Kyle Busch completed the weekend sweep at ISM Raceway with a dominating win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500.
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took the lead for the final time with 15 laps to go, tucking inside polewinner Ryan Blaney in Turns 3 and 4 and battling for a full lap before clearing the Team Penske No. 12 Ford — and then just motoring away.
Busch was unchallenged to the checkered flag, carefully managing both the gap to second place and his fuel mileage.
“I knew before we went green with [74 laps] to go that we were going to be right on the verge. You gotta race hard first and then worry about fuel,” said Busch. “But once I got there, once I got to Blaney, I was able to kind of save a little bit and try to take care of my tires for the rest of the traffic that we had to get through — and make sure I had enough fuel to make it to the end.
“This makes last week feel so much stupider. Ugh. Man, I wish we could have swept last week, too — that would have been pretty awesome, to start out this year with two weekend sweeps in a row!
“But we’ll just take what we got today at ISM Raceway.”
Busch’s JGR Toyota teammate Martin Truex Jr. finished second, taking the runner-up spot from Blaney with a few laps to go. Blaney finished third with Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) and Denny Hamlin (JGR Toyota) rounding out the top five.
Blaney, who led 94 laps, was the Stage 1 winner.
“Honestly, we hung on better there on two tires than I thought we would,” said the Team Penske driver. “Fired off really good and got by Aric [Almirola]; then we gapped Kyle a little bit. I was kind of riding along, trying to save tires, save gas — they were telling me we were really close on gas. I think [Kyle] was kind of riding back there, too — I think they knew what situation I was in.
“After getting passed for the lead, it was just full-on fuel-save mode,” Blaney continued. “It was a pretty good recovery: We had to come back in for a wheel that was going to be loose. Two tires was the right call; I don’t think we would have run third if it wasn’t for that.
“A shame we couldn’t get MoneyLion and Ford the win, but it was a good weekend after the start of the year we’ve had. [Up front] is where this team deserves to run. Hopefully, we can just keep moving forward.”
With the victory, Busch followed up on his Saturday Xfinity Series feat and made it two straight at ISM following a Cup Series win at the track last fall. He led 177 of 312 laps while also winning Stage 2. And with his two wins this weekend in Phoenix, Busch’s tally now sits at 199 across all three NASCAR national series.
“[200 wins] is not for me to worry about, it’s for everybody else to discuss and talk about and argue over and debate,” said Busch. “For myself and the career that I’ve had — I’ve been fortunate to be with a lot of great people and a lot of great sponsors. And those that stick around me like Joe Gibbs and M&M’s and Skittles and Snickers and Interstate Batteries — everybody that has always been behind me is what it’s all about for me, that gets me going each and every weekend.
“To work with my guys and take them to victory lane is what it’s all about.”
Filling out the top 10 were Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano.
Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) finished 14th after being penalized on the start for beating pole-sitter Blaney to the start/finish line. Elliott also spun inside the final 100 laps but kept the No. 9 car off the wall.