Kyle Busch dominated the DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, leading all but 10 laps of the 200-lap race on his way to his eighth Xfinity Series win at the track. The victory was Busch’s sixth series win in 13 races in 2015 and the 76th series victory of his career, adding to his tally as the Xfinity Series’ all-time winningest driver.
Fellow-Sprint Cup Series regular Brad Keselowski took runner-up honors, while Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and Camping World Truck Series regular Erik Jones finished third. Another Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Daniel Suarez, finished fourth to give JGR three cars in the top-five of the finishing order. Suarez also was the highest-finishing Xfinity Series championship-eligible driver. Another Xfinity regular, Ty Dillon, rounded out the top-five.
Busch started on the pole with Austin Dillon alongside in second. Busch led the way until losing two spots on pit road during the second caution of the race that came out on lap 59. Elliott Sadler got off pit road first by taking only two tires, and Keselowski also beat Busch out of the pits.
“We had a great day on pit road,” Keselowski said. “The guys on the pit crew did a great job, there. We gained spots, so that was really cool and real fun, but we just needed a lot more speed to run with the 54 (Busch). Either way, it was a pretty solid day.”
Keselowski and Busch moved up to first and second when the race restarted as Sadler slipped back several positions. Busch then took the lead from Keselowski on lap 68. Busch, Keselowski and Jones ran first through third until the yellow flag waved again on lap 113, and just like before, Keselowski beat Busch off pit road. Busch, though, retook the lead right after the race restarted and led the remaining distance.
“I was able to get the gas down so much better than maybe my competitors today,” Busch said. I felt like I could hammer the throttle and the car would stick. That’s probably the biggest thing — feeling like you can win. You have to turn the center, too. You definitely can’t be too tight on exit that you can hit the gas like that and screw up the center; it’s easy to do.”
Busch pulled away in the remaining laps and had a cushion of three-and-a-half seconds over then-second-place-running Keselowski with four laps remaining. Keselowski also had pulled away from a third-place battle between teammates Jones and Suarez.
Xfinity Series points leader Chris Buescher finished 13th to put himself in a position in which he’ll only need to finish 13th or better in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21 to secure his first Xfinity Series championship, no matter where his closest title competitors, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith finish.
“The team worked really hard to get this AdvoCare Mustang fast, and we were good for a short run, but after that, it just went away in a hurry. It’s just tough. We never really run good here 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.”