Busch snaps 36-race winless streak; wins at Pocono

LONG POND, Pa. -- What you need to know from Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway:


WINNER: Kyle Busch snapped a 36-race winless streak and finally found victory lane in 2017. Busch tapped leader Kevin Harvick out of the way on Lap 145 of a scheduled 160 and passed him for the lead in the Overton's 400. On fresher tires, Busch was able to build a five-second lead on the field and hold on for the win.

Both drivers were looking for their first career win at Pocono. The pole-sitter now has won at every active NASCAR track except Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch's victory also gave car manufacturer Toyota its 100th Cup win.

It also gave Busch a slot in the 16-driver playoff. Five races and three slots remain before the regular-season cutoff.

"Never thought this day would happen," Busch said after performing a series of burnouts at the start/finish line. "We had such an awesome race car. We've been fighting all year but something always seemed to go wrong -- just wasn't sure why or what was next.

"Man, this car was so good. This is something that I've been waiting for a long, long time.

"This is (an) important win for me in another way. This is my first win in a points race since my grandmother passed away. So, this one's for her. She's looking down on us and smiling down on us today."

Harvick was second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

Harvick said from victory lane that Busch's car was the class of the field all weekend and he was having trouble getting his car to stick in the turn.

SHAFTED: Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet lost a drive shaft as he ran inside the top 10 on Lap 70, sending him to the garage for lengthy repairs. He returned on Lap 83 in 34th place.

TOUGH START: Seven cars were involved in a Lap 1 accident when Matt Kenseth appeared to get loose next to Jimmie Johnson and slid in Turn 3.

Kenseth was winless and entered the weekend holding the last playoff spot available on points. Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell and Danica Patrick also were involved. DiBenedetto and Almirola did not return.

Kenseth recovered and attempted to stretch fuel to lead and gain a playoff point by winning the first stage. Kyle Busch passed him with nine laps remaining in the 50-lap stage, however.

TEAMMATE CHECKMATE: Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne – who ended a 102-race winless streak last week in the Brickyard 400 – turned teammate Johnson, wrecking him out of the race on Lap 57. Johnson is assured a playoff spot with three wins.

“I think the No. 5 washed-up into me and kind of finished me off over there in Turn 3,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely not the day we wanted to have, but I don’t think either one of those situations were intentional by any stretch.”

SUSPENDED: Team owner Joe Gibbs defended his decision this week to suspend two tire changers from affiliate Furniture Row Racing’s Truex team. Chris Taylor and Lee Cunningham were each suspended three races after inciting a verbal confrontation with Busch crew chief Adam Stevens after Busch and Truex wrecked together at the front of the field in the Brickyard 400 last week. The complicating factor in the suspension is that Furniture Row leases pit crews from JGR, meaning Gibbs penalized the points leader and a team his drivers are attempting to catch. Stevens was not punished.

“I think when you partner like we do with Furniture Row, with the pit crew you don’t envision something like this happening, but it can happen,” Gibbs told NBC Sports.

STAGE TWO: Clint Bowyer won his first stage of the season, followed by Keselowski, Patrick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, McDowell and A.J. Allmendinger.

Truex was angling for a series-best 15th stage win but opted to pit off the lead with less than five laps left in the segment to set himself up for pursuit of the win. Hamlin did the same from second position.

STAGE ONE: Kyle Busch notched his eighth segment win of the season. He led 30 of the first 50 laps. Truex was second, followed by Harvick, Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Hamlin, Bowyer, Larson and Chase Elliott.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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