AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Kyle Busch lost the victory to Jeff Gordon but left Phoenix International Raceway with the championship points lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Busch leads his older brother Kurt Busch -- who finished eighth Sunday -- by three points, Tony Stewart and A.J. Allmendinger by 11 points and Gordon and Mark Martin by 15 points.
Kyle Busch also took the blame for starting an early race collision that ruined the day for pole-sitter Carl Edwards."I can understand his frustration that he had, and so I apologize to him first and foremost," Busch said. "Hopefully we can get past this and go on."
Brian Vickers was less polite about a 13-car pileup that started when Vickers' Toyota was struck by Matt Kenseth's Ford.
"It was a hard hit," Vickers said. "It's going to come back to him."
Said Kenseth: "I never even felt us touch. Maybe I'll watch it (on replay) and see something else, but I really don't know what (Vickers) is talking about."
Sunday's race was the last before Phoenix International is repaved and slightly altered, and Gordon helped get the job started.
After celebrating in Victory Lane, Gordon climbed into a giant excavator parked at the start-finish line and scooped up the first load of the old pavement.
The track hasn't been Gordon's best in his career and he earlier said he was looking forward to the new version. But after the race, he said with a grin, "We got and win today and I'm like, man, can you just wait another year before you do that?"
Olympic skating star Apolo Anton Ohno was the race's grand marshal and gave the command for drivers to start engines.
"This is my first (NASCAR) race ever attending live," said Ohno, who lives in Los Angeles. "It's very humbling to be the grand marshal."
Before the race, Ohno -- also a former winner of the "Dancing With the Stars" television contest -- and Edwards met with reporters, and one asked Edwards if he would compete on the dance show.
"No way," Edwards replied.