NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Busch diminates at Phoenix
Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag in the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 12, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Kyle Busch put on another NASCAR Xfinity Series dominant performance Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, leading 190 lap of the 200-lap Ticket Galaxy 200 en route to his 10th series win of the season and his 10th-career Xfinity win at PIR.
“That’s what we set out to do tonight, and we’ve been really fast here at Phoenix,” Busch said. “We’ve had some great race cars and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all these guys do such a great job each and every week preparing these things, and it’s fun to win here. We appreciate Xfinity and everything that they do for the NASCAR Series, here, and all the fans and all their support, but this NOS Energy Drink Camry was awesome tonight. I mean, I just can’t say enough. We adjusted on it on some pit stops and tried to make it a little bit better, there, but this Toyota Camry was really, really fast, so we didn’t have to do much to it and great Joe Gibbs Racing power under the hood.”
Erik Jones, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier combined to lead the other 10 laps.
The top-three positions in the finishing order were taken by Sprint Cup Series regulars, with Austin Dillon finishing second and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. taken third in a rare Xfinity Series start.
“We had a really fast Rheem Chevrolet,” Dillon said. “We decided to take four tires, trying to get off strategy. We just didn’t fire off good enough to run down the No. 18 car (Busch), but a late caution would have put us in an interesting position. We were a little too tight to really gain speed, but I could make up some ground in turns three and four. The guys did a great job giving us a fast car tonight, and the pit crew was on it.”
Xfinity Series chase drivers Allgaier and Daniel Suarez finished fourth and fifth and claimed to of the championship four positions heading into the Nov. 19 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think we have had top-fives since the last couple months, since the chase has started, so that’s something, definitely, very good,” Suarez said. “Hopefully, we can do even better for next week in Homestead, the most important race of the year.”
Other advancing chase drivers were Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate, Elliott Sadler, and Suarez’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Jones. Jones finished 10th, somewhat overcoming a pit miscue, and Sadler was 13th.
Sadler will be without crew chief Kevin Meendering for the Homestead season finale, as his car was found to have only 18 of the required 20 lug nuts properly secured after the Phoenix race. The No. 2 car was in violation of the same lug nut rule the previous race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. With the PIR offense being the team’s second, Meendering has been suspended for the Homestead-Miami race.
Drivers eliminated from the chase after the Phoenix race include Brendan Gaughan, Darrell Wallace Jr., Blake Koch and Ryan Reed. Both Gaughan and Wallace wrecked in the second half of the race. Gaughan made hard contact with the retaining wall on lap 138. Wallace received contact from Koch on lap 149 that resulted in a multi-car wreck. As a result of their wrecks, both Gaughan and Wallace retired from the race early.
“Just circumstances took us out,” Wallace said. “It is just unfortunate. My team gave me a great race car, the best Leidos Mustang we have had all year long, and we were making the most of it. That was one of my best restarts all year. It was just taken away from us.”
Reed finished in the sixth position, but that wasn’t good enough to overcome the points deficit with which he entered the race. Koch also finished in the top-10, in eighth, but still failed to advance.
Other top-10 race finishers included Ty Dillon in seventh and Brad Keselowski ninth.