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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch wins at Phoenix

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on November 11, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kyle Busch won his eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2018 on Sunday in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. That tally matches Kevin Harvick for most through 35 races, heading into the Nov. 18 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“It’s an awesome team and awesome group of guys,” Busch said. “Can’t say enough about everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. All the men and women there that work so hard to prepare such great race cars that I get to drive. M&Ms and Toyota – and it’s Veteran’s Day. I want to say thank you to all the veterans out there for everything that you all have sacrificed for us and done for our freedom in this country. Cool to race on Veteran’s Day. This is a sport that everybody loves to come out and participate in and be a part of, whether it’s the military, whether it’s the fans that support the military; it’s awesome to have all that here in NASCAR.”

Busch joined Joey Logano as drivers advancing to the one-race championship round after winning a race in the three-race round of eight. Kevin Harvick won at Texas Motor Speedway a week ago but was stripped of the playoff benefits of the win because of an illegal spoiler. Harvick advanced on points, though, with a fifth-place finish Sunday. After a 14th-place finish, Martin Truex Jr. also advanced on points.

“We’re happy about going to Miami, and I think as you run, you just want to make it lap by lap,” Harvick said.

Eliminated from the playoffs at ISM Raceway were Chase Elliott and Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch. Almirola finished fourth Sunday, but Elliott, Bowyer and Busch all were involved in on-track incidents.

Bowyer retired from the race after hitting the wall on lap 133. Busch and Elliott were involved in a multi-car wreck on a lap-269 restart. Busch retired from the race, while Elliott finished 23rd.

“Erik Jones was on my inside when we restarted, and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t slip through the new one and two,” Busch said. “If I could have been to somebody’s outside off two, then I thought we had a good shot of maintaining the lead, and I just got cleaned out. I flat out got cleaned out. I thought it was the right decision on staying out. I’m not gonna look back on it.”

Logano also retired from the race early after an on-track incident. He was out of the race by lap 100 after hitting the wall on lap 95.

“The left-rear tire went flat,” Logano said. ”I don’t really know why. It just kind of came out of nowhere. We may have run something over. I don’t know. I went down on the flat a couple laps earlier to make a pass, and I don’t know if it hit a little bit hard; maybe it knocked the fender into it. Who knows what happened there, but she just went out. I tried to save it. I thought I had it saved, but by the time I got it straightened back out, the rest of the tires were flat, because I had them flat-spotted. That’s what it is. We’ll move on. We’re locked into Miami, so it doesn’t really matter, so we’ll keep our heads high.”

The yellow flag waved 10 times over the course of the 312-lap race, with five of those cautions coming in the final 50 laps. The final 50 laps also included two red flags.

Eventual race winner, Kyle Busch, led a race-high 117 laps, but Harvick had the dominant car early. After starting on the pole, Harvick led the first 72 laps of the race before a flat tire sent him to pit road for an unscheduled stop on lap 73.

“I felt it start to go down going into turn one there and just slowed down to the point where I thought I could at least make it back to the pits and not hit the wall,” Harvick said. ”It came at an okay time, because it didn’t tear the car up. It never really drove as well after that, but we kept ourselves in position all day, and there at the end, it was just like with everybody wrecking and all over the place. We just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there.”

Elliott inherited the lead and won the first stage that ended a couple of laps later on lap 75 as Harvick went a lap down. Harvick got back on the lead lap during Logano’s caution.

After running second to Harvick through most of the opening stage, Elliott ran second to another SHR driver, Kurt Busch, early in the second stage. Busch took the lead from Elliott on the restart at the beginning of the second 75-lap stage but went a lap down right after leading because of a penalty for passing the pace car when ducking to pit road during Bowyer’s caution.

“If the rule earlier in the race on the pit road of passing the pace car is black and white, I just need to get brushed up on my rule book,” Kurt Busch said. ”I didn’t gain anything by doing what I did other than just digging from behind all day. It was a really good year for our Haas Automation Ford.  Thanks to Monster Energy and everybody that put their talent into that 41 car. I just didn’t get the job done to get us to Homestead.”

Busch got back on the lead lap during a lap 228 caution.

Kyle Busch took his first lead of the race on lap 144 and took a stage win a few laps later when the second stage ended on lap 150. He lost the lead to Elliott on lap 225 but took what wound up being his race-winning lead simultaneous to the wreck that took Kurt Busch and Elliott out of championship contention.

“We just kept tuning on it and just kept working on it,” Busch said. “These guys, they never give up; they never quit on me, and I never quit on them. We had to keep scrounging and figure out some other things that could help the grip in this race car. It was loose, it was tight, and it was all over the place today. It was a handful; that’s for sure. There at the end, it was just fast enough to hold off that 2 car [Brad Keselowski], and he was charging fast.”

Non-playoff drivers Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson finished second and third in the Can-Am 500. Other top-10 finishers included Jamie McMurray in sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, Austin Dillon eighth, William Byron ninth and Darrell Wallace Jr. in 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order for the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway:

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Posted by on November 12, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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