Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sports

Kyle Busch takes Nationwide win at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Busch didn't mind the rain that ended the race early.

He would have been fine with continuing, though. His car was that good.

Busch became the first driver to win three straight NASCAR Nationwide series races at Phoenix International Raceway, dominating his way through a rain-shortened race Saturday.

"We've been very dominant here in the past and led a lot of laps today," Busch said. "I felt like we could have won it if it was rain-shortened or whether we went the whole distance."

Busch took an early lead in the Blue Jeans Go Green 200 and was out front when the race was halted with 32 laps left in the 200-mile race on the odd-shaped mile oval. After a delay of more than two hours, the race was called, extending Busch series record 64th victory.

Busch led 155 of 168 laps for his 10th victory at PIR — seven in Nationwide — and fourth straight Nationwide win for Joe Gibbs Racing at the track. It also was the fourth straight win there for Busch's crew chief Adam Stevens, who was at the helm when Joey Logano won for JGR in fall 2012.

Kevin Harvick finished second and pole-sitter Brad Keselowski was third, followed by fellow Sprint Cup regulars Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth. Elliott Sadler was the top regular in NASCAR's second-tier series, finishing sixth.

"Kyle had the best car today; we probably finished where we should have," Harvick said. "You never know and you always want to finish it out, but all in all it was a good start."

Busch swept both Nationwide races at Phoenix in 2013, overcoming a pit-road speeding penalty to end a 24-race winless streak in the series in the spring and leading 169 laps in the fall.

Saturday, he took the lead on Lap 6 after starting third. Busch led 83 laps after that, then retook the top spot on a restart after a pit stop midway through.

"Another dominant day at Phoenix," Busch said. "Those days don't come around that often, so you try to enjoy them when you can."

PIR dodged the heavy downpours that spread across the Phoenix area for most of the day, but rain sent fans scrambling and halted the race.

"I just had my hands full, for whatever reason, and felt kind of relieved to get it over with here," said Keselowski, who starts on the pole for today's Sprint Cup race. "Third was probably the best I have done, I was holding on pretty good there."

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