Kyle Busch Captures First Pocono Win And Victory Of 2017by Camille Jones July 30, 2017
LONG POND, Pa.– Kyle Busch led 74 laps on his way to capturing his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race victory of the season on Sunday afternoon in the Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, snapped a 36-race winless streak with his victory at the 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle. The streak was the largest of his career. The only Cup Series track where Busch hasn’t won a points race at in his career is Charlotte Motor Speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing now has two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories in the 2017 season, its first coming with Denny Hamlin’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earlier this month.
“It’s been a frustrating year and this certainly relieves a little bit of that – I wouldn’t say all of it,” said Busch. “Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and these guys did an awesome job today. I can’t say enough about this M&M’s Caramel Camry – Toyota, this is their 100th Monster Energy Cup Series win. I can’t say enough about all of our partners and everyone on this team. All these guys, the pit crew – they do a great job each and every week. We had to rely on them on that final stop so we didn’t lose too much time to those guys because we had so much distance that we were letting them have it on us with those fresher tires that they had. It’s been a frustrating year, but an awesome day today.”
Kevin Harvick rallied to a second-place finish in Sunday’s event, driving the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. This was Harvick’s 14th top-10 finish in 2017.
“Yeah, there was no battle,” Harvick said. “He (Kyle Busch) was way faster than we were. In the lap he happened to catch me, in my head I was thinking, All right, we just need to stay on the bottom. I got sideways going into three. Tried to park it. He was going to the throttle about the same time. Got in the back of me a little bit. That was just me trying to keep it on the bottom.
“There was no battle. I mean, he was in a league of his own there at the end. Just got through traffic good. Got to us, got around us, gone.”
Martin Truex Jr. showed the dominant speed that his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team has shown all season long in the early portion of the 160-lap event, leading 31 laps in the race, but ultimately, he finished third.
“It wasn’t the right strategy, but I think we still had a shot at it if we hadn’t got caught up there at the end in traffic so bad,” Truex Jr. said. “Just kept catching lapped cars in the wrong spots and that cost us second without a doubt. I don’t know if we could have beat Kyle (Busch), he was really, really fast there at the end and we were off there at the end. Congrats to the 18 guys and Adam (Stevens, 18 crew chief) and all them. They’ve been real fast lately so I’m glad they finally got one. Proud of Furniture Row and everybody did a good job this weekend.”
Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth and Chase Elliott all finished out the top-10.
Excitement came early in the race when Matt Kenseth went for a spin on lap 1, spinning through the field without contact but triggering multiple collisions behind him. Aric Almirola and Matt DiBenedetto were unable to continue following the accident.
On lap 59, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne made contact, sending Johnson into the outside wall. He was unable to continue due to damage sustained on the impact with the outside wall. Johnson has failed to complete the last three of the four races that he has competed in.
“With Jimmie (Johnson) he was high and everybody was going by him on the inside,” Kahne said. “And I followed the next car and I was like way lower than where the groove it and he still hit me. So, I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe he couldn’t steer because he had a problem or like something was flat because he obviously spun right after that. So, I’m not exactly sure what happened to him.”
The caution flag flew once again on lap 71, when Kyle Larson’s driveshaft broke off the car and was laying on the track. Larson drove his No. 42 car to the garage where his team was able to make repairs. He returned to the track and finished 33rd.
“Yeah, I had a draft shaft break,” Larson said. “I don’t know if it was my doing or what, but I mean I didn’t change my motion up or anything like that. I thought it was fairly normal from what I did and everything just shattered when I got into third gear. Yeah, a little disappointing because our Energizer Chevy was pretty good today. I thought we had a top five car for sure.”
Martin Truex Jr. still holds the lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, now by 85 points over Kyle Larson in second.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on the winding track of Watkins Glen International next weekend for the I Love New York 355 at The Glen. Live race coverage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) on Sunday, August 6, at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images