AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Busch overcame a mid-race gaffe on pit road with a dominating performance, leading 142 laps to win his fifth Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday.
Busch started from the pole and shook off a speeding penalty to pit road with what was easily the fastest car during the 200-lap race around PIR’s mile oval.
He picked up his 52nd Nationwide victory, extending his own record. Busch has won seven times overall at Phoenix.
Brad Keselowski finished second and Justin Allgaier was third. Trevor Bayne finished fourth, followed by Elliott Sadler.
Busch led the first 40 laps, but was sent to the back of the pack – to 23rd – for entering pit road too fast during a caution. He also overshot his pit stall, thinking it was the last one instead of the one before.
“Oh, well, let’s make a race of it,” he said through the radio. “Let’s go get it.”
He did, ripping through the field, up to fifth within a few of laps off the restart, past Matt Kenseth for the lead not long after that.
He dropped to fifth with about 50 laps left when he went into the pits, but was quickly back out front. He wasn’t challenged again.
GATE PLACEMENT: NASCAR will look at the placement of gates at its tracks after a Nationwide Series car crashed through the fence at Daytona and injured more than two dozen fans.
The fans were injured during the 12-car crash last Saturday when pieces of rookie Kyle Larson’s car ripped through the fence, including a section where a gate connects the grandstand and the track.
“I think because of where it came through and having pieces that did get through and it being a gate area, that’s really going to be the focus for us to look at,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President, Racing Operations said Saturday from Phoenix International Raceway. “We’re certainly going to look at fencing in general, but I think that particular area, that it was a gate, did impact it. We know the gate was locked, but does that provide as much stability as the rest of the fencing we believed it did? We’ve now got to look at that impact.”
O’Donnell said two injured fans remain at the hospital, but everyone else has been released.
DIVERSITY TRAINING: Sus-pended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements is being sent to a sports diversity expert by NASCAR after he made insensitive remarks during an interview.
He will have to work with Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.
Clements was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for violating the sanctioning body’s code of conduct for making what O’Donnell said was an “intolerable and insensitive remark” during the course of an interview before last weekend’s Nationwide race at Daytona.
MTV News reported that Clements made a racially insensitive remark to one of MTV’s bloggers during the interview.
Clements issued an apology for his remarks on Facebook earlier this week.
“It’s really unfortunate that he chose to make that decision at that time to use that language,” Sprint Cup driver Dale Earnhardt said. “I don’t like it and there’s no room for that in my life. It’s just unfortunate that had to happen to him. I hope he can get that sorted out. It just looks bad on the sport. One person’s mistake looks bad on a lot of people and looks bad on the sport.”