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
High speeds, strategic pit stop gambles, unexpected mechanical problems and amazing car control came into play Saturday night in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. When the dust settled, it was reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, who scored his first victory at Phoenix International Raceway.
It’s official - Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Chevy for Team Penske, is the new “Speed King” of Phoenix International Raceway.
Phoenix International Raceway will celebrate its rich history of IndyCar competition by saluting many legendary drivers and team owners Saturday, April 2 before the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, the first Verizon IndyCar Series event at the one-mile desert oval since 2005.
Phoenix International Raceway is encouraging fans to prepare for race day traffic by arriving early and enjoying the full racing experience during the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix event weekend, April 1-2. In addition to the Verizon IndyCar Series race on Saturday, April 2 at 6:15 p.m. (local), the race weekend at PIR will also include the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race on Saturday, April 2 at 1:30 p.m., and practice and qualifying for both races on Friday, April 1.
Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber today announced newly-opened Desert Diamond West Valley as the title sponsor for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to the Valley of the Sun this spring. The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix takes place under the lights Saturday evening, April 2, 2016.