Kyle Busch ended his year-long winless streak in dominating fashion Sunday at Pocono Raceway, starting from the pole, winning Stage-1 and leading a race-high 74 laps, in claiming his 39th career victory. Busch passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for his final lead 17 laps from the finish and kept the #18 Toyota in front the rest of the way to notch his first Cup Series win since the 2016 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, a 36-race dry spell. It’s also Busch’s first victory at Pocono behind the wheel of a Cup Series race car. He has gone to Victory Lane in the Camping World Truck Series and, in fact, Sunday’s win gave him a weekend sweep of sorts at “The Tricky Triangle.” Busch owns the Toyota that Christopher Bell drove to victory in Saturday’s Truck Series race.
Busch’s margin of victory Sunday was a whopping six seconds over runner-up Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex, Jr. grabbed third place with Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completing the top five. Clint Bowyer won the second stage and finished sixth overall. Daniel Suarez was the highest-finishing rookie, in seventh place, and teammate Matt Kenseth ended the day in ninth place, putting all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers inside the top ten.
Ryan Blaney was seeking a season sweep at Pocono after winning in June but failed to lead a lap Sunday and finished 30th, two laps behind Busch at the checkered flag. Busch is the first Cup Series pole sitter to win at Pocono since Jimmie Johnson in 2013. Sunday’s race included 16 lead changes among nine drivers.
– story by John Singler
Concord, North Carolina