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Busch dominates at Phoenix for 52nd Nationwide win

Nationwide at Phoenix
Saturday, March 02, 2013

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Kyle Busch celebrates
Getty Images for NASCAR

Nothing was going to keep Kyle Busch out of Victory Lane on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Not a pit road speeding penalty. Not a spate of cautions that kept bunching the field. Not Brad Keselowski, who in the past has found magic out front on old tires.

The prohibitive favorite in the Dollar General 200—after he won the pole in a laydown earlier in the day—Busch overcame a speeding penalty that dropped him to 22nd position for a restart on Lap 44.

That was a momentary setback. Working his way through traffic in short order, Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead on Lap 89. He lost the top spot briefly by pitting under caution on Lap 152, as Keselowski and three other drivers remained on the track, but Busch regained the lead on Lap 164, clearing Keselowski as the cars streaked into Turn 3.

Busch stayed out front the rest of the way. The victory was his first in the No. 54 Toyota and a record 52nd in the Nationwide Series.

"It's great to be back, working with (crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and these guys," said Busch, who was winless last year in the Nationwide Series driving for his own team. "It was a bummer deal not to be able to get a win at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) last year, but (owner) Joe (Gibbs) putting me back in his operation and being back with the Joe Gibbs Racing side of things and Mark Cronquist engines, it's a phenomenal day for us to get back to Victory Lane, to feel the taste of it again.

"I was almost nervous, feeling like it was my first win, although it's win No. 52 in the series. It's nice to be back."

Keselowski held second by stretching his fuel to the end without pitting. Justin Allgaier ran third and leaves Phoenix tied for the series lead with Sam Hornish Jr., who came home seventh. Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler completed the top five.

Jimmie Johnson, using a rare Nationwide Series appearance to get some extra laps on a track that has befuddled him since its resurfacing in 2011, finished 12th.

Even though he tried a contrarian strategy, Keselowski knew that tactics alone wouldn't be enough to overcome Busch's advantage in speed.

"I knew I had a shot if something happened to Kyle, and we had to put ourselves in position for good things to happen," Keselowski said. "But Kyle's car was so fast. I probably could have had four tires and he could have had none, and it still wouldn't have mattered. He'd still have drove through the field.

"When you have that much speed, you're pretty much immune to strategy."

Beginning his fifth full season of Nationwide racing, Allgaier is off to the best start of his career.

"The first five (races) kind of get you kicked off for the next 10 or 15," Allgaier said. "This has been huge for us, for Turner Scott Motorsports. Our program has come a long way during the offseason. I'll be the first to tell you that, at the end of the year last year, we were kind of scratching our heads. We knew we had a great organization. We just didn't know what we were missing.

"Everybody at the team really buckled down ... This is the strongest season start I've had. I hope we can keep that going and transfer it into a championship."

The race wasn't yet two laps old when Johanna Long drove hard into Turn 3 and tagged the back of the Ford of Hornish, the series leader entering the race.  With the front of her car damaged by the contact, Long slapped the wall exiting Turn 4, triggering a chain-reaction wreck that collected five other cars, including those of Hornish (who had fallen behind her) and Travis Pastrana.

"I don't know; it just took off on me," Long said of her contact with the wall. "I got in a little too hard, there (into) Hornish, felt bad, got under him. I got into the gas, and it just took off.

"I definitely didn't want to finish like this. It's really disheartening. I feel really bad. I don't know what else to say."

The aftermath of the wreck turned bizarre when the scoring transponder from Jamie Dick's car (another victim of the accident) lodged in the nose of Hornish's Ford. Though Hornish lost two laps on pit road while the transponder was removed, NASCAR restored the No. 12 to the lead lap because the extraction — to prevent Dick's car from being scored improperly - was ordered by the sanctioning body.

Hornish's travails weren't quite over. After restarting sixth on Lap 109, Hornish spun in Turn 2 a lap later to bring out the fifth caution but remained on the lead lap. The nose and hood of his car heavily taped, Hornish salvaged the seventh-place finish.

Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Status
1 1 54 Kyle Busch(i) Monster Toyota 200 Running
2 9 22 Brad Keselowski(i) Discount Tire Ford 200 Running
3 5 31 Justin Allgaier Brandt Chevrolet 200 Running
4 4 6 Trevor Bayne Valvoline NextGen Ford 200 Running
5 15 11 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Toyota 200 Running
6 6 3 Austin Dillon AdvoCare Chevrolet 200 Running
7 19 12 Sam Hornish Jr. Detroit Genuine Parts Ford 200 Running
8 3 18 Matt Kenseth(i) Reser's Toyota 200 Running
9 8 43 Aric Almirola(i) Flying J Ford 200 Running
10 21 2 Brian Scott Whitetail Chevrolet 200 Running
11 13 7 Regan Smith TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet 200 Running
12 7 5 Jimmie Johnson(i) Great Clips Chevrolet 200 Running
13 14 32 Kyle Larson # Eveready Chevrolet 200 Running
14 22 19 Mike Bliss TriStar Motorsports/Sheraton Toyota 200 Running
15 23 30 Nelson Piquet Jr. # Worx Chevrolet 200 Running
16 30 24 Blake Koch I Am Second/Salt Life/Support Military Toyota 200 Running
17 2 20 Brian Vickers Dollar General Toyota 199 Running
18 36 40 Reed Sorenson TheMotorsportsGroup.com Chevrolet 198 Running
19 11 77 Parker Kligerman Toyota Toyota 198 Running
20 27 79 Jeffrey Earnhardt # Uponor/Re-Load.biz Ford 198 Running
21 35 51 Ryan Sieg(i) Chevrolet 198 Running
22 32 00 Jason White Headrush Toyota 197 Running
23 24 44 Hal Martin # American Custom Yachts/Crowne Plaza Toyota 197 Running
24 28 92 Dexter Stacey # Maddie's Place Ford 195 Running
25 33 23 Harrison Rhodes(i) timsharespot.com Ford 194 Running
26 38 15 Juan Carlos Blum # VMP Ford 193 Running
27 40 74 Mike Harmon Chevrolet 192 Running
28 12 60 Travis Pastrana Roush Fenway Racing Ford 189 Running
29 20 14 Eric McClure Hefty/Reynolds Toyota 187 Engine
30 37 52 Joey Gase BBB.org/Donate Life AZ Chevrolet 150 Transmission
31 18 99 Alex Bowman # Port of Tucson Toyota 142 Running
32 25 01 Mike Wallace Verve! Chevrolet 139 Running
33 10 33 Kevin Harvick(i) Menards/Rheem Chevrolet 101 Accident
34 39 4 Daryl Harr iWorld/Flex Seal Chevrolet 95 Engine
35 17 55 Jamie Dick VivaAutoGroup.com Chevrolet 59 Accident
36 29 87 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Toyota 50 Accident
37 26 10 Jeff Green TriStar Motorsports/Embassy Suites Toyota 17 Handling
38 31 42 Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 10 Brakes
39 34 46 Chase Miller Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 8 Vibration
40 16 70 Johanna Long Foretravel Chevrolet 2 Accident

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