Toyota drivers swept all four racing events this weekend with Kyle Busch closing out his 12th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) sweep.
Meanwhile, in USAC competition, Cannon McIntosh became a first-time winner while Michael Self continued Toyota’s ARCA win streak.
Busch capped a victorious Toyota weekend on Sunday, capturing his 199th career NASCAR national series win in the MENCS at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Next weekend, he will attempt to reach a historic 200-career NASCAR win as he competes in the MENCS and NXS races at Auto Club Speedway.
“It’s a good time right now to be a part of Rowdy Nation,” said Busch. “There’s a lot of wins happening, which is really awesome. We just have to continue on and go into each week and do our jobs, work as hard as we possibly can and do the right things.”
Busch did everything right on Sunday, leading 117 laps (of 312) and saving enough fuel to hold off hard-charging teammate Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 19 Camry in the closing laps. Truex finished second and teammate Denny Hamlin finished fifth.
A day earlier, Busch took the Toyota Supra to victory lane for its third-consecutive race in the NXS.
He turned in another strong performance leading 116 laps (of 200) to capture his second-consecutive NXS win and 94th career-series victory.
Busch was challenged by Toyota teammate Christopher Bell throughout the first half of the race with Bell starting from the pole position and leading 68 laps. An incident on lap 129 with another car losing an engine left Bell, who was running third at the time, blanketed by a cloud of smoke. Unable to see, Bell hit the wall and ended his day early.
“Christopher (Bell) was certainly going to give me a run for my money today,” said Busch. “I hate he got caught up in that mess. It was really going to be a fun run to the end there.”
Brandon Jones (seventh) also posted his third top-10 finish this season.
The ARCA Racing Series returned to action with Toyota drivers now two-for-two in 2019 race wins. Michael Self led a race-high 68 laps (of 200) to capture the victory at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday evening.
“This is a big deal for me,” said Self. “A short track (win) in ARCA has eluded me. I had a lot of confidence in our car. The Venturini Motorsports team as a whole is really good.”
Toyota Racing development driver Chandler Smith won the pole award earlier in the day and led the field to green before leading 38 laps. Smith finished fourth, rounding out a top-four sweep by Toyota with drivers Ty Gibbs (second) and Christian Eckes (third) also in the mix.
In Du Quoin, Illinois, Toyota-powered driver Cannon McIntosh started from the pole and led 40 laps (of 50) on the way to his first national midget win in the USAC Racing Series, “Shamrock Classic.”
The 16-year-old driver didn’t earn the win without some adversity, however, as his car suffered a fire during hot laps that left his team frantically working to get it ready for his heat and qualifying races.
“I’m speechless,” said McIntosh. “There’s no words for this. We started off the day on fire – literally. I didn’t even know if we’d be able to get it back together to even attempt to start the race tonight. Every time we hit the track after that, we were right on the money. I didn’t think we’d ever start on the pole of this thing, and we just won it. It’s absolutely unreal.”
McIntosh’s victory was also the first USAC win for Toyota this season and the sixth national midget feature win for the manufacturer in 2019.
The MENCS and NXS conclude NASCAR’s western swing at Auto Club Speedway in California on March 16 and 17. Supra looks to make it four wins in a row in the NXS on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. EDT on FS1, while Martin Truex Jr. defends his MENCS win on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EDT on FOX.
NHRA competes in its third event of 2019 with drivers heading to Gainesville, Florida for the NHRA Gatornationals on March 17. Finals will be broadcast on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. EDT on FS1.
Leigh Anne Sessions
Lisa Hughes Kennedy