Just like last fall's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota, put on a dominating performance Saturday. Unlike last year, Busch got to go to Victory Lane this year.
The Las Vegas driver led all but 10 laps in Saturday's DAV 200 Honoring America's Veterans en route to his eighth victory in the XFINITY Series at PIR, the most of any driver in any professional series in track history. His victories have usually come in dominant fashion. He has scored four wins in his last five series starts here, leading 155, 169, 142 laps, respectively, to go along with today’s 190. Last November, he led 187 laps only to get passed by Brad Keselowski on a late-race restart and finished second. This year, there was no late caution period, no restart and no chance for Keselowski to steal a win.
“I told you this Monster Energy Camry was really good," Busch said. "It was really good here last year, too, you know. I just messed up and somehow gave it away [last year]. I’m proud of the effort of all of these guys. They do a fabulous job for me. I’m real proud of the Joe Gibbs Racing Camry I drove today. Toyota did an awesome job, too, with JGR engines and the Monster Energy. The fans, XFINITY, I appreciate it all. You can’t ever take any of these wins for granted. We have fun and enjoy what we’re doing right now. It helps us a little bit for tomorrow. I feel like I learned a few things, so I’m looking forward to using that."
Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, finished second and led seven laps. The only other driver to lead laps was Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Ford, who led three laps after taking two tires on a mid-race pit stop. Sadler finished ninth.
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, finished seventh and cut his points deficit to Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 60 AdvoCare Ford, to 18 points with one race to go.
"Eighteen [points] is really not that much," said Elliott. "That’s one mistake left or right, up or down, that’s getting into the gas too soon and slapping the wall with the right rear and having an issue; just so many things can happen. I could sit here and name an aimless amount. There’s a lot of things that could happen. We need to have a solid week and hope for the best."
Third in the points is Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 3 WESCO Chevrolet, who is 22 points behind Buescher.
"In the grand scheme of things, it was a decent day," said Buescher, who finished 13th. "We’re going to Homestead, that’s comfortable. I’d say I can finally use the word. We can go there and race, and just stay out of trouble, and we should be in good shape. We were really fast last year so I’m looking forward to getting into that one, knowing that this was going to be the tough race for us."
Rounding out the top five were third place Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota, fourth place Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 18 ARRIS Toyota, and fifth place Ty Dillon.
There were three cautions, all for single-car incidents. At lap 18, Ruben Pardo, driver of the No. 13 Crafoid/Braille Battery Toyota, hit the wall near Turn 2. Dylan Kwasniewski, driver of the No. 97 MagicCreeper.com/Vroom Brands Chevrolet, had a similar accident on lap 60 when his right front tire blew. The last caution of the race came at lap 114 for an accident involving Jeremy Clements, driver of the No. 51 All South Electric/Repairable Vehicles Chevrolet.