Kyle Busch Dominates To Win At Phoenix; Sadler, Suarez, Allgaier And Jones Advance To Championship 4by Camille Jones November 13, 2016 0 comments
AVONDALE, Ariz.– Kyle Busch claimed the victory in the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, and four drivers punched their ticket to the Championship 4 round of the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.
Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry, started on the pole for Saturday night’s 200-lap event and led 190 laps before capturing his 86th career series victory and 10th win of the season.
“It means a lot (to win). That’s what we set out to do tonight and we’ve been really fast here at Phoenix,” said Busch in Victory Lane. “We’ve had some great race cars and Chris Gayle (crew chief) and all these guys do such a great job each and every week preparing these things and it’s fun to win here. We appreciate XFINITY and everything that they do for the NASCAR Series here and all the fans and all their support, but this NOS Energy Drink Camry was awesome tonight. I mean, I just can’t say enough. We adjusted on it on some pit stops and tried to make it a little bit better there, but this Toyota Camry was really, really fast, so we didn’t have to do much to it and great Joe Gibbs Racing power under the hood.”
Austin Dillon finished in the second position in his No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet Camaro. He earned his 15th top-10 finish of the season and his seventh top-10 finish in nine races at Phoenix International Raceway.
While making his only start of the season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his No. 60 SunnyD Ford Mustang to a third place finish. In seven races in the series at the one-mile oval, he has finished in the top-10 every time.
Having to give up position in the final laps as he battled to save fuel, Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet, knew his only goal was to secure his spot in the Championship 4 round of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. After successfully saving enough fuel to eventually finish in the fourth position, Allgaier became the highest-finishing Chase contender and will advance, where he will have the chance to race for a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Joining Allgaier in his fight for the championship trophy will be the fifth place finisher on Saturday night, Daniel Suarez. Suarez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota, carries two victories of the season with him into the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and he currently leads the point standings.
“I think we can win for sure,” Suarez said. “We’re strong everywhere we go. We just need to be a little bit stronger. That’s it. This weekend we were good, but I feel like we were maybe one step behind in the last couple rounds. In the first part of the race, we were a little better. We go home, we learn from today and tonight and move to the next one.”
Also making it into the Championship 4 includes Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Hisense Toyota, who has four victories in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series. Jones finished in the 10th position on Saturday, but he looks to return to his winning ways in the most important race of the season.
“I like Homestead,” Jones said. “It’s nice. I have one race under my belt there in a XFINITY car there last year and I’ll take that hopefully into this race, so we’ll see how it all plays out, but it’s definitely a tough race. It’s a tough track running right up against the wall all night. We’ll see how it all plays out.”
The final spot in the Championship 4 was earned by Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Chevrolet. Sadler was able to finish in the 13th position, enough to secure his spot in the Chase; However, following the race it was found that his crew did not have all of the lugnuts on his car secure. NASCAR followed up on the infraction with by suspending his crew chief for the final race of the season.
Failing to advance to the final round of the Chase were Blake Koch, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brendan Gaughan.
Gaughan’s chances at racing for the championship were crushed on lap 136 when a tire blew out and his No. 62 South Point Chevrolet took a hard hit into the outside wall. Gaughan’s team was stretching his fuel to the end in the hopes of capturing the victory and move on to the final round of the Chase, but due to the tire failure, he will have to wait until the 2017 season to race for a series title.
Also suffering a similar fate, Darrell Wallace Jr., will not have a chance to race for the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship in his No. 6 Leidos Ford. On lap 150, Wallace went diving to the bottom lane beneath fellow Chase contender Blake Koch, who made a sudden dive to the inside and sent Wallace sailing into the inside wall on the frontstretch with a heavy impact. The red flag was waved for about 10 minutes and 34 seconds before the drivers fired up their cars again.
Wallace had been racing with a heavy heart after the loss of his grandmother earlier in the week and was emotional in his post-incident interview. Koch offered his genuine apology following the event, saying that he did not know Wallace had moved to the inside of his car.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series races into their final event of the 2016 season next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, November 19. The entire field will battle for the race victory, but only the Championship 4 will have a chance at taking home the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship trophy. Live race coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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