AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Busch was fastest out of the pits on the opening stop and on the track the rest of the night, leading the final 107 laps to win a wreck-filled NASCAR trucks race at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday.
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 getting challenged after taking the lead in the 150-lap race around Phoenix’s mile-long oval.
Pole sitter Clint Bowyer finished second and Ron Hornaday was third in the first winter trucks race at Phoenix in 11 years.
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.
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.
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.
Waltrip was replaced in Phoenix by Dusty Davis, who didn’t get a chance to finish his first trucks race, taken out on Lap 113 when defending series champion Todd Bodine got spun out.