Kyle Busch Wins at Phoenix

0
323
ISM Raceway, Phoenix AZ, Sunday, March 10, 2019

The early season western swing of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series makes its stop in Phoenix this weekend. The reconfigured ISM speedway hosts the TicketGuardian 500, 312 laps around the 1-mile speedway or 500 kilometers. Stages are 75/75/162 laps for today’s race.

Some interesting occurrences brought a little excitement to the early weekend. Denny Hamlin(11), The Daytona 500 Champion, played some golf this week and scored a hole-in-one. According to Hamlin, it was the 2nd time he has aced a hole during a round of golf. His first, a scalded 9-iron, hit the pin so hard it popped up in the air and fell in the hole. This one, more legitimate. A 7-iron on the 178-yard hole was a high arching draw that hit 4 feet short of the pin and rolled into the cup. Yes, Denny treated the clubhouse to drinks as is the custom.

The Fight

Qualifying usually does not create the type of emotion that overflows into fisticuffs. However, when Michael McDowell(34) cut off Daniel Suarez(41) ruining a fast lap, Suarez took offense. At the conclusion of Round 1, Suarez marched into McDowell’s pit and a confrontation ensued.

Interestingly McDowell and Suarez rode together during pre-race ceremonies. Daniel described it as awkward.

Ryan Blaney(12), in his Ford Mustang, sits on the pole after posting the fastest lap at 141.287 mph. Chase Elliott(9) starts next to Blaney on the front row.

Pole Winner Chase Elliott, Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey | Getty Images

The Start

Chase Elliott, starting outside of Ryan Blaney, beat Blaney to the start/finish line. On the start of the race, you can’t do that. The pole winner must cross the line first. Elliott was flagged for jumping the start and had to serve a drive-through penalty down pit road. Elliott returned to the track almost a lap down.

Photo Courtesy of NASCAR.com

Stage 1

Michigan’s Erik Jones(20) brought out the first caution of the day. A problem with Jones right rear suspension cut down the tire and he spun clipping the wall in Turn 2. The yellow flag allowed Elliott to avoid losing a lap.

Blaney had led the first portion of the race in Stage 1. Hamlin took the top spot coming out of pit road 1st after the caution period pit stops. Kyle Busch(18) out second restarted next to Hamlin.

Hamlin led for 4 laps before being passed by Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski(2) cut a tire and brought out the caution again on Lap 63. With the Stage ending on Lap 75, some teams pitted, some stayed out. This jumbled the running order and created a sprint to the green and white checkered flag. Ryan Blaney took the Stage win.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
12 Ryan Blaney* 10
10 Aric Almirola* 9
22 Joey Logano* 8
88 Alex Bowman 7
20 Kyle Busch 6
18 Kyle Larson 5
3 Austin Dillon 4
24 William Byron 3
9 Chase Elliott 2
4 Kevin Harvick* 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

Stage 2

With pit stops late in Stage 1, not everyone came to pit road with the caution at the end of the stage. Driver’s went five wide on the restart scrambling for position. When the field sorted out Kyle Busch led. Clint Bowyer(14) ran 2nd, Kevin Harvick(4) 3rd, Martin Truex Jr.(19) 4th, and Hamlin 5th.

Kyle Busch led the entire green flag segment of Stage 2. Alex Bowman(88) hit the wall with 3 laps to go in the Stage, freezing the filed for the finish.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
18 Kyle Busch 10
14 Clint Bowyer 9
4 Kevin Harvick* 8
19 Martin Turex Jr. 7
11 Denny Hamlin 6
6 Ryan Newman 5
48 Jimmie Johnson 4
22 Joey Logano 3
9 Chase Elliott 2
1 Kurt Busch 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Final Stage

On the restart for the final stage drivers again scramble 3, 4, and 5 wide for position. Something broke on McDowell’s car and he hit the wall on Lap 158 bringing out the caution. McDowell later reported his throttle stuck wide open and he had to shut it down to avoid a more serious accident.

Kyle Busch is able to fire off on the restarts and move away in clean air. As the scrum behind him settles down after a couple of laps Bowyer maintained 2nd place. Truex held the 3rd spot, with Jimmie Johnson(48) in 4th, and Joey Logano(22) in 5th.

Bowman hit the wall again on Lap 193. This time the damage sends his car to the garage. With 119 laps to go everyone is outside the window to make it on 1 pit stop. Still, the field comes to pit road for tires and fuel. Some drivers opt to take just 2 tires in an effort to gain track position. Jimmie Johnson was one of those driver’s and he exited the pits in 1st.

