Busch dominates to win 11th Xfinity race at ISM Raceway
By DAVE SKRETTA
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) 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.
"If I'm allowed to race, I'm going to enter a race and try to go out there and win," said Busch, whose victories at Las Vegas and now this weekend give him 198 in NASCAR's top three series.
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.
"Christopher was certainly going to give me a run for our money," Busch said. "I hate that he got caught up in that mess. It was going to be a really fun run to the end there."
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.
"I saw him blow up so I knew I was in trouble," Bell said. "I saw (Allgaier) get sideways, and by the time I had entered the smoke wall and I knew I was sliding, I just couldn't see anything. I didn't know where I was. Backed her into the wall."
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.
"We got the car pretty good. We weren't bad there at the end," Custer said. " It's just every single restart I gave up too many stops and couldn't get it going very good."
MORE ON TRUEX'S TRIP
After losing his ride with Kauling Motorsports last season, Truex hopped into the No. 8 for JR Motorsports for the first time this season. And despite an odd ignition problem - "I don't know what happened there," he said - Truex used the long green-flag run to finish second.
It matched the best finish of his Xfinity career.
"I guess it's good when you lose to Kyle," he said. "I just got us behind at the start. We were too free. I couldn't run anywhere on the track. We worked hard all day to keep it up."
REDDICK'S SOLID RIDE
After finishing sixth at ISM Raceway last fall, Reddick improved once more at a track that has always given him fits. He started second and wound up finishing third.
"I honestly couldn't give us a good sense of direction in practice," he said. "Hopefully I can figure out what I need to do to break through and contender there at the end."
Busch will be back in the No. 18 car next weekend when the Xfinity Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in California for the fifth race in the 33-race schedule.
More AP IndyCar coverage: https://apnews.com/IndyCar
Updated March 9, 2019