Kyle Busch wins Pocono 400

by Justin Nguyen

After a dominant run in Stage #3, Kyle Busch is off to Victory Lane in the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway. He led nearly half the event (79 of 160 laps) en route to his fifty-fifth Monster Energy Cup Series win and fourth of 2019.

For the second consecutive week, William Byron started on the pole, with Busch second. Matt DiBenedetto and J.J. Yeley, the latter of whom made his first NASCAR start of 2019, were sent to the rear for an engine change and unapproved adjustments, respectively.

Stage #1

As Byron led the early laps, Ryan Blaney, who started seventeenth, quickly plummeted out of the top twenty-five from damage sustained following bumping with Ryan Newman and Ty Dillon at the start.

Due to weather concerns at the track, the competition caution came out on lap 20. At this point, Byron had led every lap, while Erik Jones passed his Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Busch for second. Five drivers, led by Kyle Larson, changed two tyres to lead the field off pit road; Byron was the first of the four-tyre changes to exit in sixth.

The race resumed on lap 25. Shortly after, Austin Dillon spun in turn three and reared into the outside wall to produce a caution. Larson led the field to the restart and kept his position for the remainder of the stage to score his second stage win of 2019. Behind him were Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Blaney, Daniel Suárez, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., and Paul Menard. On alternate strategies, Busch, Jones, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott pitted shortly before the green-checkered flag.

Stage #2

Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Between stages, Byron was the first out of the pits ahead of Daniel Hemric, while Keselowski and Truex stayed out to create the front row for Stage #2.

Busch took the lead on lap 56. Moments later, DiBenedetto spun, and most of the leaders pitted under the ensuing yellow. Lending credence to the phrase “Cautions breed cautions”‘, more incidents occurred as the stage progressed for Matt Tifft and Corey LaJoie‘s own spins.

With 20 laps before the stage’s conclusion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and David Ragan pitted after cutting tyres, as did Almirola. At the front, Busch continued to lead Bowyer, the margin ballooning to over five seconds by lap 85. On lap 93, Truex retired from the race with an engine failure.

Prior to stage’s end, Busch, Bowyer, and Harvick pitted, allowing Elliott to take the lead. On lap 98, Elliott pitted and first shuffled to Larson. As Larson recorded a second stage victory, other drivers also elected to pit beforehand. Logano finished second, followed by Byron, Keselowski, Newman, Kurt Busch, Darrell Wallace Jr., Chris Buescher, Hemric, and Suárez.

Stage #3

Yeley, who exited the race on lap 54 with mechanical issues, returned in time for Stage #3. Logano left the pits first, while Kyle Busch led the grid to the green flag. Blaney, who restarted tenth, dropped to nineteenth moments later.

On lap 107, Tifft went to the garage as Busch continued to lead. Keselowski pitted on lap 119 to open the green flag stop cycle, with Busch also doing so. Harvick, who was running second when he pitted, was penalised for an uncontrolled tyre. Upon serving his pass-through penalty, Harvick’s day worsened when he suffered damage to another tyre that had to be repaired upon pitting again.

Once the leaders completed their stops, they ran behind Suárez, Byron, Kurt Busch, and Hemric, who had yet to pit. Busch was the first of the remaining four to pit, followed by Suárez. Byron and Hemric did the same, though the former only added fuel, as Kyle Busch regained the lead.

With 14 laps remaining, Stenhouse hit the turn two wall. The restart occurred with nine laps to go as Busch maintained his lead over Keselowski. Larson pitted afterwards when he was clipped by Bowyer and hit the wall, though the race stayed under green flag conditions.

Keselowski could not catch Busch, who stormed to his fourth win of the season and fifty-fifth of his Cup career; the latter ties him with Rusty Wallace for the ninth-most of all time on the Cup win list. Behind the two were Jones, Elliott, Bowyer, Hamlin, Logano, Suárez, Byron, and Almirola.

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