After dominating the early stages of the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway, leading 45 of the first 53 laps, it appeared Brian Scott was destined for a runner-up finish in the closing stages of the race, as he found himself a half-a-second behind race leader Kyle Larson. Then, with just two laps remaining, a one-truck accident set up a green-white-checkered finish. On the ensuing restart, Scott, who lined up on the outside lane, drove his Dollar General Tundra deep into Turn 1 and by the time the field headed down the backstretch he had cleared Larson’s No. 4 truck. Scott pulled away over the final lap-and-a-half to earn his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory and the first for the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Toyota team this season.
“This means a lot to get Dollar General to victory lane — they’ve been with me all year,” said Scott who also drives full-time in the Nationwide Series with the nation’s largest small-box discount retailer as a sponsor. “I told Rick Dreiling, the CEO of Dollar General, that I was going to get him to victory lane and I was going to get him some trophies and I’m glad I could deliver. Just thanks to everybody. Thanks to Kyle and Samantha (Busch) for letting me run their truck. This is awesome. Isn’t this cool? It means a lot to win at Phoenix. This is pretty much a home race for me being from Idaho. It’s just surreal. It’s awesome.”
Scott, who started from the third spot, took the lead for the first time on lap nine and began to check out on the rest of the field. By the time that the first caution of the race occurred on lap 36, the 24-year-old driver had opened up a four-and-a-half second lead.
When pit road opened, the KBM over-the-wall crew put fresh right side tires on the Dollar General Tundra, filled it with fuel and returned Scott to the track at the front of the field. The Idaho native retained the lead through two more quick cautions, but was unable to fend off Ty Dillon on a lap-53 restart.
The No. 18 Toyota settled into the second spot, where it would remain until the fourth caution of the race slowed the field on lap 65. This time, crew chief Eric Phillips ordered up a left-side only stop with a full tank of fuel. With several teams on different pit strategies, including seven that did not pit, Scott returned to the track scored in the 10th position for the lap-78 restart.
After the race went back to green, Scott began his march back towards the front of the field. By lap 90 he had maneuvered into the top five and when the seventh caution of the race occurred on lap 103, had advanced into the third position. The second-place truck of Justin Lofton came down pit road under caution, moving the Dollar General Tundra into the runner-up spot for the lap-108 restart.
Timothy Peters led the field to the restart with Scott in second and Larson in third. As they entered Turn 3 Larson dove to the inside of Peters and Scott took to the outside of the leader, making it a three-wide battle for the lead. Off of Turn 4, Larson emerged as the leader and Scott retained the second position.
Larson began to pull away from Scott as the race continued under green-flag conditions. The No. 18 was able to reel in the No. 4 truck with 27 laps remaining and the two raced side-by-side for the lead down the backstretch and into Turn 3. The youngster drove deep into Turn 3 and cleared the Nationwide Series regular off of Turn 4 to maintain the lead.
The recently-crowned NASCAR K&N East Series champion once again began to slowly distance himself from the Nationwide Series regular. Larson maintained a half-second lead on Scott in the closing laps, until points leader James Buescher wrecked coming off turn 4 with just two laps remaining to set up a green-white-checkered finish.
Scott, whose lone Truck Series win came at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in 2009, wouldn’t be denied his second career NASCAR victory. After words of encouragement under caution from Phillips and his longtime spotter Derek Kneeland, the veteran driver outdueled the youngster on the final restart and then pulled away for the victory.
“I was on the inside for most of the restarts when I was leading but Ty Dillon was able to get me on the outside,” recalled Scott after the race. “I just paid attention to what he did. I knew I kind of had to save it a little bit so I could have a shot at it. When the caution came out with two to go, I knew that was the only way I had a chance at winning this, so I was ecstatic. I just went into the corner really hard and held him down, got him a little loose and didn’t let up. And, when I saw him get loose, I let my truck unwind and get off the corner strong and then sailed it off into (turn) three and drove away.”
Scott became the 15th different winner in the Truck Series this season, which is a record. Larson finished 0.666 seconds behind Scott in the runner-up position. Future KBM driver Joey Coulter finished third, while Timothy Peters and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers.
Fans can celebrate Scott’s victory this Monday, Nov. 12, with 20% off their entire online purchases at DollarGeneral.com.
German Quiroga, Scott’s teammate, was running in the top 10 before being involved in an accident with just under 50 laps remaining. The three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion was forced to retire from the race and was relegated to a 24th-place finish in his fifth career Truck Series start.
There were nine caution periods for 46 laps. Seven different drivers led, exchanging the lead 10 times, including Scott who led three times for a race-high 48 laps. Fourteen drivers failed to finish the 153-lap race.
The victory was the first of 2012 for Eric Phillips and the No. 18 Tundra team and 17th since debuting in the Truck Series in 2010. Scott became the first non-Cup Series regular to collect a win for KBM. The triumph was the 27th of Phillips’ career as a crew chief, which ranks him second all-time to KBM General Manager Rick Ren, who picked up his 28th career win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with Denny Hamlin two weeks ago.
“It’s probably a bigger deal to Rick (Ren, KBM general manager) than it is me. I’ve got a few years on him yet — I keep telling him that age is on my side, so it’s just time before we get past him,” said Phillips, who has now recorded victories with eight different drivers behind the wheel. “They did a great job at Martinsville winning with Denny (Hamlin), so I’m back one behind him again. We go to Homestead next week, got the boss (Kyle Busch) back in it with Dollar General again, so hopefully can get another one — we’ve been really strong this last half of the year, just things haven’t went our way and tonight they did.”
With their ninth consecutive top-10 finish, the No. 18 Tundra team moves into sixth place in the Truck Series owner’s point standings with one race remaining. The team sits six points behind the No. 88 Toyota team for fifth place.
“Ever since we got off to a slow start, it has been our goal to get back into the top-five in owner’s points,” said Phillips, whose team was 24th in the points after the first four races of the season. “It’s been a battle, we’ve had top-10 finishes with seven different drivers and the guys on this team have stayed focused. Now, we are in a position to accomplish our goal.”
Kyle Busch returns to drive the Dollar General Tundra in the Truck Series finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway Nov. 16. The race begins at 8 p.m. ET, with SPEED’s live coverage commencing with the NCWTS Setup Show at 7:30 p.m. ET.