Camry driver Kyle Busch won Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Phoenix International Raceway.
The victory was his first of 2011, 33rd with Toyota and 44th in the NNS.
The Las Vegas-native earned the 50th pole for Toyota earlier in the day on Saturday.
Busch led all 200 laps, marking the first time in a national series a driver has led the entire race since Dale Earnhardt Jr. led all laps in the July 4, 2003 NNS race at Daytona International Speedway.
Camry drivers Joey Logano (sixth), Brian Scott (ninth) and Kenny Wallace (10th) also earned top-10 finishes.
Ryan Truex (14th), Michael Annett (19th) and Steve Wallace (30th) were also in the 200-mile race around the one- mile oval.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st Did you think Carl Edwards was going to take this win away from you? “There at the end I got a little worried. First person I have to thank is Carl Edwards for racing me clean. He raced me hard, but raced me clean. I gave him as much room as I could there. My car, I don’t know why, but the last couple changes it just didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and these guys brought an awesome Interstate Batteries Camry here to begin with. There wasn’t much work we needed to do on it. Man, to lead that many laps and to come out of here with a win. It feels really, really good and I love coming out to the west coast and Phoenix. Thanks to the rest of our partners. All the guys that worked on this — I said a ‘hybrid’ Camry because it has Interstate on the hood. It’s fun to run in this Nationwide Series and to run in front of these fans here in Phoenix. It’s fun! There was a battle down there at the end and I don’t know how I held him off but I kept running as hard as I could knowing that he was going to give me a heck of a fight. He doesn’t go down easy – you can’t wear him out – he’s an ironman. It was a good race for us.”
Did knowing how Carl Edwards’ car was working help you win the race? “It helped a little bit. I was just trying to figure out how Carl (Edwards) was getting better because he kept keeping up with us more and more as the race progressed there. I wanted to know what changes he was making to his car that made him better. I could understand more about what I needed to make my car there. They were tightening up so I thought maybe if I tighten up mine it would get better. It killed the turn ability of the thing through the middle of the corner and it was still loose. Now your cranked full-lock left and the back is sliding out from underneath you and it was a handful. You can’t go through the corner very fast, especially when you kind of tuck underneath the back of me, he got me a little loose. We held on and made it to victory lane. Two for two so far this weekend.”
Do you think your fans will need to buy some brooms? “I hope so, man. That’s the plan. I hope Carl (Edwards) didn’t save everything he had for tomorrow. I know I let him sit on the pole so he could speak to the fans in the morning during driver intros. We were joking about that earlier. Our Combos Camry is good, I’ll let you know in about 24 hours.”
Have you ever had such a dominant race car? “I have before but sometimes you don’t get to lead every single lap. There’s guys that stay out on pit road or something like that. I think missed leading three laps at ORP (Indianapolis) a couple years ago or something. All in all, this was such a phenomenal day with this Camry. This thing was phenomenal.”
Did you have any idea you’d be the first driver to lead flag-to-flag since 2003? “I knew that after the first run, it was such a long run that nobody stayed out. Then the second run it was such a long run that everybody pitted again and same thing. I was like, ‘Man, so far I’ve led every lap of this thing,’ and it came down towards the end of the race there and Carl (Edwards) was alongside me and he was trying to pass me and I was like, ‘Man, just beat him back to the start-finish line, man just beat him back to the start-finish line.’ I was just trying to hold on for as long as I could. Finally, it seemed like it was about 15 laps or so that his stuff would just start falling off enough where we could start clicking back away and get away from him a little bit. I knew if I could just make it to that threshold, that I thought we’d be okay. Fortunately we got there. When it came down to the end of the race I knew it was every lap. It was pretty cool, I love doing that stuff and being where you’re the guy to beat. I wish it would be tomorrow — that would be an awfully boring race probably. Hopefully there’s still enough going on behind us that there’s plenty of action there. The last time I remembered, I didn’t remember Dale Jr.’s (Earnhardt) deal, but the last time I remembered was Jeff Burton at New Hampshire did it. That was the last time I remembered in a Cup car.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) Was this a perfect race for you since you led all the laps? “It would seem as though it was the perfect race, but unfortunately no, it’s not. There were some mistakes made on my part. You’re going to have little mistakes missing a line or doing this, doing that throughout the event. I think everything went well with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and I — the conversations we had and talks we were talking about the adjustments and things we tried to make. Our thought processes were that it was going to be the right decisions so that’s why we did them. I don’t know that the adjustment there at the end of the race was good. There was a couple times that I slipped and kind of screwed up that really got Carl (Edwards) closer to me and then got me on the inside of me. I was trying like heck to keep him off of me. I did rebound from those, so you could say you made up a little bit for what you lost. All in all, it was a really good day. It’s not that far from perfect.”
