Busch overcomes wild sequence to win at Phoenix
Kyle Busch lost his lead on a disputed restart that led to a red
flag. There was the penalty on the ensuing restart that put him 20
seconds back, and a pit-road collision with his teammate on the
last crucial stop.
Yet, Busch still managed to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series
race at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night.
“All I know is that I paid back NASCAR by winning,” Busch
Busch took advantage of a late caution to edge Kevin Harvick by
1.55 seconds for his 32nd career Nationwide victory and third at
the oddly shaped mile track. But that didn’t erase his ire about
the call that took him out of the lead.
“This is an issue,” Busch said after the race. “It will be a
discussion (with NASCAR). It’s not done yet.”
Busch had already led 121 laps when he lost the lead on a
restart that was immediately followed by an accordion-like pileup
that involved at least 10 cars and brought out a nearly 10-minute
Brad Keselowski, who finished third and took over the series
points lead, was on the inside for that restart on lap 137 of 200.
Busch, then the leader, was on the outside but went through the
restart zone without accelerating. Keselowski charged ahead at the
line when the green flag came out.
“When you get to the first line, you have to maintain your
speed. Once you get to the second line, it’s free game,”
Keselowski said. “I maintained my speed and he did not. When I got
to the second line, I just went. That’s the rule, and the
interpretation I have of it.”
Some cars behind them seemed to take the queue from Keselowski,
some of them speeding up while others checked up to avoid hitting
others. That created a mangled mess of cars near the start-finish
Busch and his team argued vehemently during the red flag and
ensuing caution that he should be installed the leader. Robin
Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition, said Keselowski
Busch insisted he stayed at the same pace and was waiting for
the second line to go, instead of the first line like he had
earlier in the race.
“He jumped the restart,” Busch said. “I did the same thing he
did and I got posted for it.”
When the race finally resumed on lap 145, Busch quickly shot
ahead of Keselowski. Busch avoided a black flag when he gave up the
lead after being notified by NASCAR of a restart violation, but
still had to serve a drive-through penalty. That dropped him to
19th, 20 seconds behind the lead pack.
Joey Logano passed Keselowski for the lead with 21 laps left,
and had built more than a 2-second lead before a yellow flag came
out on lap 189. That four-lap caution bunched up the field and was
the only reason Busch was able to win the race.
“Definitely not without a caution,” Busch said. “Fortunately
there was one.”
Busch was 10th on the final restart with eight laps left, even
after making contact with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Logano on pit
road and saying on the radio that he was having transmission
problems. When the race resumed, Busch charged around the outside
and retook the lead in three laps.
“The bottom line got bottled up and Kyle was able to get around
the outside,” Harvick said. “That was fun. … It was a great
race for the fans.”
Brendan Gaughan finished fourth, followed by Greg Biffle and
Carl Edwards. Logano wound up 10th.