KYLE BUSCH BECOMES FIRST DRIVER TO WIN 10 RACES IN ONE DIVISION AT PIR
Another NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, another win for Kyle Busch. The driver of the No. 18 NOS Energy Toyota dominated yet again in Saturday's Ticket Galaxy 200 for his 10th win at PIR, a track record for a single series. Busch led 190 of 200 laps, the fourth-consecutive XFINITY race at Phoenix where he has led at least 175 of the 200 laps. But even though he lost the lead on the final restart to Justin Allgaier, Busch wasn't worried about the outcome.
"Our car was awesome tonight," said Busch, the career leader in laps led at PIR with 2,904. "I can’t say enough about (crew chief) Chris Gayle and all of these guys – everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. They continue to impress. They’ve done a great job. We’ve got two cars going next week for the championship with Daniel Suárez and Erik Jones. As far as our race goes (tonight), it was kind of uneventful. Justin Allgaier got a really good restart on me. He got to my outside there, and I didn’t want to push the issue there and get loose under him. I didn’t want to do anything stupid there, so I kind of let him go. I just tried to regroup and reattack. He closed the door on me a little bit too soon in Turn 1 there. It was a great race for us."
The win was Busch's 13th overall win at PIR, tying Kevin Harvick for second place on the track's all time win list. Only versatile racing legend Ken Schrader, who has 16 career wins at the legendary one-mile Arizona oval, has had more success.
While Busch had the top spot well in hand, the was tremendous competition behind as the eight drivers in contention fought for the final four spots in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase. The four drivers that will compete for the XFINITY Series championship next week are No. 7 Justin Allgaier, who finished fourth, No. 19 Daniel Suárez, who finished fifth, No. 20 Erik Jones, who finished 10th, and No. 1 Elliott Sadler, who finished 13th. No. 16 Ryan Reed and No. 11 Blake Koch both finished in the top 10, but it was not enough for them to advance to Homestead.
"It was good, it was a fun day for sure to run in the top-five," said Suárez, who won the Lucas Oil 150 Friday night. "I think we have had top-fives in the last couple months since the Chase started. That’s something that’s definitely very good because consistency is super good."
Sadler, the driver of the No. 1 OneMain Chevrolet, had two unsecure lug nuts at the end of the race, and as a result, his crew chief, Kevin Meendering, will be suspended for the final race.
The Championship 4 were decided at the finish, but some drivers knew their fate before that. Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 South Point Chevrolet, lost any shot at the championship when he hit the wall on lap 139, and a wreck involving Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No. 6 Leidos Ford, brought out the red flag on lap 148. Both drivers were essentially in a must-win situation this weekend.
"My team gave me a great race car, the best race car we've had all year long, and we were making the most of it," said Wallace Jr. "That was one of my best restarts right there, and it was taken away from us. But the biggest picture is I hope Granny had fun, because I sure in the hell did." The 23-year-old driver lost his grandmother this week, and rode with her name above the driver-side window.
There were six total cautions for 39 laps, most being single-car wrecks.
Busch returns to the track tomorrow for the Can-Am 500 at 12:30 p.m. as he looks to advance to the Championship 4 in search of his second-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.