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Busch goes wire-to-wire for victory at Phoenix

NASCAR Nationwide race
Saturday, February 26, 2011

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Kyle Busch
Getty Images for NASCAR
Kyle Busch held off a strong challenge from Carl Edwards in the closing laps of Saturday's Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and collected his 44th Nationwide Series victory.

Having won Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race at the 1-mile track, Busch will try for a weekend sweep Sunday in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 Cup Series event.

Busch became the only driver to sweep races in NASCAR's top three series at the same track on the same weekend when he accomplished the feat last August at Bristol.

Edwards, who finished .514 seconds behind Busch, made a contest of the race in the final 20 laps, running side-by-side with Busch for extended stretches as the race neared its end.

Kyle Busch will look to make it 3 for 3 on Sunday
Getty Images for NASCAR
Busch became the first driver to lead every lap of an event in one of NASCAR's top three series since Dale Earnhardt Jr. accomplished the feat July 4, 2003, in a Nationwide race at Daytona.

Danica Patrick finished 17th, three laps down, and posted her third consecutive top-20 result in the series.

As Busch continued his domination in the desert, the fortunes of 2010 series champion Brad Keselowski continued to ebb. On Lap 105, Keselowski blew a right front tire and clobbered the Turn 4 wall to bring out the second caution of the race.

Keselowski, who had finished 102 consecutive Nationwide races before falling out of last week's Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona, suffered his second consecutive DNF.

"All I know is that we blew up a right front tire, and I ended up throwing the car into the Turn 4 wall," Keselowski said.

Goodyear provided a softer right-side tire for all three series this weekend, one designed to enhance grip. The tire was chosen based on tests conducted at Richmond.

"Our team never saw this tire until we got to the track this weekend," Keselowski said. "It's a combination of the new tire and the new [Nationwide] car, and that was the recipe for disaster."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position:  1st

Did you think Carl Edwards was going to take this win away from you?
“There at the end I got a little worried.  First person I have to thank is Carl Edwards for racing me clean.  He raced me hard, but raced me clean.  I gave him as much room as I could there.  My car, I don’t know why, but the last couple changes it just didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to.  Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and these guys brought an awesome Interstate Batteries Camry here to begin with.  There wasn’t much work we needed to do on it.  Man, to lead that many laps and to come out of here with a win.  It feels really, really good and I love coming out to the west coast and Phoenix.  Thanks to the rest of our partners.  All the guys that worked on this -- I said a ‘hybrid’ Camry because it has Interstate on the hood.  It’s fun to run in this Nationwide Series and to run in front of these fans here in Phoenix.  It’s fun!  There was a battle down there at the end and I don’t know how I held him off but I kept running as hard as I could knowing that he was going to give me a heck of a fight.  He doesn’t go down easy – you can’t wear him out – he’s an ironman.  It was a good race for us.”

Did knowing how Carl Edwards’ car was working help you win the race?
“It helped a little bit.  I was just trying to figure out how Carl (Edwards) was getting better because he kept keeping up with us more and more as the race progressed there.  I wanted to know what changes he was making to his car that made him better.  I could understand more about what I needed to make my car there.  They were tightening up so I thought maybe if I tighten up mine it would get better.  It killed the turn ability of the thing through the middle of the corner and it was still loose.  Now your cranked full-lock left and the back is sliding out from underneath you and it was a handful.  You can’t go through the corner very fast, especially when you kind of tuck underneath the back of me, he got me a little loose.  We held on and made it to victory lane.  Two for two so far this weekend.”

Do you think your fans will need to buy some brooms?
“I hope so, man.  That’s the plan.  I hope Carl (Edwards) didn’t save everything he had for tomorrow.  I know I let him sit on the pole so he could speak to the fans in the morning during driver intros.  We were joking about that earlier.  Our Combos Camry is good, I’ll let you know in about 24 hours.” Have you ever had such a dominant race car?
“I have before but sometimes you don’t get to lead every single lap.  There’s guys that stay out on pit road or something like that.  I think missed leading three laps at ORP (Indianapolis) a couple years ago or something.  All in all, this was such a phenomenal day with this Camry.  This thing was phenomenal.”

Did you have any idea you’d be the first driver to lead flag-to-flag since 2003?
“I knew that after the first run, it was such a long run that nobody stayed out.  Then the second run it was such a long run that everybody pitted again and same thing.  I was like, ‘Man, so far I’ve led every lap of this thing,’ and it came down towards the end of the race there and Carl (Edwards) was alongside me and he was trying to pass me and I was like, ‘Man, just beat him back to the start-finish line, man just beat him back to the start-finish line.’  I was just trying to hold on for as long as I could.  Finally, it seemed like it was about 15 laps or so that his stuff would just start falling off enough where we could start clicking back away and get away from him a little bit.  I knew if I could just make it to that threshold, that I thought we’d be okay.  Fortunately we got there.  When it came down to the end of the race I knew it was every lap.  It was pretty cool, I love doing that stuff and being where you’re the guy to beat.  I wish it would be tomorrow -- that would be an awfully boring race probably.  Hopefully there’s still enough going on behind us that there’s plenty of action there.  The last time I remembered, I didn’t remember Dale Jr.’s (Earnhardt) deal, but the last time I remembered was Jeff Burton at New Hampshire did it.  That was the last time I remembered in a Cup car.”

