Kyle Busch earned his 198th career NASCAR sanctioned victory in dominating fashion on Saturday. Busch, took his No. 18 Toyota to victory lane in the fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series race of the 2019 season. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver cycled to the lead past the hallway mark and never looked back en route to his 94th career series victory.
Last week, Busch took the victory in his hometown of Las Vegas. This week, he went 2-for-2 on the year as well on the west coast swing in leading 116 of the 200 laps in Saturday’s iK9 Service Dog 200 at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix.
Kyle Busch during the NASCAR Xfinity Series iK9 Service Dog 200 at ISM Raceway on March 9, 2019 in Avondale, Arizona.
No one had anything for Busch all day. This was the eight time in the last nine races at Phoenix that Busch led at least 100 laps. He now has 11 wins in 24 XFINITY Series starts on the 1.015-mile Arizona oval and eight top two finishes in his last nine XFINITY Series Phoenix starts. His worst finish in that time frame is third.
Ryan Truex finished runner-up in his No. 8 Chevrolet. It was Truex’s first start of the year for JR Motorsports as his next race will come in July at Kentucky.
Last year’s season champion Tyler Reddick finished third in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Reddick, now has three straight top 10 finishes at Phoenix and three top 10’s in four tries this season as well.
Cole Custer was fourth in his No. 00 Ford for his fourth consecutive top eight finishes in the Arizona desert while Austin Cindric rounded out the top five in his No. 22 Ford. That’s three top 10’s in four Phoenix starts for the Team Penske driver.
The race was fairly clean with just four cautions for 35 laps. Two of those were for stage breaks. The only yellow in the second half of the event came when Stephen Leicht dropped a ton of oil causing front runners Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier to crash as a result.
Here are a few takeaways.
Ryan Sieg and Michael Annett Off To Hot Starts
Ryan Sieg and Michael Annett are off to the best starts of their careers. Sieg, has never scored more than three top 10 finishes in any one season and already has three in the first four races of 2019. He brought his No. 39 Chevrolet home 10th in Saturday’s race at Phoenix for his second straight. He finished sixth last week in Las Vegas.
In the season opener at Daytona, Sieg earned a fourth place result. In fact, his worst finish all year was 11th in the second event in Atlanta.
That has Sieg all the way up to a tie with Justin Allgaier for seventh in the standings. With how few drivers are going to points in the series this year, he has a great shot at making the playoffs. Currently, Sieg holds a 15 point lead over the bubble as it likely be a race between 13 drivers for 12 spots.
Annett, is off to a hot start too. He won his first career NASCAR race at Daytona which netted him a guaranteed playoff spot. Right now, he’s accumulated enough points to sit fifth after four races. Annett, has three top eight finishes in four tries in his No. 1 Chevrolet with a worst finish of the season coming at Atlanta in a 12th place effort.
Brandon Jones Quietly Getting The Job Done
After four races, everyone is talking about the dominance of Kyle Busch already. If not for Busch, it’s his teammate Christopher Bell. Between them, they’ve led 62-percent of the overall laps run in 2019 (431 of 696). But, their teammate of Brandon Jones is being overlooked too.
Yes, Jones has only led nine laps of his own, but he’s off to a hot start in his No. 19 Toyota. The Georgia native has three top seven finishes in four tries this year. He was third in the season opener at Daytona, fourth the next week in Atlanta and seventh on Saturday in Phoenix. Last week in Las Vegas, he was battling for a spot in the top 10 before being crashed out in by Cole Custer.
The way things are going, Jones can end up in victory lane this season too.
Chevy’s Didn’t Win But Are Strong
Chevy drivers may have led 156 laps this year but they only have one win in four starts. That came at Daytona with Michael Annett. The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s have dominated since though in taking the last three victories.
Despite not winning on Saturday in Phoenix and only leading 1 of 200 laps, Chevy drivers still took home 13 of the top 18 finishers. In the current points standings, Chevy had seven drivers in the top 10.
They’re going to remain factors all year.