Kyle Busch dominates for win 11th win at ISM
Kyle Busch certainly knows the way to victory lane at ISM Raceway.
Even after the track was reconfigured.
Busch took the lead shortly after the start of the final stage Saturday and cruised to his second consecutive Xfinity Series victory — and his 11th at the mile-long track just outside Phoenix.
Busch was pushed the first half of the race by Christopher Bell, who won the pole and had been consistently fastest in practice. But everything changed when Stephen Leicht, a car in lapped traffic, blew his engine near the start-finish line and sent a cloud of smoke billowing across the track.
Busch was already ahead of him, but Bell and second-place Justin Allgaier were blinded. Throw in some oil that covered the surface and both of them wound up backing into the wall.
Allgaier managed to finish 14th, one lap down, but Bell’s day was done.
Bell also was dueling Busch in overtime at Las Vegas when he wound up wrecking, making it two straight weeks that he had one of the quickest cars and ended up disappointed.
Ryan Truex finished second in his first start of the season. Reigning series champion Tyler Reddick was third, followed by Cole Custer and Austin Cindric.
NASCAR MONSTER ENERGY CUP
Drivers downplay meeting with officials
Drivers Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell were summoned to the NASCAR hauler after they were involved in a post-qualifying fight before practice Saturday for the Cup Series race at ISM Raceway.
Suarez was upset that McDowell impeded his fastest qualifying lap, stalking him after both were eliminated in the first qualifying session Friday. Suarez then hopped a concrete barrier and scuffled with McDowell, spinning and throwing him to the ground.
It took several crew members to separate them.
Suarez and McDowell downplayed the morning meeting, saying NASCAR officials just wanted to ensure the animosity would not spill over to the track practice or during the race.
The trouble began when drivers waited until the final minutes of the 10-minute qualifying session to take the track. That led to chaos at the end of pit road and plenty of traffic on the race surface, and it was McDowell’s slower car that Suarez claimed impeded his best lap.
McDowell acknowledged getting in the way, but he also took umbrage with Suarez retaliating on the track by getting in his way. McDowell’s qualifying effort was similarly scuttled, both drivers missed the cutoff for the second round of qualifying and they will start deep in the field.
The poor qualifying result also means they will have poor pit stall selections.
Power continues Penske domination with pole
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.
Roger Penske’s teams are off to such a strong start to the motorsports season that his IndyCar group arrived at the season-opening event under pressure to match the performance.
No problem at all.
Will Power and Josef Newgarden swept the front row in qualifying to put a pair of Penske’s Chevrolets out front for today’s race through the downtown streets of St. Petersburg. Not long after the IndyCar race concludes, Penske driver Ryan Blaney will start from the pole in the NASCAR race in Phoenix as the organization seeks its third consecutive Cup victory.
Last weekend, reigning Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin swept the season-opening pair of races in Australia for Penske.
“I think when (Roger) refers to V8 Supercar races, and the last two NASCAR races, the teams are firing on all cylinders,” Power said. “The pressure is on us for us to follow the lead.”
The pole for Power is his eighth in the last 10 years at St. Pete and 55th of his career, second on the all-time list behind Mario Andretti.