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Weekend Wrap Up – Phoenix



Blue Jeans Go Green 200

Rain. The first rain to hit the Phoenix area in 70 days happens to come during a NASCAR race. That was the story as the race was shorted to only 168 laps versus the scheduled 200 laps. It didn’t matter because Kyle Busch was dominating the race anyways, it just got it over quicker. How dominating was Busch on Saturday? He led 155 of those 168 laps (92.26%), add to that what he did at Daytona and he’s led almost 69% of all the laps run so far in the Nationwide Series.

For the second straight week, Busch found himself running in the top-15 for the entire duration of the race. Only Matt Kenseth and Trevor Bayne were also able to do that on Sunday, and for the year he is the only driver to do it for the full season.

Another random stat from the weekend was Busch had 58 of the fastest laps run. The next highest total was by Kyle Larson, who had 25 of the fastest lap. Kevin Harvick tallied 19 laps and Matt Kenseth ran 16 of the fastest laps.

With only six Sprint Cup Series regulars in the field, it was no surprise that five of them took the top five positions in the final run down. Josh Wise was the lone outsider finishing 26th running for Curtis Key.

Regan Smith gets a bit of breathing room with a five point lead over Trevor Bayne. The top-10 stayed pretty much the same with Brendan Gaughan (-2) and Mike Wallace (-3) being the two biggest losers and Brian Scott (+2) being the biggest winner of the weekend.

The Profit On CNBC 500

Kevin Harvick scored his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory in Sunday’s race at the Phoenix International Raceway. That puts him in a tie for 28th position on the all-time list with his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch. The win also made him the all-time leader in wins at Phoenix at five, breaking a tie he held with Jimmie Johnson.

It was a weekend of dominating performances, Saturday’s Nationwide Series winner Kyle Busch and Harvick led a combined 379 of a total of 480 laps between the two races. If you’re playing any sort of Pick ‘Em, like the one featured on this site (hint, hint) next Phoenix race Harvick and Busch would be good picks.

Amazing the difference between restrictor plate racing versus what some could call normal racing. In Daytona there were 10,974 green flag passes, whereas at Phoenix there was only 1,396 green flag passes made.

Ryan Newman turned it on late in the going placing as high as fifth before being bounced back to seventh. Kasey Kahne also railed from being a lap down and mid-20s to finishing 11th. Casey Mears scored a 14th place finish. On the flip side Tony Stewart dropped late in the going to 16th and Martin Truex, Jr. struggled to a 22nd place finish.

Phoenix was a trip to forget for drivers like Parker Kligerman, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick. Kligerman had engine issues early and after 226 laps he had to park his car because it was “undrivable.” Busch was biding his time in the top-10 trying to figure out the handling of his car. It first lost a cylinder and then the engine just went on lap 292. Busch thanked his team for the hard work, but pointed out that their driver has “the worst luck” of them all. Patrick just added to her terrible luck at Phoenix by being involved in two incidents, but managed to finish the race running, albeit in 36th position.

Morgan Shepherd set another record as the oldest driver to start and park a race. He lasted 28 laps in the #87 Toyota, prior to parking he was being warned by NASCAR for going too slow. Impressive he made the race, but it’s a shame that cars that were going to try and go the distance got sent home.

Driver standings see Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hold onto his lead by six points over Brad Keselowski. Jeff Gordon, who everyone can’t stop talking about retirement, sits third 10 points behind, Kevin Harvick (-11), and Jimmie Johnson (-12) round out the top-5 positions. I know it is early, but some notables near the top include Casey Mears (11th), Austin Dillon (16th), Reed Sorenson (19th), and Cole Whitt (26th).