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Busch dominates rain shortened Nationwide race

At Phoenix
Saturday, March 01, 2014

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Kyle Busch was untouchable
Getty Images for NASCAR
You can change the cars.

You can change the qualifying format.

You can change the weather from cloudy to sunny to rainy—multiple times.

But, no matter what you do, you can’t keep Kyle Busch out of Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway, at least not where the NASCAR Nationwide Series is concerned.

In Saturday’s Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at the one-mile track in the Sonoran desert, Busch dominated — again — leading 155 laps en route to his unprecedented third straight Nationwide victory at PIR and his seventh overall.

Busch’s first victory of the 2014 was his 64th overall, extending his own series record, and it was his first in a rain-shortened race in any of NASCAR’s top three series. Despite repeated efforts to dry the track, NASCAR ultimately called the event 32 laps short of its scheduled distance.

With a hard rain falling, NASCAR brought the cars to pit road and halted the race after Busch crossed the finish line to complete Lap 168, under caution for Ryan Reed’s crash into the wall that guards the inside of the backstretch dogleg.

After a red-flag period of two hours, eight minutes, NASCAR made Busch’s win official.

"I think just the pure dominance we’ve shown here the last few times that we’ve come here and the amount of laps we’ve led with how fast our cars are is pretty phenomenal," Busch said after a rain-soaked celebration. "All the credit goes to Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody back at the shop.

"It’s fun to win them anyway. This is my first time winning a rain-shortened one. Welcome to the tent. I don’t know that it really made a whole lot of difference. We were really good. I would have loved to gone back out there after, but the weather wasn’t on our side today."

The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had taken the point for the first time with a pass of polesitter Brad Keselowski on Lap 6. From that point on, he toyed with the rest of the field, extending his advantage to more than four seconds at its widest.

Kevin Harvick was second when rain halted the race, having passed Keselowski on Lap 160. Keselowski recovered from an accident on Lap 20 to run third. A tap from the pole winner sent Daryl Harr spinning into the outside wall off Turn 2 in a collision that also damaged the nose of Keselowski’s car.

The 2010 NNS champion restarted 27th on Lap 29 after pitting but worked his way forward and took advantage of his earlier pit stop to retake the lead, since most of the cars behind him had made green-flag stops for tires and fuel before the second caution slowed the race on Lap 90.

For the 2nd weekend in  row the Air Titan system got a good workout
Getty Images for NASCAR
Harvick led briefly for the restart on Lap 97, but Busch regained the top spot on the restart lap and never relinquished it.

Kyle Larson was fourth, followed by Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne and last Saturday’s Daytona winner, Regan Smith, who retained a five-point lead over Bayne in the series standings.

In his first run in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Harvick was loose on restarts and soon fell approximately two seconds behind Busch.

"From there, we were just able to maintain," Harvick said. "But a good effort for the first time out. ... Kyle had the best car today. We probably finished where we should have."

During three breaks in the rain, NASCAR put its Air Titan track-drying system to work, but three more intermittent downpours foiled the efforts to restart the race.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

Is this a strong statement by your crew chief Adam Stevens to win four straight Phoenix NNS races?

“I think just the pure dominance we’ve shown here the last few times that we’ve come here and the amount of laps we’ve led with how fast our cars are is pretty phenomenal.  All the credit goes to Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody back at the shop, all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing Engines, Monster Energy Drink, Toyota and the Toyota Camry we drove here today.  It’s fun to win them anyway.  This is my first time winning a rain-shortened one.  Welcome to the tent.  I don’t know that it really made a whole lot of difference.  We were really good.  I would have loved to gone back out there after, but the weather wasn’t on our side today.”

Are you glad to be in victory lane after the rain delay?

“It certainly has been a true testament to this team -- Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys.  We’ve been very dominant here in the past years and led a lot of laps today.  I felt like we could have won it whether it was rain-shortened or whether we went the whole distance.  It certainly was a great Monster Energy Camry and a great race for us.  We battled hard with a couple guys and had a green flag stop today.  All in all, it was meant to be for us I felt like, we just had to be able to put ourselves in the right position.”

What did it feel like to wait two hours during the red flag for the race to be called?

“It made it harder because we were like, ‘Alright, come on, just call it, just be done with it.’  NASCAR did everything they could to get us back out there.  We appreciate the fans being out here today.  Unfortunately they didn’t get to see a full race, but we tried with what we could and Mother Nature just wasn’t on our side.  I can’t say enough to be in victory lane today.”

Results

Pos Car # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status
1 54 Kyle Busch Toyota 3 168 155 Running
2 88 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 7 168 4 Running
3 22 Brad Keselowski Ford 1 168 9 Running
4 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 9 168 0 Running
5 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 4 168 0 Running
6 11 Elliott Sadler Toyota 6 168 0 Running
7 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 10 168 0 Running
8 7 Regan Smith Chevrolet 8 168 0 Running
9 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 11 168 0 Running
10 3 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 5 168 0 Running
11 2 Brian Scott Chevrolet 2 168 0 Running
12 99 James Buescher Toyota 16 168 0 Running
13 31 Dylan Kwasniewski Chevrolet 13 168 0 Running
14 39 Ryan Sieg Chevrolet 18 168 0 Running
15 60 Chris Buescher Ford 12 168 0 Running
16 62 Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 14 168 0 Running
17 19 Mike Bliss Toyota 17 168 0 Running
18 43 Dakoda Armstrong Ford 20 167 0 Running
19 01 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 19 167 0 Running
20 28 Mike Wallace Dodge 24 166 0 Running
21 51 Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 31 165 0 Running
22 16 Ryan Reed Ford 15 164 0 Accident
23 14 Eric McClure Toyota 28 164 0 Running
24 52 Joey Gase Chevrolet 30 164 0 Running
25 24 Ruben Garcia Mateos Toyota 32 164 0 Running
26 40 Josh Wise Chevrolet 21 164 0 Running
27 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevrolet 25 164 0 Running
28 17 Tanner Berryhill Dodge 23 163 0 Running
29 23 Carlos Contreras Chevrolet 38 163 0 Running
30 90 Martin Roy Chevrolet 39 160 0 Running
31 74 Mike Harmon Chevrolet 36 149 0 Running
32 55 Jamie Dick Chevrolet 27 131 0 Engine
33 44 Will Kimmel III Toyota 26 117 0 Running
34 70 Derrike Cope Chevrolet 35 86 0 Accident
35 76 Tommy Joe Martins Ford 34 40 0 Electrical
36 87 Daryl Harr Chevrolet 37 18 0 Accident
37 93 Carl Long Dodge 33 13 0 Brakes
38 46 Matt DiBenedetto Chevrolet 29 6 0 Electrical
39 10 Blake Koch Toyota 22 3 0 Vibration

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