Kyle Busch earns chance for perfect weekend
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 7:53 PM
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Polesitter Kyle Busch dominated early and held off Carl Edwards late for the Nationwide Series' first wire-to-wire win in eight years on Saturday, setting up the chance for a perfect weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Nationwide opener was a nail-biter, with Tony Stewart nipping Clint Bowyer by .007 seconds for the series' closest finish ever at Daytona. Busch had race No. 2 looking like a walkover until Edwards pulled beside him three times in the final 20 laps.
Busch never let him get around, though, leading a track-record 200 laps to become the first green-to-checkers winner in any NASCAR series national race since Dale Earnhardt Jr. did it during a Nationwide race at Daytona in 2003.
The trucks winner Friday night, Busch can make it three straight in Sunday's 500-mile Sprint Cup race, where he'll start fourth.
He won the trucks race in a dominating performance and was fast in his Nationwide car, too, setting a track record of 134.298 mph to secure the pole.
Of course, records have been falling everywhere this weekend.
Clint Bowyer set the trucks qualifying record on Friday and Edwards qualified on the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race with a track-record speed, one of 15 drivers to eclipse the record he set on the way to winning at Phoenix last fall.
The weather changed for the Nationwide race, as wind from an incoming storm whipped flags atop the grandstands and wobbled pit signs like giant fishing poles with a marlin on the end.
None of it slowed Busch down.
He pulled away from Edwards from the opening green flag and did the same on a couple of restarts, lapping more than half the field by the race's midpoint.
Edwards was the only driver who could stay in Busch's mirror, lingering a few seconds back while the rest of the field was 10 or more on green-flag racing for the last 60 laps or so. He was close to Busch after a restart with about 30 laps left and pulled beside him three times in about a 10-lap span, but could never make the pass.
Busch kept a few car lengths ahead after that to win for the fourth time in 12 Nationwide starts at Phoenix.
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne had a solid day going before being bitten by a blown tire.
He had to go to a backup Sprint Cup car after a blown tire sent him into the wall on the first lap of practice on Friday, and the same thing happen with 35 laps left in the Nationwide race. Bayne started seventh and was steady in the top 10 before the accident, finishing 31st.
Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.