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Kyle Busch passes Ryan Blaney late to win at ISM

Win #199 for Busch
Sunday, March 10, 2019

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Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag
Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag

Polesitter Ryan Blaney held a charging Kyle Busch as long as he could, but he couldn’t hold onto the lead as Busch’s No. 18 passed the No. 12 for the lead on Lap 296 with 17 laps to go at ISM Raceway on Sunday. Busch stretched his lead in the waning laps in the desert, notching his 199th NASCAR victory, one away from tying Richard Petty.

Busch, who paced the field for 177 laps, also won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, marking a weekend sweep for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Martin Truex Jr. passed Blaney’s Team Penske Ford in the final circuits to finish second in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Blaney notched a third-place finish after leading 94 laps, while Aric Almirola came up fourth in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Nine-time Phoenix winner and race favorite Kevin Harvick made slight contact with Jimmie Johnson at the Lap 232 restart, prompting him to lose ground as he headed to pit road for a four-tire stop. He emerged 21st and only made it up to ninth by the race’s end.

Outside polesitter Elliott was penalized for a restart violation on the opening lap and had to serve a pass-through penalty. He battled back through the field but spun out at Lap 218 after radioing in to his No. 9 crew about a vibration while running in the top 10. He finished 14th.

A string of incidents marked Stage 1 in the desert: Erik Jones, who was running 12th, smacked the wall after a right-rear tire went down on his No. 20 Toyota. Shortly after, Brad Keselowski began struggling with his No. 2 Ford, fading rapidly. He brushed the wall after something broke on his right front. Daniel Suarez had to get a push for his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford onto pit road, but was able to continue the race.

Blaney won Stage 1, while Kyle Busch won Stage 2, which ended under caution after Alex Bowman had a tire go down three laps before the end of the stage.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

yle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with his wife, Samantha, and son, Brexton, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates with his wife, Samantha, and son, Brexton, after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500

Did you have to work on your car at all today? It was pretty stout as far as running up front


“It was. It was really good. This Skittles Camry was awesome today. The guys did a great job - Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the boys. All through practice we worked on this thing each and every time and never gave up on it. Just kept trying to fine tune it and make it better and better each and every time. We knew the 12 (Ryan Blaney) was really really fast. He was probably the best car here this weekend. I don’t know if he just got too tight in that long run. That’s what it looked like all of us were doing. Just seemed like I could get through there a little bit better. I tried to search around and find something that could help me to get me going a little bit better and get around to his outside and get the lead. Just an awesome day for us here at ISM Raceway. To come out here and celebrate with another win – back to back races here. I’d love to be able to come back and do it again next time.”

How do you conserve fuel and outrun Ryan Blaney at the same time?

“You don’t. You just give it everything you’ve got and push hard and do everything right to get the lead first. You worry about fuel afterwards. When they said the 12 (Ryan Blaney) was backing off, I started backing off and trying to save a little bit of fuel. You’re not going to save, but maybe a shot glass in 12 laps. Overall though, we had plenty. We did a burn out and everything was good. Great day for us here to be in victory lane.”

How do you feel about your team and where you guys are at now that we’re three four races in?

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
“Best in the business. I’ve got the best guys on pit road. I’ve got the best guys in the garage and the best crew chief out there. I think all those combinations go together with a pretty good driver and we can go out there and get the job done. Now we just got to keep doing that. The Skittles Camry was awesome. Certainly want to give thanks to the fans and everybody’s support here at ISM Raceway and coming out here and enjoying some NASCAR action on this beautiful Sunday. Certainly want to give thanks to Black Clover, DVX Eyewear, Adidas, Cessna, Monster Energy, Stanley, Rheem, all of our partners that help us get here.”

I heard your crew chief and spotter telling you how close you are on fuel.  How do you balance watching the fuel but pushing hard enough to get Blaney and pass him?

“ I knew going back before we went green with however many to go that we were going to be right on the verge.  You got to go race hard first, then you have to worry about fuel afterwards. Once I got there, once I got to Blaney, I was able to kind of save a little bit.  Tried to take care of my tires again for the rest of the traffic we had to get through, make sure I had enough fuel to make it to the end. Man, God, this makes last week feel so much stupider.  I wish we could have swept last week, too.  That would have been pretty awesome to start out this year with two weekend sweeps, three being in my hometown of Vegas. We'll take what we got here today at IMS Raceway.  Cool to win yesterday in the iK9 Service Dog 200 in their race, more cool to win today in the Skittles Camry, get ourselves back to Victory Lane.”

You have been a man on a mission.  199 wins across the three different series.  How do you want to perceive what you are embarking on in this accomplishment?

“It's not for me to worry about.  It's for everybody else to discuss and talk about and argue over and debate. But for myself and the career that I've had, I've been fortunate to be with a lot of great people, a lot of great sponsors, those that stick around me like Joe Gibbs, M&M Skittles, Snickers, Interstate Batteries that has always been behind me is what it's all about for me. To work with my guys, take them to Victory Lane is what it's all about.”

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