“It would seem as though it was the perfect race, but unfortunately no, it’s not.  There were some mistakes made on my part.  You’re going to have little mistakes missing a line or doing this, doing that throughout the event.  I think everything went well with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and I -- the conversations we had and talks we were talking about the adjustments and things we tried to make.  Our thought processes were that it was going to be the right decisions so that’s why we did them.  I don’t know that the adjustment there at the end of the race was good.  There was a couple times that I slipped and kind of screwed up that really got Carl (Edwards) closer to me and then got me on the inside of me.  I was trying like heck to keep him off of me.  I did rebound from those, so you could say you made up a little bit for what you lost.  All in all, it was a really good day.  It’s not that far from perfect.”

Were you surprised Carl Edwards raced you clean at the end of the race?
“No, if you would have asked him (Carl Edwards) the right question, he would say he owes me one.  (Media member: ‘He did say that.’)  Did he, alright so I guess I still owe him one.  I thought we’d be over that by now.  Carl, you never know with him and he can surprise you sometimes but with both of us having a really good day like that, it’s probably not necessarily worth it and especially if it comes down to where the Chase is coming near and you’re close and not yet in or if it’s a championship time and you have a shot for the championship or you don’t.  He’ll save it.  It’s like an elephant, we all never forget.  I loved racing with Carl, have and always have.  Today was no different.  I felt confident that we could race each other hard, race each other clean.  I tried to give him room.  He did a nice job at holding his line and everything.  There were a couple times when he got right up underneath the back of me and I wasn’t sure how close he was.  I couldn’t feel the back end of the car at all.  I was trying to steer it out and get through the loose conditions that he was causing me.  I don’t think he ever touched me so it was good.  I appreciated it.  I let him know, well I didn’t let him know, I gestured to him so I think he gets the idea.”

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How was the race from your view?
“When we unloaded we had a fast race car.  Just all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing have been working extremely hard this winter.  Our four races last year with this new car were not terrible, but they weren’t spectacular, they weren’t what we needed and the guys really dug their heels in and worked hard over the winter.  It was fun to unload and have a fast race car.  The pit crew was flawless.  Kyle (Busch) did a good job in qualifying to get us that No. 1 pit stall -- that's always a bonus here because track position is so important.  The pit crew did a nice job all day.  The adjustments were going our way.  This is the second time now I’ve made this particular adjustment on this new car and it has done exactly the opposite of what I thought it would do.  We did it last year at Charlotte, had a good race car and made an adjustment and gestured right out of the ball park.  We’re learning.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 0 200 Running
2 2 60 Carl Edwards Ford Ford. Drive One. / Ford Mustang 0 200 Running
3 9 33 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem / Menards 0 200 Running
4 6 30 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Dollar General 0 200 Running
5 10 32 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Dollar General 39/0 200 Running
6 3 20 Joey Logano Toyota Sport Clips 0 200 Running
7 15 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Roush Fenway Racing 37/0 200 Running
8 16 31 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet Brandt / Monterey AgResources 36/0 200 Running
9 5 11 Brian Scott Toyota Shore Lodge 35/0 200 Running
10 18 09 Kenny Wallace Toyota Family Farmers 34/0 200 Running
11 13 38 Jason Leffler Chevrolet Great Clips 33/0 200 Running
12 11 2 Elliott Sadler Chevrolet Fast Fixin' On the Go Sandwiches 32/0 200 Running
13 25 88 Aric Almirola Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 31/0 199 Running
14 14 99 Ryan Truex * Toyota Pastrana Waltrip Racing 30/0 199 Running
15 12 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet NEMCO Motorsports 29/0 198 Running
16 26 40 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet Key Motorsports 28/0 198 Running
17 20 7 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 27/0 197 Running
18 24 39 Josh Wise Ford Stop Repair Bills.com 26/0 197 Running
19 17 62 Michael Annett Toyota Pilot Flying J Coffee 25/0 197 Running
20 19 19 Mike Bliss Chevrolet TriStar Motorsports 24/0 197 Running
21 23 44 Charles Lewandoski Chevrolet NortheastMarineElectronics.com 23/0 196 Running
22 22 51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet Mitchell Swaback Charities / RaceDaySponsor.com 22/0 196 Running
23 35 28 Derrike Cope Chevrolet ThePrevention Plan.com 21/0 195 Running
24 31 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Dodge North Texas Pipe 20/0 194 Running
25 27 14 Eric McClure Chevrolet Hefty BlackOut / Reynolds 19/0 193 Running
26 21 01 Mike Wallace Chevrolet HalfOffDeals.com 18/0 193 Running
27 32 81 Blake Koch * Dodge RizeUp.us 17/0 193 Running
28 29 70 Shelby Howard Chevrolet Foretravel Motorcoach 16/0 191 Running
29 30 15 Timmy Hill* Ford Fuel Doctor USA 15/0 191 Running
30 8 66 Steve Wallace Toyota 5-Hour Energy 14/0 190 Running
31 7 16 Trevor Bayne Ford Roush Fenway Racing 13/0 164 Accident
32 40 79 Jennifer Jo Cobb * Ford CarportEmpire.com 12/0 162 Running
33 28 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet Victory in Jesus / Imperial Bedding Company 11/0 108 Handling
34 4 22 Brad Keselowski Dodge Discount Tire 0 105 Accident
35 34 52 Daryl Harr Chevrolet WestWorld Computers 9/0 101 Radiator
36 38 141 Carl Long Ford Rick Ware Racing 8/0 19 Brakes
37 37 24 Kevin Lepage Ford RaceDaySponsor.com 7/0 17 Overheating
38 33 25 Kelly Bires Ford RaceDaySponsor.com 6/0 10 Brakes
39 39 55 Brett Rowe Chevrolet Salvation Army / Imperial Bedding Company 5/0 8 Handling
40 36 27 Justin Marks Ford Baker Curb Racing 0 7 Brakes

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