Desert domination: Kyle Busch wins third XFINITY race in a row
There is such a thing as being on a roll -- and then there is such a thing as being on a Kyle Busch kind of roll.
Busch led 175 of 200 laps Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway to capture his third XFINITY Series race in a row, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing for the second weekend in a row.
Erik Jones finished second, while fellow JGR driver Daniel Suarez was third.
However, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by second-place finisher Erik Jones, failed post-race inspection because of a rear toe issue.
"I don't know, I just have a knack for this place, I guess," said Busch of the 1-mile PIR track where he will start from the pole in Sunday's Sprint Cup race. "We've been a little off on the Cup side here, although this year we seem to be a lot better and last year we improved a lot. But the XFINITY program, we've always been good."
Busch won the previous two XFINITY races at Atlanta and Las Vegas, respectively, making him 3-for-3 this season in the series since he did not run in the season opener at Daytona. Watkins Glen International now is the only active NASCAR racetrack where Busch has not won an XFINITY Series race.
Busch has led 374 of the last 400 laps run in the series over the last two races.
About the only time Busch appeared to be challenged at Phoenix came when he fell to sixth following a pit stop at about the halfway mark of the race. But on the ensuing restart on Lap 102, he completed a bold crossover move to go from sixth to third -- and then went to work on the only two cars left in front of him, those of Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.
By Lap 108, he had passed Allgaier for second. By Lap 112, he had passed Dillon to take a lead that he held until Brad Keselowski inherited briefly during the cycle of final green-flag pit stops.
But even then, with both Busch and Jones taking on only right-side tires, Busch was not out of the lead for long. He took it back when Keselowski pitted with 13 to go and held it the rest of the way, easily beating Jones to the checkered flag by nearly 2.3 seconds.
The only other drivers besides Busch to lead laps on the day were Dillon (11), Keselowski (nine) and Jones (five). Dillon finished sixth and Keselowski finished ninth.
Rounding out the top five after the three JGR drivers were Allgaier in fourth and Chase Elliott in fifth.
It was the third top-five finish in a row for series regular Jones. Busch, the defending Sprint Cup champion who is not running for the XFINITY title, said he was pushed to the limits by Jones and Suarez, who started the race 1-2 after qualifying.
"We didn't sit on the pole, but our teammates did," Busch said. "They were obviously really fast and they made me run hard all day long. I mea, there was nothing left in this car. It's all used up. Instead of haivng to go back to the shop and freshen her up a little bit, they're going to have to rebuild it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.