Busch wins at Phoenix, Dillon takes 8-point lead over Hornish
Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Busch won a Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway for a record-extending sixth time with a dominating performance in Saturday's ServiceMaster 200.
While Busch claimed his 12th Nationwide victory this season, Austin Dillon finished third and increased his lead in the championship standings from six points to eight over Sam Hornish Jr., who placed fifth. The season concludes next Saturday at Homestead.
"It's a tough championship battle, and hopefully we can win this thing," Dillon said.
Busch started on the pole and led 169 of 200 laps. This 200-mile race featured only one caution in the first 105 laps and then featured a rash of cautions from there.
Justin Allgaier held the lead during the sixth caution, but after the restart on lap 154, Busch passed Allgaier for the top spot and then kept it for the remainder of the race.
"All in all, it was a great day," Busch said. "Just a really, really fast race car. It was a dominant performance by these guys (No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team). They do a good job for me, and it makes my job a little bit easier."
Busch scored a Nationwide season-sweep at Phoenix. In March, he started on the pole and led 142 of 200 laps here to end an 18-month winless steak in the series. Busch will try to match his series record of 13 wins in a season at Homestead. He had that many victories in 2010.
Busch's win allowed his No. 54 team to move within four points of Penske Racing's No. 22 team in their battle for the owner's championship in the series. Brad Keselowski, the winner of last weekend's race at Texas, drove the No. 22 car in this event. Keselowski finished one lap behind in 19th after being involved in an accident on lap 142. Brian Scott got loose and bumped into Keselowski, causing him to spin around and crash into the wall.
"Some things you can control and some things you can't, and that was a situation that we couldn't control," Keselowski said. "It just wasn't meant to be."
Joey Logano is scheduled to drive that car at Homestead.
Busch's team fell 26 points behind the No. 22 after Busch finished 26th at Texas. He blew a tire and made contact with the wall. His team did not make a tire change during a round of pit stops prior to his accident.
"Last week, we had bad luck, and it wasn't any of our doing," Busch said. "Just stayed out and got too loose on the long run. It wore the right-rear tire out and spun into the fence. My guys turned the car around and got me back out there and tried to salvage as best as we could. Brad did that as well today. You go into next week and push hard."
Dillon was running second to Busch until Allgaier passed him on the final lap. The two had a hard-fought battle for the position before Allgaier overtook Dillon.
After the race concluded, Dillon approached Allgaier while he was still in his car on pit road to discuss their on-track actions.
"Austin and I were racing really hard," Allgaier said. "I'm trying to stay in the top-five in points too. It was definitely a good points day for us. I had a lot of fun racing with Austin. We had quite a few times that we were racing each other."
Dillon has yet to win a Nationwide race this season.
"We kept up with track position all day and had a good car," he said. "Just not good enough to run with Kyle."
Hornish, who scored his first career victory in the series two years ago at Phoenix, dealt with a loose car for most of the race.
"It was tough, and we were up and down a lot today," Hornish said. "The (car) was not as good as we wanted it to be."
Hornish is not too concerned about his eight-point deficit. One of his three IndyCar Series championships ended up in a points tiebreaker with Dan Wheldon. He had more race wins than Wheldon during the 2006 season to capture the title. Hornish has one victory in Nationwide this year -- Las Vegas.
"While eight points is a lot more than what we want, it is manageable," Hornish said. "We're going to have a shot at it."
11/09 20:57:39 ET