Were you surprised Carl Edwards raced you clean at the end of the race? “No, if you would have asked him (Carl Edwards) the right question, he would say he owes me one. (Media member: ‘He did say that.’) Did he, alright so I guess I still owe him one. I thought we’d be over that by now. Carl, you never know with him and he can surprise you sometimes but with both of us having a really good day like that, it’s probably not necessarily worth it and especially if it comes down to where the Chase is coming near and you’re close and not yet in or if it’s a championship time and you have a shot for the championship or you don’t. He’ll save it. It’s like an elephant, we all never forget. I loved racing with Carl, have and always have. Today was no different. I felt confident that we could race each other hard, race each other clean. I tried to give him room. He did a nice job at holding his line and everything. There were a couple times when he got right up underneath the back of me and I wasn’t sure how close he was. I couldn’t feel the back end of the car at all. I was trying to steer it out and get through the loose conditions that he was causing me. I don’t think he ever touched me so it was good. I appreciated it. I let him know, well I didn’t let him know, I gestured to him so I think he gets the idea.”
JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How was the race from your view? “When we unloaded we had a fast race car. Just all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing have been working extremely hard this winter. Our four races last year with this new car were not terrible, but they weren’t spectacular, they weren’t what we needed and the guys really dug their heels in and worked hard over the winter. It was fun to unload and have a fast race car. The pit crew was flawless. Kyle (Busch) did a good job in qualifying to get us that No. 1 pit stall — that’s always a bonus here because track position is so important. The pit crew did a nice job all day. The adjustments were going our way. This is the second time now I’ve made this particular adjustment on this new car and it has done exactly the opposite of what I thought it would do. We did it last year at Charlotte, had a good race car and made an adjustment and gestured right out of the ball park. We’re learning.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 SportClips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 6th How was your race? “We were just so, so the whole day. We never had anything close for the front runners up there. It seemed like ever since we unloaded the balance was always close, we just never had any speed in the car. We fought that the whole time we were here, even during the race. We’d get the balance pretty close to see other cars around me and I’m pretty good, I just didn’t have speed and couldn’t go anywhere. I don’t know how to fix that, we’ll have to go back and look at that.”
How has it been working with your new crew chief Adam Stevens? “I think he did a good job. Me and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) have worked together on the Cup side. I feel like we have the chemistry between each other. The way we worked together was fine, we have to figure out how to make this car faster than anything else.”
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 9th How was your race? “Unfortunately we fell back and then came forward when all you want to do is go forward all day in a race. Our guys did a good job. We didn’t start the race like we wanted, fighting some things and made some adjustments and went the wrong way. We got right back on track, tuned in our No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota and started coming back to the front. It looked like we were going to finish seventh and just lost it going into (turn) three with a couple laps to go. It cost us a couple spots, unfortunately. The guys deserve a seventh-place finish and instead we got ninth. At least we finished in the top-10. We’re beginning to rebound from Daytona and that’s what we needed to do. All in all, not a terrible day, we’ll just move forward and go to Vegas.”
How has it been getting to know your new Joe Gibbs Racing team? “I have a great group of guys, I like them a lot. I think that we’re going to have a lot of success throughout the year. We’re still learning some things and figuring some things out. I think we’ll just keep getting better. For our second race, where we should have been seventh is not all that bad. We’ll just move on and keep getting better as a team.”
KENNY WALLACE, No. 09 Family Farmers Toyota Camry, RAB Racing with Brack Maggard Finishing Position: 10th How happy are you with a 10th-place finish? “It was a really good race for our new Toyota Camry team. We’re thrilled to death with 10th. Maybe we could have finished a little bit better. We had a little hiccup on the last pit stop, looks like we should have finished eighth, but we got 10th and we’re all happy with that. The reason I’m happy with it is because we’re brand new. We’re a brand new Toyota team. We were running eighth or ninth at Daytona, got wrecked. It seems to me like we’re a solid top-10 team and just have to keep rolling and put ourselves in position to win a race this year.”
RYAN TRUEX, No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry, Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Finishing Position: 14th
MICHAEL ANNETT, No. 62 Pilot Travel Centers/Flying J Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing Finishing Position: 19th
STEVE WALLACE, No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Rusty Wallace Racing Finishing Position: 30th