Kyle Busch overcomes gaffe in pits, dominates for Nationwide win at Phoenix
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kyle Busch overcame a mid-race gaffe on pit road with a dominating performance, leading 142 laps to win his fifth Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday.
Busch started from the pole and shook off a speeding penalty to pit road with what was easily the fastest car during the 200-lap race around PIR's mile oval.
He eclipsed 11,000 career laps during the race and picked up his 52nd Nationwide victory, extending his own record. Busch has won seven times at Phoenix, including once in Sprint Cup and twice in the trucks series.
Brad Keselowski finished second and Justin Allgaier was third. Trevor Bayne finished fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler.
The Nationwide Series got off to an awful start at Daytona last week, when Tony Stewart's season-opening win was marred by a 12-car crash on the final lap that left at least two dozen fans injured.
The wreck happened as the cars came around for the checkered flag and leader Regan Smith tried to block Keselowski. That triggered a chain reaction that piled up cars and sent rookie Kyle Larson's car airborne into the fence, shearing it into pieces that flew into the grandstand.
Two injured fans remain in the hospital.
The Phoenix race had a crash involving six cars on the fourth lap and 38 laps were under caution during the race, but no one was injured.
Busch led the first 40 laps, but was sent to the back of the pack — to 23rd — for entering pit road too fast during a caution. He also overshot his pit stall, thinking it was the last one instead of the one before, but didn't seem bothered once he got back on the track.
"Oh, well, let's make a race of it," he said through the radio. "Let's go get it."
He did, ripping through the field, up to fifth within a few of laps off the restart, past Matt Kenseth for the lead not long after that.
Busch finished 32nd in Daytona due to engine trouble after leading 22 laps, but had no problems down the stretch in the desert.
He dropped to fifth with about 50 laps left when he went into the pits, but was quickly back out front. He wasn't challenged again, finishing nearly 2 seconds ahead of Keselowski at the checkered flag before filling the grandstands with white smoke as he spun doughnuts around the start/finish line.
Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who won his second Daytona 500 last week, finished 12th in his first Nationwide race since 2011.