Kyle Busch dominant in win
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A quick pit stop and some key changes made Kyle Busch a winner with a new truck and a new bride.
Fastest out of the pits on the opening stop -- and on the track the rest of the night after a few adjustments -- Busch led the final 107 laps in the first race in his new ride to win a wreck-filled NASCAR trucks race at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday.
"We made some good changes to our Toyota to where it would pick up some speed and we could really hustle through the corners," said Busch, who was married in the offseason. "So these guys did a great job for me."
NASCAR voted in the offseason that drivers must declare which series they're racing for a championship to prevent Sprint Cup drivers from chasing Nationwide and trucks series titles.
Michael Waltrip won the opener at Daytona and Busch made it two straight for Sprint Cup drivers in trucks, rarely challenged after taking the lead from Clint Bowyer in the 150-lap race around Phoenix's mile-long oval.
"It's great for our sport to have a Kyle Busch come run in trucks or Nationwide," said Ron Hornaday, who finished third. "It just shows you how much you have to work on your equipment or your driving style. Tonight, we just flat got beat."
Bowyer dominated at Phoenix last fall, leading 97 laps in his first trucks race in three years. He was fast again in qualifying, setting a track record at 133.949 mph, and led the first 43 laps under the lights on Friday night.
A pit stop cost him the spot up front.
The caution came out on Lap 43 after Chase Mattioli slid up into the wall, sending the trucks in for the first round of pit stops. Busch, who won a series-high eight races in 13 starts last season, barely beat Bowyer at the line coming out and maintained the lead even after the race got ugly over the final 50 laps.
Relatively clean through the first 100 laps, the race bogged down after a series of wrecks and spinouts sent the yellow flag flying seemingly every other lap, with six of the race's eight cautions coming in a 32-lap stretch.
Busch was fastest off the green on each of the restarts and kept Bowyer and Hornaday well back in his mirror for the rest of the way for his 25th win in 87 career trucks starts -- the fastest to reach that mark in any of NASCAR's top three series.
"He always is the guy to beat in this series," Bowyer said of Busch. "We were fortunate enough to beat him in that truck in the fall last year, but I knew we lost the lead there, it was just like last year: He couldn't pass me and I couldn't do nothing with him."
Waltrip won the season-opening truck race for Vision Aviation Racing on the 10-year anniversary of his win at the Daytona 500, the same year Dale Earnhardt died. Waltrip's team was later penalized by NASCAR for driving the final few laps with a broken spoiler, though he wasn't docked any points since he had declared for the Sprint Cup season series title.
Bodine's spinout or none of the other wipeouts were enough to stop Busch, who won his 87th NASCAR national series win, tying Jeff Gordon for sixth all-time -- in a new truck, no less.
"We were really exciting there a few weeks ago the day we went to set it up, it's just one of those trucks where everything fits and goes together the way, and it makes you happy because they worked so hard," crew chief Eric Phillips said. "When we unloaded today, it was fast right out of the truck."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press