Kurt Busch stays out, steals Stage 2 win at Phoenix

Kurt Busch held off Brad Keselowski on a one-lap restart to claim the Stage 2 victory – his first stage win of the 2018 season.

Kurt Busch stays out, steals Stage 2 win at Phoenix
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation and Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Alliance Truck Parts
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Fusion Mobil 1/Haas Automation

Busch and Keselowski had both remained on the track instead of pitting during a caution shortly before the conclusion of the stage.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who started the race from the rear of the field because he wrecked is primary car on Friday, finished third. Kyle Busch was fourth and Michael McDowell was fifth.

Completing the Top 10 and collecting stage points were Ty Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer.

All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit during the break between Stages 1 and 2, with Kyle Busch holding onto his lead off pit road. On the restart on Lap 94, he was followed by Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Keselowski.

With 50 laps remaining in Stage 2, Kyle Busch continued to hold a small advantage over Harvick, while Kyle Larson had dropped outside the Top 10.

Darrell Wallace Jr. scraped the wall off Turn 2 but continued on and there was no caution for the incident.

Erik Jones also dropped out of the Top 10, with a variety of handling and brake issues.

“I can’t roll any extra speed into (Turn) 1 because I get loose, I can’t roll any extra speed into (Turn) 3 because I get tight,” Jones said over his team radio.

On Lap 47, Larson spun off Turn 4 to bring out a caution. He had been complaining that his rear wheels had been “chattering” for several laps.

Keselowski took just two new tires on his pit stop for the second time in the race and came away with the race lead on the restart on Lap 127. He was followed by Kyle Busch, Elliott, Truex and Kurt Busch.

With 22 laps remaining in the stage, Kyle Busch rain down Keselowski to reclaim the lead.

With 18 laps left, Wallace was forced to make a green-flag pit stop for a right-front loose wheel while Truex powered past Keselowski and into the second position. Wallace returned to the track in 34th.

On Lap 146, Chris Buescher hit the wall in Turn 4 to bring out another caution.

During the quickie yellow, Kurt Busch and Keselowski elected to stay on the track while most lead-lap cars hit pit road. Kyle Busch was first off pit road.

Alex Bowman was penalized by NASCAR for speeding on pit road and Hamlin’s team had trouble with its jack which slowed their stop.

Kurt Busch led the way on the restart and held on to win the stage.

"Whooo - we're stage winners. Whooo - we're starting 25th now (after making a pit stop)," Kurt Busch said during the break. "That's part of the game now. That's how you got to play these stages. The good comes with the bad. Our car was so good during the long runs, I figured I need tires. I've got to work with what we've got."

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Kyle Busch beats Harvick to Stage 1 win at Phoenix

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Kevin Harvick wins at Phoenix for third NASCAR Cup victory in a row

Kevin Harvick wins at Phoenix for third NASCAR Cup victory in a row
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