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Busch Wins In Arizona; Final Four Is Set

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2018

Kyle Busch won his eighth race of the season and heads to season-finale with momentum. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Next week in the humid, swampy darkness of Homestead-Miami Speedway, three drivers will be gunning for their second NASCAR Cup Series championship and one other will be going for his first.

That was all determined by an ugly race Sunday near Phoenix, Ariz.

Kyle Busch moved to the lead for a final time with 36 laps to go, survived a couple of late restarts, and went on to win Sunday’s 500 kilometer Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

The victory secured the Joe Gibbs Racing driver a berth in next weekend’s four-driver, season-ending, championship-deciding race in South Florida.

“I didn’t think we were the best car,” he said, “but we survived and we did what we needed to do today. It’s just about getting to next week and once we were locked in, it was ‘all  bets are off and it’s time to go.’ 

“I certainly would like to think so,” Busch, who won for the eighth time in 2018, said when asked if he felt he could add a second career championship at Homestead. “What a day. What a race.”

Joining him in the championship event as a result of the sunny afternoon of racing near Phoenix were defending series champion Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (who finished 14th Sunday) and Kevin Harvick (fifth) of Stewart-Haas Racing.

Both were, along with Busch, members of the so-called Big Three of 2018 as they have won 20 of 35 races.

The win gives Busch a bit of momentum heading into the season finale.

“I think it was just important to prove to ourselves that we’re firing on all cylinders,” his crew chief, Adam Stevens said. “We didn’t have the best weekend last week (in Texas, where Busch finished 17th), we overcame some adversity this week and it kind of shows what we got.”

Joey Logano of Team Penske started the day with his playoff berth in hand as a result of winning at Martinsville two weeks ago.

Finishing second Sunday was non-contender Brad Keselowski of Team Penske, while Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson took third.

The final 45 laps loomed large in the fight to earn berths in the final four.

On a restart with 44 laps remaining, Kurt Busch of SHR, just a point in front of Harvick in the fight for the final berth, wrecked to end his shot at a second career championship.

Also involved in the wreck was contender Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports. Both Busch and Elliott had led double-digits laps at ISM and had shots at advancing.

“Got pinned on the outside wall (by a loose Denny Hamlin),” said Kurt Busch, who added that he had one of his fastest-ever cars at ISM. “Denny came out of nowhere and cleaned us out.”

Elliott, son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott who was penalized for speeding before the incident, said, “Yeah, don’t speed before that and you don’t get caught back there in the back. It was completely my fault and when you make mistakes like that, you get put behind and that’s when you get wrecked. So, I had a pretty good NAPA Chevy, especially on the long runs. We could run with those guys. I couldn’t get going quite as good as I wanted to. But if you stay away from that penalty (speeding on pit road) you never know. I hate it, but we’ll try to get a win next week.”

Both Harvick and Truex had to sweat things out as they attempted to become eligible to win second career championships.

Harvick blew a tire in the first stage and fell a lap off the pace.

“We were in big trouble when we had the flat tire,” he said. “The car never drove quite as good after it dragged the ground all the way around the race track.”

Truex simply had a slow race car most of the day.

(This story will be updated shortly)

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – 31st Annual Can-Am 500

ISM Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Sunday, November 11, 2018

  1. (6)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 312.
  2. (12)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 312.
  3. (8)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 312.
  4. (18)  Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 312.
  5. (1)  Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 312.
  6. (21)  Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 312.
  7. (17)  Matt Kenseth, Ford, 312.
  8. (15)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 312.
  9. (19)  William Byron #, Chevrolet, 312.
  10. (30)  Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 312.
  11. (22)  Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 312.
  12. (24)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 312.
  13. (10)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312.
  14. (13)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 312.
  15. (20)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 312.
  16. (23)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 311.
  17. (7)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 310.
  18. (25)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 310.
  19. (28)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 310.
  20. (31)  David Ragan, Ford, 310.
  21. (27)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 310.
  22. (29)  Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 310.
  23. (2)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 309.
  24. (33)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 309.
  25. (34)  Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 309.
  26. (32)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 308.
  27. (38)  DJ Kennington(i), Chevrolet, 306.
  28. (39)  Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 306.
  29. (11)  Paul Menard, Ford, 303.
  30. (5)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 285.
  31. (36)  Tanner Berryhill, Toyota, Accident, 283.
  32. (14)  Kurt Busch (P), Ford, Accident, 272.
  33. (3)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 262.
  34. (4)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, Radiator, 237.
  35. (16)  Clint Bowyer (P), Ford, Accident, 133.
  36. (26)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, Accident, 96.
  37. (9)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, Accident, 95.
  38. (35)  JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, Oil Leak, 88.
  39. (37)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Oil Leak, 40.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  98.354 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 10 Mins, 20 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.501 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 61 laps.

Lead Changes:  17 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick (P) 1-72;C. Elliott (P) 73-78;R. Blaney 79;C. Elliott (P) 80-83;K. Busch (P) 84-135;R. Blaney 136;M. Truex Jr. (P) 137-143;K. Busch (P) 144-224;C. Elliott (P) 225-230;R. Blaney 231;B. Keselowski 232-243;M. Truex Jr. (P) 244;B. Keselowski 245-264;K. Harvick (P) 265;E. Jones 266-276;K. Busch (P) 277-288;R. Newman 289;K. Busch (P) 290-312.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch (P) 3 times for 116 laps; Kevin Harvick (P) 2 times for 73 laps; Kurt Busch (P) 1 time for 52 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 32 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 3 times for 16 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 11 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 2 times for 8 laps; Ryan Blaney 3 times for 3 laps; Ryan Newman 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,12,11,41,2,42,18,20,88,3

Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,2,78,4,42,3,9,12,24,10

 

–30–

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2018
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