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Kyle Busch had a rough start at Daytona, but has done well this week at Phoenix International Speedway.
Kyle Busch throws up his arms in celebration after winning NASCAR's Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
AVONDALE, Ariz. - Kyle Busch spun his wheels at the start/finish line for a few extra rotations, filling the track and grandstand with a fog of white smoke.
After waiting so long to win on the Nationwide Series again, he was going to enjoy it.
Overcoming a mid-race gaffe on pit road with a dominating performance, Busch led 142 laps at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday to end a 24-race Nationwide winless streak.
"It was a phenomenal day for us to get back to Victory Lane, feel the taste of it again," said Busch, whose last Nationwide win was Sept. 9, 2011 at Richmond. "I was almost nervous, feeling like it was my first win even though it was, I think, No. 52 in the series. It's nice to be back."
Busch had a rough 2012 by his own high standards, finishing 13th in the Sprint Cup standings with just one victory despite leading the second-most laps. He also failed to win in 22 Nationwide races and three trucks races.
Busch signed a deal to stay with Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 18 Sprint Cup car this season and agreed to race for the team on the Nationwide circuit.
He bounced back from a rough start at Daytona in the season opener by earning the pole at Phoenix and was clearly the fastest car all day during the 200-lap race.
Despite a penalty for entering pit road too fast, Busch eclipsed 11,000 career laps during the race and picked up his 52nd Nationwide victory, extending his own record.
"He's just gifted behind the wheel, so we're excited about that," JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. "Cup, Nationwide, truck, whatever he races, he's got a gift."
Brad Keselowski finished second and Justin Allgaier overcame body damage on his car from an early wreck to finish third. Trevor Bayne finished fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler.
Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers each led laps, but none of them had a shot at keeping up with Busch.
"It was pretty phenomenal how fast his car was and what he was able to do with it," Keselowski said of Busch.
Busch led the first 40 laps, but was sent to the back of the pack - to 23rd - for entering pit road too fast during a caution. He also overshot his pit stall, thinking it was the last one instead of the one before, but didn't seem bothered once he got back on the track.
"Oh, well, let's make a race of it," he said through the radio. "Let's go get it."
Gate draws scrutiny after Daytona crash
AVONDALE, Ariz. - NASCAR will look at the placement of gates at its tracks after a Nationwide Series car crashed through the fence at the Daytona 500 and injured more than two dozen fans.
Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, said on Saturday that the gate where rookie Kyle Larson's car hit the fence was locked, but that pieces of the car still went through the fence.
He said the safety elements of Larson's car appeared to work, but the section that the engine is tethered to sheared off and sent pieces of the car flying into the stands.
O'Donnell also said two of the injured fans are still at the hospital.
Clements sent to psychologist
AVONDALE, Ariz. - NASCAR is sending suspended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements to a sports diversity expert after he made insensitive remarks during an interview.
Clements was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for violating the sanctioning body's code of conduct for making what senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell said was an "intolerable and insensitive remark."
MTV News reported that Clements made a racially insensitive remark to one of MTV's bloggers during the interview.
Clements issued an apology on Facebook.
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