Busch prevails at Pocono for sixth win

Cup Series’ ‘Big Three’ continue to pile up wins

Jul 28, 2018; Long Pond, PA, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch walks through the garage during practice for the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Busch overcame starting from near the rear of the field and an out-of-sorts car early in the race to win Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

The victory in the Gander Outdoors 400 was the sixth of the year for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and tied him with Kevin Harvick — who, like Busch, also failed post-qualifying inspection and was penalized to the back of the field — for the most in the series.

“What an awesome race,” Busch said. “My Toyota Camry was awesome. Had a lot of speed (late in the race), but man, we fought it all weekend.”

It was Busch’s second win in 28 starts at the 2.5-mile Pocono “Tricky Triangle,” and it came in overtime.

Pole-sitter Daniel Suarez, Busch’s JGR teammate, finished second, 1.7 seconds behind Busch.

“Suarez, man. I can’t say enough about my teammate,” Busch said.

“I thought we were a solid top-three car,” said Suarez, a native of Mexico whose finish was his best in a Cup race. “I felt like in the short run, we were actually the best car. I was better than the 18 (Busch). It’s a little disappointing.”

Third was Alex Bowman in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Rounding out the top five were Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick and JGR’s Erik Jones.

Busch took the lead for the first time with 48 laps to go. After that, restarts — including one in overtime — became his major obstacles.

Suarez, who inherited the pole when Harvick was penalized, brought the field to the green flag in the No. 19 and led the first 21 laps.

After that, Harvick, his teammate and past champion Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch took turns making their way to the front to lead double-digit laps.

Collecting stage wins and points were Chase Elliott, who won the first stage of the race and his second in as many weeks, and Harvick, who won the second stage, which was his 10th stage win of the season.

Harvick, who appeared to have the fastest car on the track and who led 30 laps, saw his chance to get his first Pocono win end when his sustained body damage during a pit-road scrape with teammate Aric Almirola with 36 laps to go.

Defending series champion Martin Truex Jr., who is two behind Kyle Busch and Harvick for the most this season, finished 15th. The trio, who sit atop the Cup standings, have combined to win 16 of this season’s 21 races.

Thirteen drivers were forced to start from the rear of the field after failing post-qualifying inspection on Saturday. Harvick and Busch were joined by Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, William Byron, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kasey Kahne.