Kyle Busch wins Xfinity race at Phoenix -- again
Avondale, Ariz. — Kyle Busch won yet another Xfinity Series race and immediately turned his attention to the big picture — racing for NASCAR’s top title.
Busch dominated again at Phoenix International Raceway, leading 190 of 200 laps Saturday in his record eighth NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at the track.
Busch easily held off fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills) for his sixth series victory of the season and record-extending 76th overall. Busch started from the pole in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Toyota.
But his focus quickly turned to a planned Saturday evening debrief with crew chief Adam Stevens to discuss Sunday’s main event. Busch has a slot in the Sprint Cup Series championship finale within reach for the first time in his career. He’s won of seven drivers vying for three available slots in next weekend’s title-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We’ll see how it stacks up,” Busch said in victory lane. “Learned some things here today that I think can help out and looking forward to seeing Adam here in a little bit.”
Truck Series leader Erik Jones was third, and Daniel Suarez was fourth to give Gibbs three of the top four spots.
The Xfinity Series championship race, meanwhile, remaining muddled.
Points leader Chris Buescher finished 13th, but his top challengers for the title failed to capitalize on his mediocre day.
With one race left next week at Homestead, Buescher is 18 points ahead of defending series champion Chase Elliott, 22 in front of Ty Dillon, and 24 ahead of Regan Smith. Dillon was fifth in the race, Smith sixth, and Elliott seventh. Even if one of the other contenders wins next week, Buescher would take the title with a 13th-place finish or better.
Elliott lamented failing to capitalize on Buescher’s average day.
“We had about 15,000 opportunities to get (a better finish) and I messed every single one of them up,” Elliott said. “You can’t give up free points like that and we had plenty of opportunities to get two more (positions) and I messed that up. There’s still next week, a lot of things can happen and we’re not giving up. We just need to go have a solid effort in Homestead.”
Buescher struggled with the handling of his Ford the entire day, but was satisfied with his finish because he’s typically struggled at Phoenix.
“I thought this was the best car we’ve had and it probably was overall, but something about this place doesn’t work for us very well,” he said. “On the points side of things, this was a good day. We’ll be able to go into Homestead and if we pretty much stay out of trouble, be able to wrap this thing up.”
But Elliott believed there was still a chance to catch Buescher in the finale.
“It’s really not much. One mistake left or right, that’s getting in the gas too soon, slapping the wall, so many things can happen,” Elliott said. “We need to have a solid week and hope for the best.”
Buescher didn’t seem concerned.
“Even though they gained some points, honestly, unless something crazy happens at Homestead, it’s just not going to be enough,” he said.