
Johnson's dive to pit road was more of an emergency situation: his engine was leaking fluid and wasn't going to last much longer. Of all the drivers still circulating out on the rapidly-deteriorating track, Johnson was the most relieved when NASCAR's hand was forced and the red flag came out: the way that the oil collected under the #48 as it sat in pit road during rhe ensuing stoppage was proof that there was no way it was going back out on track if the race restarted.
Half an hour later, they called the race; Stewart had won and Busch had second and Johnson survived to keep tenth place while Hamlin ended up 11th.
Busch wasn't too frustrated at the early end to the day that deprived him of the chance to try and come back at Stewart in the closing laps. "I wish we would have been able to race the whole thing, on the one hand," he said. "But on the other hand, I'm kind of glad we're not, because we have a little bit of damage that slowed us down there.
Kyle's brother Kurt lucked into tenth spot just ahead of those who had opted to pit by deciding to staying out. It gave him his first time in the top ten since his move from Penske to Phoenix Racing over the winter.
Johnson had better luck than his Hendrick Motorsport team mate Jeff Gordon, who finished down in 26th place after falling off the lead lap serving a stop-go penalty for dragging his refueler out of the pit box during his pit stop on lap 108. Matt Kenseth also took a penalty for having a tyre run out of his pit box during his stop under yellow.
All in all, though, everyone was just happy to get this one in the record books and to get out of Fontana on time, able to cross the country and prepare for next weekend's events at Martinsville.
Full race times and positions