BUSCH LEADS EVERY LAP IN BASHAS’ 200
Busch trails Mark Martin by four with 44 win in NASCAR Nationwide Series
For most of the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, Kyle Busch’s Interstate Batteries Toyota was a rocket taking off into the sunset. Busch led every lap from the pole, building as large as a 3.6-second lead over second place finisher Carl Edwards.
But, over the closing 20 laps, according to Busch, Edwards “really made me sweat out there.” Taking advantage of Busch’s loose-handling race car, Edwards nosed his No. 60 Ford under the No. 18 Toyota on several occasions. But, Busch was faster in turns one and two – and ever since PIR opened in 1964 a good line off turn two has been the key to racing fast on the track configuration that will change after Sunday’s SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. So, Busch was able to hold off his toughest competitor on every circuit at PIR on Saturday and won by slightly more than a half-second.
Busch’s victory gave him 44 wins in his relatively-short Nationwide Series career, only four fewer than Mark Martin’s all-time record. His leading every lap marked the first time any NASCAR national touring series event has produced a single leader since Dale Earnhardt, Jr., turned the trick in winning the July 2003 Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch was excellent on restarts, taking advantage of the inside lane and pulling away on laps 58, 113, and 170, when the green flag waved after caution periods. But, it was after the last restart when Edwards came back to pressure Busch. Edwards looked under Busch on lap 180 and battled side-by-side on the front-stretch over the next five circuits until Busch began to pull away over the closing 16 laps.
Afterward, Edwards said, “I did everything but move him out of the way, and I thought about that. He had a loose race car and did a good job of hanging on to it. He could work me over pretty good in (turns) one and two.”
From victory lane, Busch thanked Edwards for “racing me clean” but lamented that he directed his crew to make chassis changes that hurt his ability to cling perfectly to the bottom of the track.
Although they never were serious factors in today’s race, Kevin Harvick finished third, Ryan Newman, fourth, and Reed Sorenson fifth.
Tickets remain available for tomorrow’s Cup event, and the two young NASCAR stars will likely do battle again at the front of the field. Edwards will start from the pole in his SUBWAY Ford, while Busch will start fourth, right behind his older brother Kurt, who will take the green flag from outside-pole in his Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.
Tickets to the exciting Feb. 24-27 SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ NASCAR event weekend are still available with prices starting at just $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.PhoenixRaceway.com/tickets or call 866-408-RACE (7223).
Related PIR News
Kevin Harvick did something Sunday that no driver had ever done in the 52-year history of Phoenix International Raceway. The 39-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif. scored a victory in his fourth consecutive race in the same professional series at the legendary one-mile oval in the Arizona desert, leading 224 of 312 laps to win the CampingWorld.com 500.
Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano put on a dominating display at Phoenix International Raceway in Saturday’s AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200, the fourth race of 2015 in the NASCAR XFINITY series.
Ruben Pardo earned his first NASCAR Mexico Series win at Phoenix International Raceway in the Toyota 120 on Friday. After starting on the pole, Pardo fell as low as 12th but fought back to the front in the late stages.
Pop music sensation Tori Kelly will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15, highlighting the pre-race festivities. Kelly’s performance will be included in the live national television broadcast of the race on FOX at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. Eastern).
Phoenix International Raceway is encouraging fans to prepare for race day traffic by arriving early and enjoying the full NASCAR experience during the CampingWorld.com 500 event weekend, March 13-15. In addition to the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. PST, the race weekend at PIR will include the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. PST and the Toyota 120 NASCAR Mexico Series race on Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m. PST.