Kyle Busch snaps Nationwide winless drought at Phoenix
Avondale, AZ (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch ended an 18-month winless streak in the Nationwide Series by taking Saturday's Dollar General 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch started on the pole and led the first 40 laps before he overshot his pit stall and then received a pit-road speeding penalty during the first round of stops. His mishap dropped him to 23rd for the restart. But Busch came storming back and reclaimed the top spot on lap 89, as he dominated from there.
The race victory was the record-extending 52nd career for Busch in NASCAR's second-tier series, but it was the first one in the last 24 starts for him, dating back to Sept. 9, 2011 at Richmond. He did not score a victory while driving for his own Nationwide team last year. During the offseason, Busch agreed to drive the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in most of the 33- scheduled races in the series this season. In last week's season-opener at Daytona, he suffered engine failure at the halfway point and ended up finishing 32nd.
Most of Busch's Nationwide wins have come with JGR.
"It feels awesome," said Busch, who led 142 of 200 laps for his track record- breaking fifth Nationwide win at Phoenix. "I wish everything in the world that we could've got it done with all my guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports. I can't say enough about Joe Gibbs Racing and all of the guys on this team. They do a phenomenal job, and it all pays off. We've seen it in the Nationwide Series for years."
Busch will start fourth in Sunday's 312-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix. His lone Cup win here came during his 2005 rookie season.
"It's always fun to come out here and win in the Nationwide Series and get us warmed up a little bit for tomorrow," he added.
Brad Keselowski finished second after leading laps late in the race. Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, did not pit during a round of stops under caution late in the race. He ran in front for 10 laps before Busch passed him and took the top spot for good.
"I knew I had a shot if something happened to Kyle, but you've got to put yourself in a position for good things to happen to you," Keselowski said. "Kyle's car was so fast that I could have probably had four tires and he could have had none, and it wouldn't have mattered. He would have still driven through the field."
Justin Allgaier was the highest finishing Nationwide regular with a third- place run. Trevor Bayne took the fourth spot, and Elliott Sadler, who won this race one year ago, was fifth.
Austin Dillon finished sixth, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Matt Kenseth and Aric Almirola, who substituted for the injured Michael Annett in Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 car. Brian Scott completed the top-10.
Hornish bounced back from two separate accidents for his top-10 run. He spun around during a six-car incident on just the fourth lap. The wreck occurred when he and Johanna Long made contact. Hornish also encountered a spin coming out of turn 2 on lap 111.
Jimmie Johnson, who won the Daytona 500 last Sunday, finished 12th, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson made his first Nationwide start since finishing second at Watkins Glen N.Y. in August 2011.
After the second race this season, Hornish and Allgaier are tied in points, while Scott trails them by six markers. The series will compete next Saturday at Las Vegas.
03/02 21:06:37 ET