Busch dominated the Dollar General 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at PIR on Saturday from behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota, the same Toyota that was campaigned by Kyle Busch Motorsports. But during the recent offseason, Busch made a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing to return to JGR entries in Nationwide Series and took his No. 54 with him. The win was Busch’s fifth in Nationwide competition at PIR.
Busch started from the pole and led the first 40 laps of the 200 lap race before issues on pit road that included overshooting his pit stall and then getting caught speeding sent him back to 23rd for a restart. He eventually made his way back to the front and only relinquished the lead during a later caution when he headed down pit road while a handful of other drivers stayed out.
“We did the best we needed to do (getting back up through the field). “I put the car in a couple spots that I felt like I should take right then and there — just to get up towards the front so I didn’t get stuck or behind in traffic. The car was phenomenal.”
Two other Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth, also ran near the front with Busch for much of the race, often given JGR the top-three spots in the running order, especially early on.
Kenseth eventually lost positions when his car’s handling went away, and Vickers wound up with a damaged race car that required multiple pit stops for repairs late in the race when he got sandwiched between the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne and a lap car. Kenseth wound up finishing eighth, and Vickers dropped outside the top-10.
But Busch wasn’t the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver to finish in the top-five. Elliott Sadler made his way into the top-five of the running order in the late-going to finish fifth.
Brad Keselowski was second, Justin Allgaier finished third and Bayne was fourth. Austin Dillon finished sixth.
“I thought off of practice that we were gonna have a miserable day, but it was a pleasant surprise we were able to find a little bit of speed and get our car to where we could at least have a respectable day,” Keselowski said. “I thought we might even have a little bit more there if we would have caught the right breaks, but we did catch some good breaks to get a second, but we didn’t have anywhere near the speed that the 54 car did.”
Sam Hornish Jr., the series points leader heading into the race, was caught up in an on-track incident on lap two and then spun later in the race but still came out of Phoenix with a seventh-place finish.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR