Busch wins third straight Nationwide race at Phoenix|
Avondale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Kyle Busch became the first driver to win
three consecutive Nationwide Series races at Phoenix International Raceway,
even though Saturday's scheduled 200-lap event was cut short by 32 laps due to
Busch, who drives the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, put on another
dominating performance at Phoenix, leading 155 of 168 laps. He had a five-
second advantage when the fourth caution came on lap 165. Ryan Reed spun out
and made contact with the wall. At the time of Reed's incident, rain began
falling on this one-mile oval.
NASCAR displayed the red flag after 168 laps were completed, as the field came
to a stop on pit road. When the rain tapered off, NASCAR's new track-drying
system, the Air Titan, began its task. Track drying was nearly completed
before heavy rain fell on the track again. The race was called after a near
The weather forecast for the Phoenix area called for a 100 percent chance of
rain throughout the day on Saturday. However, final practice for the Sprint
Cup Series and qualifying for Nationwide were held at their scheduled times
earlier in the day. It had rained here during the early morning hours.
Busch earned his record-extending 64th career win in Nationwide, including his
seventh at Phoenix, which is more than any other driver. He also gave Joe
Gibbs Racing its fourth Nationwide victory in a row at this track.
"We've been very dominant here in the past years, and we led a lot of laps
today," Busch said. "I felt like we could have won it whether it was rain-
shortened or we went the whole distance. We had a great race car. It was a
great race for us. We battled hard with a couple of guys. All in all, it was
meant to be. We just had to put ourselves in the right position."
Last year, Busch led 142 of 200 laps in the spring race and then a total of
169 laps in the fall event at Phoenix. Both of his wins here came from the
pole position. He started third in Saturday's race.
Jimmie Johnson won three consecutive Sprint Cup races at Phoenix from 2007-08,
and Jack Sprague scored three straight victories in the Truck Series here from
1996-97. No driver from any one of NASCAR's three national series has four
race wins in a row at this track.
Kevin Harvick, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in this race,
finished second. Brad Keselowski, the pole sitter, took the third spot. Kyle
Larson and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.
The first five in the finishing order were all Sprint Cup Series regulars. The
312-lap (500-kilometer) Sprint Cup race at Phoenix is scheduled for Sunday.
Keselowski is starting on the pole for that race. Busch will roll off from
Keselowski rebounded from an incident he had with Daryl Harr on lap 21. He
bumped into the back of Harr and put him into the wall in turn 1. Keselowski
sustained minor damage to the front end of his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. His
team made minor repairs on pit road during the caution. He dropped to 27th in
the field but quickly drove back into the top-five and stayed there for good.
Harr's No. 87 Chevrolet suffered major damage, which put him out of the race
early. He finished 36th in the 39-car field.
"I got underneath [Harr], and I don't think he saw me there," Keselowski said.
"I was trying to show him my nose...I couldn't slow down enough to avoid
hitting him from behind and causing that wreck. I feel bad for [Harr's team].
I know those guys are trying their best to make it in this series. It was
Elliott Sadler finished sixth, followed by Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith, who
won last weekend's Nationwide season-opener at Daytona. Rookies Chase Elliott
and Ty Dillon completed the top-10.
03/01 20:58:56 ET