Kyle Busch stayed out during the final caution to gain track position on lap 227 and that savvy move gave him the win at Phoenix International Raceway. It is Busch's second win in his rookie NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Greg Biffle and Kyle...
Kyle Busch stayed out during the final caution to gain track position on lap 227 and that savvy move gave him the win at Phoenix International Raceway. It is Busch's second win in his rookie NASCAR Nextel Cup season.
Greg Biffle was the class of the field leading a race high 189 of 312 laps but just didn't have enough steam for Busch in the end.
"The car is real aero-sensitive and I just got aero-tight behind him," explained Biffle. "When he was behind me I was just too loose to put the gas down, down there in three and four. I just couldn't put anymore wheel to it, but this was a great run for us."
Jeff Gordon was third, "We're working for next year and trying to win races. To come out of here third I am really excited."
Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte completed the top five.
"It wasn't that it was so good," said Stewart of his car. "It just had a good balance. It just needed to be faster. We just kept working with it, but the 16 and the 5 were the class of the field today. We did what we needed to do point wise this weekend."
Biffle was still leading when the second caution fell at lap 82 when Michael Waltrip cut a right front tire on the No. 15 Chevy. The yellow condition brought the leaders to pit road with Biffle getting out first followed by Kevin Harvick and Stewart.
By lap 102, Biffle had pulled out to a 2.3-second advantage on the rest of the competition. But his lead was sliced when the third caution waved at lap 114 when the No. 8 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. cut a tire and hit the wall.
On the restart at lap 119, Biffle remained the leader and easily shot out to a 3.4-second lead over the field. Biffle led until lap 198. He lost the lead when Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler all took two tires on their pit stops to grab spots one through four.
Biffle restarted fifth and had worked his way to second by lap 208 when the fifth caution waved when Scott Riggs hit the wall spinning Jamie McMurray in the process. The leaders stayed out leaving Jeff Gordon in the lead on the restart at lap 216.
Just as Biffle maneuvered around Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 217 a multi-car crash erupted in turn three involving Ken Schrader, Mike Skinner, Jimmy Spencer and Jeff Burton.
The race did not remain green for long, as on lap 227 Jeff Green and Brian Vickers tangled bringing out caution number seven. Biffle and most of the leaders pitted giving the lead to Kyle Busch.
On the restart at lap 230, Biffle was 11th. He had worked the No. 16 Ford back to fifth when the caution fell again on lap 255 when polesitter Hamlin spun-out.
With 57 to go, all the leaders came in for service stops with Scott Wimmer staying out and acquiring the lead.
Busch managed to get past Wimmer at lap 273 closely pursued by Jeff Gordon and Biffle. With 32 to go, Busch and Biffle became in engaged in a two man battle for the lead, swapping spots several times before Busch settled into the lead for good.
Tony Stewart remains the Chase for the Nextel Cup frontrunner. Jimmie Johnson (-52), Carl Edwards (-87), Greg Biffle (-102), Mark Martin (-162), Ryan Newman (-207), Matt Kenseth (-228), Rusty Wallace (-399), Kurt Busch (- 441) and Jeremy Mayfield (-476) complete the top ten.
Only the top four contenders remain mathematically eligible for the championship. Notably, Kurt Busch has been suspended from his duties with the No. 97 team after a reckless driving citation Friday in Phoenix and is no longer a factor in the Chase.
If Stewart finishes ninth or better next weekend at Homestead, regardless of where anyone else finishes, he clinches the trophy.
There were nine cautions for 43 laps and five leaders among 10 drivers.