NEW PACKAGE NO PROBLEM FOR KYLE BUSCH AT POCONO
Even though he didn’t win any stages, Kyle Busch breezed to a win at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 400.
The race would start with William Byron leading the field to green after winning his third pole of the season. As Byron began to pull away, the preplanned competition caution came out and led to a multitude of strategy calls throughout the race.
As many of the leaders pitted, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski took the lead after only taking two tires. On lap thirty Austin Dillon moved down in front of Paul Menard going into a corner, spinning him out into the wall and ending his day very early. On the restart, Larson gained the lead with Byron right on him to compete for the stage win. As close as Byron got he couldn’t get past Larson, getting Larson his second stage win of the season.
After pitstops, Keselowski and crew took a risk to stay out for the restart and gain the lead. The lead for Keselowski didn’t last long as Kyle Busch got by him as Matt DiBenedetto spun and lost control, accruing no damage but bringing out the third caution.
The ensuing green light was short-lived, as Matt Tifft got on to the apron and spun out. As Busch began to pull away again, Corey LaJoie lost a tire, forcing him into the wall going into the corner and ending his day. Clint Bowyer took the lead on the restart only to lose it a few laps later back to Busch. As green-flag stops began, Larson’s crew would stay out again to take the lead and win the second stage.
The third stage was where strategy came in to play. After Kyle Busch took the lead and began to pull away again, late green flag stops prompted many teams to try something different to put themselves in contention. Keselowski and Kevin Harvick pitted early, taking on two tires; however, the move didn’t work out for Harvick as he was docked for an uncontrolled tire penalty, putting him a lap down.
Busch then made the most of a four-tire stop and cycled back out in a position to take the lead. As drivers Daniel Suarez, Byron, and Daniel Hemric gained and lost the lead after having to pit, Busch would work his way back to the top with 20 laps to go.
Busch appeared headed for the win as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost a tire and slammed into the wall, bringing out a caution with 14 to go.
Busch remained on the track while some fast cars in the back went into the pits. On the restart, Busch pulled ahead with Keselowski hounding him while Kyle Larson, who was on four fresh tires and moving up in a hurry, tried to pull up in front of Clint Bowyer and paid the price. Larson got turned into the wall and pancaked the right side, turning a much needed top-five finish and possible win into a 26th place finish.
The caution would not come out for Larson as he was able to get to pit-road and aside from a little bit of a run from Keselowski, Busch would smoothly go on to lead the last nine laps to pick up his fourth win of the season.