Kyle Busch splashes his way to Nationwide win at PIR
Kyle Busch once again showed the NASCAR Nationwide Series field why he’s the all-time leader in race victories.
Busch easily drubbed the field to win Saturday’s rain-shortened Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading all but 13 laps in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to score his seventh series victory here and 64th overall in his career. The race was halted after 168 laps because of persistent rains.
"This car is awesome, obviously," said Busch, who now has 128 victories in NASCAR’s top three series. "I think we’ve shown that here time and time again, and again today, which is nice. … We’re on a roll, I guess I’d like to say."
Kevin Harvick finished second in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet, followed by Brad Keselowski’s Penske Racing Ford. Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth completed the top five.
Keselowski started from the pole, flanked by Brian Scott’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Keselowski led at the start, with Busch moving his JGR Toyota to second on the opening lap.
By Lap 6, Busch was into the lead going under Keselowski in Turn 2, with teammate Kenseth up to second one lap later.
Keselowski brought out the first caution on Lap 22, turning Daryl Harr and in the process damaging the nose of his own Ford. Repairs on his car dropped him from fourth to 27th. "I didn’t do myself any favors with the damage to the car," said Keselowski. "But that’s part of racing."
With rain expected, drivers picked it up in the early stages, dicing furiously in mid-pack as they attempted to get to the halfway point.
By Lap 40, Keselowski was back up to 12th, while Busch led Kenseth by 0.796 seconds.
Busch led by more than 5 seconds at Lap 80, when green-flag stops began for the field. Busch came in on Lap 88, one of the last cars to pit, taking four tires in 14 seconds.
That stop put Keselowski back in the lead, and three laps later, Derrike Cope lost a right-front tire and hit the wall while running 29th, bringing out a caution.
By this point, there were only eight cars on the lead lap, with Keselowski surrendering the point by pitting.
After the pit stops, Harvick took over the lead ahead of Busch, Kenseth, Keselowski and Chase Elliott. Busch took the lead back as soon as the green came out, and led at the halfway point of the race.
At Lap 110, Busch led Harvick by 1.854 seconds.
Jamie Dick lost an engine on Lap 134 to bring out a yellow and send the field down pit road. Under caution, Busch won the race off pit road to maintain the top spot. Keselowski challenged him hard on the restart, but Busch held the point and quickly pulled away, leading by 1.474 seconds at Lap 150.
"Brad can always hang in there for a few (laps), but our car is so strong it’ll get going. And once it gets going and the momentum gets build up, you can kind of see the gap widen."
On Lap 160, Harvick went under Keselowski to take over second place.
Seven laps later, the caution came out after Ryan Reed crashed, erasing a 3.071-second lead for Busch. At the same time, the skies opened, heavy rain coming down. After a lengthy delay, the race was officially called.