FONTANA, Calif., Feb. 25 -- Matt Kenseth put the disappointment of Daytona well behind him Sunday, driving away with his second victory of the weekend and second NASCAR Nextel Cup win at California Speedway.
Kenseth, who got caught up in the last-lap melee the previous week at the Daytona 500 and wound up 27th after starting that lap in third, stayed away from trouble Sunday in the Auto Club 500. He got the lead for good with a fast pit stop during a caution period just 23 laps from the finish.
The victory, his 15th in Cup, came with engineer Chip Bolin sitting in for suspended crew chief Robbie Reiser, sent home for four races after the team was caught cheating at the beginning of Daytona's Speedweeks. And it came less than 24 hours after the 2003 Cup champion won the Busch Series races on the same two-mile oval.
"It's a special one," said Kenseth, who broke the transmission on his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford as he spun his tires in a postrace celebration. "It's not without Robbie though. He spent the week at home while we were at Daytona building this car. Robbie built this team."
Kevin Harvick, who swept the Busch and Cup races at Daytona, came out of the final pit stop in second and was making up ground on Kenseth until rookie David Reutimann and former series champion Bobby Labonte crashed on Lap 243 of the 250-lap event.
Three-time California winner Jeff Gordon, the only other multiple Cup race winner here, jumped past Jeff Burton into second on the restart with four laps to go, but couldn't get close enough to challenge Kenseth the rest of the way.
Defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished 39th at Daytona, also bounced back with a third-place finish Sunday, followed by Burton, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.
Gordon said he was just lucky to finish second.
"If Kevin hadn't had that flat tire, we would have probably finished third or fourth," he said. "It's crazy the way things happen. Last week, he wins the Daytona 500 and, this week, he has that flat tire. It's too bad."
Martin, who lost to Harvick at Daytona by the length of a hood, had another good race and put himself and his new team, Ginn Racing -- formerly MB2 Motorsports -- into the series points lead. It's the first time leading the points for the team, now in its 11th year.
The race was the debut for unleaded fuel in NASCAR's premier series. Several entries blew engines, including DEI teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. and Evernham Motorsports's Kasey Kahne, but the teams said they would need to examine the engines closely to determine if the fuel had anything to do with the problems.