Busch Dominates But Settles for Third at Phoenix
But just as Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looked as if he would cruise to his second Sprint Cup win of the season, a caution waved with just 10 laps remaining in the scheduled 312-lap distance. The caution allowed eventual race winner Kevin Harvick to sneak by Busch on the ensuing restart. Harvick also held off Busch for one final restart. The result was a solid, but ultimately heartbreaking, third-place finish for Busch.
“We had a great car. The M&M’s guys gave me an awesome piece,” said Busch, who earned his 10th top-10 finish in 16 starts at Phoenix, which included a win in November 2005. “Unfortunately there, I gave the race away. I hate it for my guys. They work so hard, and they dug hard this weekend.”
While it was Busch’s sixth top-five finish in the nine races since the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it was a disappointing result considering his dominance most of the day. It was also the eigth time this season Busch led the most laps but didn’t win. Busch’s JGR companions – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished second and 27th, respectively.
Logano was caught up in a late wreck caused by a scuffle between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon. Before the wreck, Logano seemed poised for a top-10 finish.
Hamlin is representing JGR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the ninth race of the 10-race Chase in seventh place among the 12 Chase drivers, 73 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin leaves Phoenix fifth in the standings, 62 points behind new Chase leader Brad Keselowski and 12 points ahead of sixth-place Matt Kenseth.
Busch maintained 13th in the standings with 1,091 points, 82 ahead of 14th-place Newman. Logano held his 17th position with 935 points, 156 points behind Busch in 13th. Since they are not Chase participants, Busch and Logano can finish no higher than 13th.
Logano Wins 9th Nationwide Race
Logano continued his stellar year in the Nationwide Series with a dominating win in Saturday’s Great Clips 200 at Phoenix. After qualifying his No. 18 GameStop Toyota on the pole, Logano led 168 of the race’s 204 laps. Logano’s ninth win this season came in just 21 starts.
With the win, Logano was able to extend the 18 team’s lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s Standings. The No. 18 JGR team now holds a 33-point lead over the No. 6 of Roush-Fenway Racing heading into the season finale next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
NHRA Pro Stock: Edwards Advances to Semi-finals
Team Interstate’s Mike Edwards qualified his Penhall/K&N/Interstate Batteries Pontiac in the No. 11 spot for the final round of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season. After winning his first two elimination rounds, Edwards faced off against newly crowned Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson in the semifinals. The two left the line nearly equal, but before 100 feet out, Edwards suffered severe tire shake and was forced to abandon the run.
Edwards finished the season in sixth place.
Next week: The NASCAR season comes to an end at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Kyle Comes Home Third in Texas (blogbattery.com)
- Phoenix Race Report (joegibbsracing.com)
- Dominant Car, But Pain at the Pump (blogbattery.com)