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Avondale, AZ (Sports Network) - Kyle Busch is on pace for another NASCAR trifecta after a flawless performance in Saturday's Bashas' Supermarkets 200 Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch, who won Friday's 150-lap Camping World Truck Series event at Phoenix, started on the pole and led all 200 laps in the Nationwide race. It was his fourth win at this flat one-mile track and the 44th of his Nationwide career, which puts him four victories away from tying leader Mark Martin on the series' all-time race winners list.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the last driver to lead every lap in a Nationwide race. Earnhardt Jr. ran in front for all 100 laps in the July 2003 event at the 2.5- mile Daytona International Speedway.
Busch seemed untouchable until the final 25 laps when Carl Edwards chased him down and at one point ran side-by-side with him.
Edwards made an attempt to pass Busch with 20 laps to go, but Busch pulled away a couple of laps later and then finished a half-second ahead of Edwards.
"There at the end, I got a little worried," Busch said. "The first person I got to thank is Carl Edwards for racing me clean...After the last couple of changes on pit road, my car just didn't go quite the way we wanted it."
Edwards, who won the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races at Phoenix last November, had no intention of sparking a feud with Busch in the opening weeks of the 2011 season.
"[Busch] was loose, but he did a really good job driving his car," Edwards said. "I thought about [bumping] him, but it's a new year. I thought I could get by him clean, but he just did a good job."
Busch won all three of NASCAR's national touring series races on the same week in August 2010 at Bristol, TN, becoming the first driver to do so.
Can he do it again with a victory in Sunday's Sprint Cup race?
"I hope so; that's the plan," he said. "I hope Carl didn't save everything he has for tomorrow."
Edwards will start on the pole, while Busch will roll off fourth in the 312- lap (500-kilometer) Cup race.
Kevin Harvick finished third, followed by Ryan Newman and Reed Sorenson, who was the top points-scoring driver in the Nationwide race.
Sorenson selected NASCAR's second-tier series as his championship choice at the beginning of the season. He currently holds a five-point advantage over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished seventh.
Joey Logano took the sixth spot, while Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott and Kenny Wallace were eighth through 10th, respectively.
Danica Patrick, who presently resides in Phoenix, finished three laps behind in 17th.
After winning the Daytona 500 last Sunday, Trevor Bayne's weekend at Phoenix continued to be a disappointment. Bayne was running among the top-10 when he blew his right-front tire and made contact with the wall late in the race. He ended up finishing 31st. The 20-year-old is competing for a Nationwide title this year.
"We just had some misfortune with the tire," Bayne said. "We were right there in seventh behind Logano trying to work on him, and going into three, the tire went. I don't know if the bead melted from the brake heat, or if I ran something over, but it kind of stinks that it happened."
Bayne wrecked his primary Sprint Cup car during the first of two practices on Friday. Bayne, who is running a limited schedule for Wood Brothers Racing in NASCAR's top circuit this season, is using a backup car for tomorrow's race. He will start 33rd.
Brad Keselowski, the 2010 Nationwide champion, was involved in an accident midway through the race and finished 34th. Keselowski also crashed in last week's season-opener at Daytona, which ended his streak of 102 races without a DNF (did not finish).
"This is the new car for the Nationwide Series, and we brought a new tire to the track this weekend," Keselowski said. "You get one set of tires for practice to figure it out, but we missed it."
Keselowski made his championship eligibility in Sprint Cup.
02/26 21:38:56 ET
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