Skittles soared across victory lane as the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team celebrated a weekend sweep at ISM Raceway in the TicketGuardian 500.
On Sunday, Kyle Busch earned his 3rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in Arizona by passing polesitter, Ryan Blaney with 15 laps to go. Busch also took the checkereds on Saturday in the Xfinity Series iK9 Service Dog 200, which marked Busch’s 11th career Xfinity Series win at ISM Raceway. The 33-year-old told Sports360AZ in victory lane he’d rather have 11 Cup wins at the track. He got one Cup win closer and was certainly satisfied on Sunday.
“It’s certainly been a lot of fun and it’s cool to get back to victory lane here to days in a row,” Busch told Sports360AZ in victory lane. “Anytime you’re able to go to a race track and have success, I’ve wanted all of them. Especially with the amount of times being able to come to Phoenix and having opportunities to win it’s been fun and look forward to it every time.”
Busch collected his 199th career win between NASCAR’s three national touring series, now only one race behind Richard Petty’s record of 200 career wins, all coming in the Cup Series. Claiming victory on Sunday locked Busch into the NASCAR Playoffs, allowing him to be more aggressive over the next few months to collect more wins in 2019 before the beginning of the playoffs.
That’s a weekend sweep at @ISMRaceway for the man they call Rowdy Busch #NASCAR #TicketGuardian500 #NASCARGoesWest pic.twitter.com/BOdTPOHy8F
— Devon Henry (@devonhenry77) March 10, 2019
JGR teammate, Martin Truex Jr. battled his way to a second-place position, followed by Blaney, Aric Almirola, and 2019 Daytona 500 champion, Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5.
Four races have passed thus far in the 2019 NASCAR season bringing four different rules packages, four different tracks, and four different winners. Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch are the only drivers locked into the NASCAR Playoffs. Kevin Harvick is the highest in the points standings without a win.
NASCAR heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. next weekend where Busch will have two opportunities to tie Petty’s all-time wins record racing in both the Xfinity and Cup Series. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending Cup winner at Auto Club Speedway.
Check out who’s starting P1 for the #TicketGuardian500! #NASCAR #NASCARGoesWest pic.twitter.com/BGzx0K3RMw
— Devon Henry (@devonhenry77) March 8, 2019
Stage one fell into the hands of polesitter, Ryan Blaney, following pit strategy at the end of the stage. Second place qualifier, Chase Elliot took the lead in the opening laps but was penalized for beating the leader to the start line.
The second stage was completely dominated by Kyle Busch, leading from start to finish. Strategy brought Clint Bowyer into second place in the stage when it ended under caution due to Tucson native, Alex Bowman blowing out a tire.
The final stage was unpredictable and full of cautions. Every yellow flag brought a new group of cars to pit road servicing four, two, or even no tires shaking up the race order. The rotation of pitting pulled Ryan Blaney back out front until Busch tracked him down and solidified his victory with 15 laps remaining.
Arizona natives Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell both suffered separate incidents ending their days in the 35th and 36th positions. Mexico native, Daniel Suarez, finished 23rd.
NASCAR will return to ISM Raceway for the semi-final round of the NASCAR Playoffs on November 8, 9, 10.
The Gander Outdoor Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will eliminate the final set of drivers to determine the four teams who will fight for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Also, the K&N Pro Series West will compete in their championship race.