Kyle Busch takes Phoenix for 3rd straight Xfinity Series win
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kyle Busch made it 3 for 3 in the Xfinity Series this season, cruising to another victory at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday.
A week after leading all but one lap at Las Vegas, Busch led 175 of 200 laps on the mile oval to win for the record 79th time in the second-tier series.
Busch also posted a dominating win at Atlanta. He didn't race in the opener at Daytona.
In the past three weeks, Busch has led 493 of 563 laps.
"Some people will say I'm a failure for just joining this field," the Sprint Cup regular said. "I get plenty of criticism, whether I'm winning, losing or participating. For me, I don't really pay attention to any of that. I do what I need to do to help support my team."
Busch's biggest obstacle was lapped traffic and the lone competition his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Busch and series rookie Erik Jones raced side-by-side for several laps before their green-flag pitstops with 24 laps left. Busch beat Jones to the line and built as much as a 3-second edge.
When Brad Keselowski finally pitted with 13 laps left, Busch took the lead for good and secured his ninth Xfinity Series win in 20 races at Phoenix.
"A knack for this place, I guess," Busch said. "We've been off a little bit on the (Sprint) Cup side for years, but this year we seem to be a lot better. ... The Xfinity Series program has always been good. I'm not sure why."
Jones finished second, 2.3 seconds back. But his car failed the post-race laser inspection and his team could be fined.
Daniel Suarez, who scraped the wall early, was third. It gave JGR a top-three sweep for the second straight week.
"That pit stop we lost a lot of ground to him," Jones said about Busch. "It just got too tight after that and he ran away."
Busch started third behind Jones and Suarez on the sunny and breezy day and shot to the lead on the sixth lap. He worked his way from fourth to first after three drivers took only two tires on a mid-race pitstop.
Justin Allgaier finished fourth and Chase Elliott fifth.
With Elliott winning at Daytona, a Sprint Cup regular has won every Xfinity race this season.
The series switched to a playoff format similar to the Sprint Cup this season. But Jones and Suarez haven't been able to take advantage of the win-and-you're-in format, not with their teammate dominating.
"They made me run hard all day long," Busch said about his JGR mates. "There's nothing left in this car."
Suarez opened an eight-point lead over Elliott Sadler in the season standings. Sadler finished eighth.