The date in the desert on Friday night for the NASCAR Nationwide series headed to Phoenix International Raceway for the Bashas Supermarkets 200.
Check out the winners and losers.
If Kyle Busch had not won the race, he would have been much lower on the list. Instead, his charge to the front and to victory lane landed him atop this list and in victory lane. Getting to victory lane was not easy for Busch, but once again he got it done.
Busch had the best car on track on Friday night. The race took a turn when on a restart Busch did not go, which led to a multi car chain reaction crash. Busch was then told he was second lining up next to Brad Keselowski, which infuriated him. On the ensuing restart, Busch beat the leader to the line; NASCAR issued him a penalty of a pass through penalty under green.
A late caution was exactly what this team needed. Busch made his way to the lead and pulled away. For Busch, there is no bad track. At Texas Motor Speedway, Busch has won the last four events at the track. With an average finish of sixth, if you want to win at Texas, you will have to beat Busch.
There is one driver who is not getting a lot of attention on the track. Kelly Bires is running in the shadow of his part time teammate and is trying to live up the expectations of his car's former driver. For Bires, it has not been easy.
He has struggled in qualifying, but somehow and someway finds himself in the top 10 at some point in the race. Friday was no different for Bires. He started 16th and quietly worked his way into the top 10. He was in front of the melee on lap 138.
Bires is trying to recover in the points and running a race like he did on Friday night was very important. He suffered damage on pit road when he and Justin Allgaier made contact. He finished 17th after running in the top 10 most of the night.
TMS is not Bires' best track. He only has three starts prior to this weekend. He has an average finish of 19.3. Bires will be looking to improve that on Saturday along with his continued climb in the standings.
After getting in the car to replace Jon Wes Townley after a hard practice wreck, Bowyer started 21st on Friday night. He was moving forward, but on lap 31, his car died in turn two. He was able to get it re-fired, but not after he lost a lap.
Not exactly what him or his team were looking for. With the pace that was being set, he was way back in 37th and one lap down; it was going to be a very long night for this crew. The team stayed after it got their lap back and Bowyer quickly was moving forward.
On lap 138, he got caught up in the multi-car wreck on the restart, causing damage to the front of his car. That being said, Bowyer still finished 11th . Impressive run for him after how his night started. No word on who will be driving the car this weekend, as Richard Childress Racing announced, Townley will sit this week.
After having a solid top 10 finish last weekend at Nashville Super Speedway, Michael Annett found himself bringing out two of the first three cautions. The first time was a spin early in the race. The second caution was because of his brake issues. His day over, the team headed to the garage.
I said it last week: if this team can get consistent runs, he can get good, solid finishes. Issues like this only set this driver back. Now he heads to Texas with a 33rd place finish.
Annett at TMS has had a decent record, but he only has two starts there. His average finish 16.5 at the track is decent. His best finish is 11th at this race a year ago. Annett needs a solid run this weekend and that means a top 10 finish.
It was not like he needed anymore bad luck, but Jason Leffler found himself with power steering issues. Leffler hit pit road on the caution for Michael Annett and the team was under the hood trying to get it fixed.
Power steering issues, but pitting on the first caution allowed them to stay out on the second caution gain a lot of the track position they lost hitting pit road. The team ran between 10th and 15th for most of the first half of the race.
They were running just outside the top 10 when on lap 138, he got caught up in the large wreck. He suffered damage to the front of his car. He hit pit road to make repairs on the car and ended up finishing 19th . Leffler can’t buy luck this season and he heads to Texas hoping to turn his luck around.
At TMS, he has an average finish of 15.0 since 2005 at the track. His best finish was last fall where he finished third and probably ran his best overall race at the track.
Joey Logano had a great race car late in the race. He had the fastest car on track in the final stages. The late caution sent them to pit road. Contact between himself and teammate Busch caused damage to the front of his car. He came out with the lead.
He did not hold it long, the damage to his car was too much and he quickly dropped back. He finished 10th and once again came so close to another victory this season, only to watch someone else in victory lane.
He has run well at TMS even without collecting a win. His average finish in three starts is 13.3. His best finish was fourth in Nov. of 2008. I think Logano is tired of watching his teammate hoist the trophy.
On Friday night, we got another great race this season. The NNS championship points are shaping up to be a real battle early. With the NNS regulars not laying down for the cup regulars early in this season, the battle for the championship will be close. Saturday afternoon should be no different.
TMS is a high speed track. One tiny mistake can cost you a solid finish. My other driver to watch is Allgaier; his finish at PIR is not how he ran. He had a solid, top five car, but the incident with Bires cost him. He has had a breakout season so far, with one win, two top fives, and three top 10s; Allgaier has been a factor every week.
My second driver is Brad Keselowski. He has had one of the best cars every week. He has been close to victory this season. I think TMS will be the place he finally breaks through. He is leading the standings early and has shown he can run with Busch and Kevin Harvick.
The O’Reilly 300 is Saturday, 3 p.m. on ESPN 2.