Restarts

Johnson could not hold the lead as Kyle Busch moved quickly back to the front. Bowyer ran 3rd, Harvick in 4th, and Truex in the 5th position.

Chase Elliott worked his way back to 8th position after his opening lap gaffe. He spun on Lap 218 after complaining to his crew that he felt he had a loose wheel. The caution displayed again.

Everyone pitted again with 92 laps to go. The fuel window at Phoenix is 78-85 laps. With a few caution laps, someone is likely to try and stretch the fuel to the finish. Some drivers opted for fuel only during the stop, scrambling the front of the field.

At the restart, they line up with Daniel Hemric(8) in the lead. Austin Dillon(3) in 2nd, Harvick in 3rd. Aric Almirola(10) in 4th, and Blaney in 5th. Kyle Busch restarted in 8th.

Trouble

Before completing a lap Ryan Preece(47) got tapped during a 3 wide scramble. He spun on the backstretch and brought out the caution again. Fuel saving mode occupies the drivers as they try and eke out extra laps.

The lineup for the restart forms up. Almirola leads Hemric, Kurt Busch moved into 3rd. With Dillon 4th and Kyle Busch 5th.

Preece crashed his car again on the restart lap. Bringing out the caution again. Some drivers opted to stop for gas and tires as the fuel window to the end of the race is now open.

This time the top five are Almirola, Dillon, Blaney and the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt. The race restarted with 74 laps to go. With 61 to go Blaney passed Almirola and Kyle Busch closed the top three down to 6 car lengths.

With 56 laps to go Kyle Busch passed Almirola for 2nd. But, Blaney had built a second and a half lead.

The Finish

With 18 to go Kyle Busch pulled up to the bumper of Blaney. They drove side by side for 2 laps until Busch passed Blaney and moved to the front.

Kyle Busch won the Xfinity race yesterday, scoring his 198th victory across NASCAR’s top three series. Since passing Blaney he built the lead to over two seconds and held on for the win. Truex passed Blaney for 2nd as the laps wound down.

Team Penske winning three weeks in a row and qualifying all their drivers for the playoffs fell a few laps short. Kyle Busch is the second Joe Gibbs Racing driver to qualify for the playoffs after Hamlin won at Daytona.

Photo Credit: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

 

 

Results of the TicketGuardian 500

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 18 Kyle Busch 312
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. 1.259 312
3 12 Ryan Blaney 5.400 312
4 10 Aric Almirola 9.166 312
5 11 Denny Hamlin 10.443 312
6 42 Kyle Larson 12.973 312
7 1 Kurt Busch 13.363 312
8 48 Jimmie Johnson 13.911 312
9 4 Kevin Harvick 14.354 312
10 22 Joey Logano 14.736 312
11 14 Clint Bowyer 15.138 312
12 6 Ryan Newman 19.083 312
13 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 20.415 312
14 9 Chase Elliott 20.764 312
15 13 Ty Dillon 23.513 312
16 37 Chris Buescher 27.289 312
17 21 Paul Menard -1 311
18 8 Daniel Hemric -1 311
19 2 Brad Keselowski -1 311
20 36 Matt Tifft -1 311
21 3 Austin Dillon -1 311
22 43 Bubba Wallace -1 311
23 41 Daniel Suarez -1 311
24 24 William Byron -2 310
25 38 David Ragan -2 310
26 32 Corey LaJoie -2 310
27 15 Ross Chastain -4 308
28 95 Matt DiBenedetto -4 308
29 20 Erik Jones -8 304
30 77 Quin Houff -10 302
31 52 Bayley Currey -11 301
32 51 Cody Ware -12 300
33 0 Landon Cassill -45 267
34 47 Ryan Preece -82 229
35 88 Alex Bowman -120 191
36 34 Michael McDowell -154 157

Points/Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Kyle Busch 161 1
2 Joey Logano* 160 1
3 Denny Hamlin 159 1
4 Brad Keselowski* 133 1
5 Kevin Harvick* 159 0
6 Martin Truex Jr. 133 0
7 Kyle Larson 133 0
8 Kurt Busch 125 0
9 Aric Almirola* 125 0
10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 123 0
11 Clint Bowyer* 109 0
12 Erik Jones 106 0
13 Chase Elliott 104 0
14 Ryan Blaney* 103 0
15 Jimmie Johnson 94 0
16 Ryan Newman 87 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Alex Bowman 87 0
18 Paul Menard* 81 0
19 William Byron 79 0
20 Daniel Suarez* 77 0

*Ford Mustang Drivers