AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Another Nationwide Series race, another Kyle Busch win.
Busch picked up his 12th win of the season Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, leading a race-high 169 laps. Now, a year after he went winless in the Nationwide Series, Busch can match his career best 13-win 2010 season with a victory in next week’s finale at Homestead.
“Just looking forward to the rest of this year; there’s only one more left,” said Busch, who has a record 63 victories in the series. “We look forward to going to Homestead, that’s a place we’ve run well in the past in the Nationwide cars. This year we need to lead the most laps and win the race to have a shot at winning the owners’ championship.”
Busch’s victory, coupled with Brad Keselowski’s 19th-place finish, sliced Penske Racing’s lead in the race for the owner championship to four points over Joe Gibbs Racing. Keselowski’s day was ruined when contact from Brian Scott sent him spinning into the wall.
“Just disappointed for Roger Penske,” said Keselowski, who will turn the car over to Joey Logano at Homestead. “Some things you can control, some things you can’t. That was just a situation with no control.”
Busch took no joy in Keselowski’s trouble.
“I hate it that he had trouble when both of us are racing well and racing potentially for a win together,” Busch said.
The battle for the more prolific driver championship stayed close, too, as Austin Dillon finished third to maintain his points lead over Sam Hornish Jr. Dillon takes an eight-point lead over Hornish into the finale, but it could have been more if he had not been caught for second place by Justin Allgaier on the final lap.
Dillon wasn’t pleased with Allgaier and leaned inside his window for a chat after the race.
“They are going to race hard, it’s just in the nature of race car drivers,” Dillon said. “I can’t get too upset. It’s just we’re running for a championship.”
Hornish was satisfied with his finish considering how hard his Penske crew worked to make his ill-handing car manageable to drive.
“It wasn’t a fifth-place car, so to be able to get a fifth-place out of it was really good,” Hornish said. “Eight points is a little bit more than I would like to have to overcome, but from the time that the race started today until lap 200, it’s better than I thought it was going to be, so I’m real happy with the determination that everybody put up.”