Kyle Busch Sweeps Pocono Weekend; Ties Stewart for 13th All Time – PTD Exclusive
BY JEFF WITHEY
Long Pond, PA – Kyle Busch picked up his 6th win of the 2018 Monster Energy Cup season. It was his 49th career win, tying him with Tony Stewart for 13th place on the all-time win list. Busch didn’t have the best car of the weekend but at the checkered flag he gapped the field with ease.
40-cars started the second Pocono NASCAR race of the season with the field being reshuffled due to 13 cars failing the post qualifying inspection procedure.
Daniel Suarez, who was the first Mexican American driver to win a pole in the NASCAR Monster Energy Series lead the field to the green flag. Coming into the event he had only lead a total of 6-laps all season long. Suarez needed a win coming into the event as he was 94 points below the cut off line to make the playoffs which begin in just a few weeks. Suarez would lead 28 laps on the day and scored a career best finish of 2nd.
The car to beat all weekend and all day was Kevin Harvick. Harvick was penalized for failing to pass the post qualifying inspection and started 29th on the day. A lifetime 0-35 at Pocono, he savaged the field often and early. He was 12th on lap 4, 9th on lap 13, 8th on lap 18 and 2nd on lap 46 and was the leader on lap 65.
82-laps were in when the first caution came out. The field went back to work on lap 86 where Harvick was still setting the pace. With 96 laps in, Harvick had built a nearly 2 second lead over 2nd place running and eventual race winner Kyle Busch.
As the field finished the second stage at lap 100, it was Harvick at the helm and looking as strong as ever.
After the pit stops Harvick restarted 9th while young William Byron set the pace on worn tires on the restart on lap 105. It was a masterful restart that drew praise from the television broadcasters.
It was a short-lived time on the lead for Byron as Kyle Busch took command of the race on lap 111.
The race for the win took a dramatic turn when during the caution on lap 120 while Brad Keslowski slapped the wall with a flat tire, exiting pit road Kevin Harvick had contact with his teammate Aric Almirola on pit road. He suffered damage to the left rear and had to make 2 pit stops under yellow to get the damage fixed to prevent the fender from rubbing on the tire. This sealed Harvick’s fate for the win.
A caution came out on lap 125 and the field went back to green on lap 132. Harvick started deep in the field and was plugging his way back to the front. He was up to 18th on lap 136, 10th on lap 147 and 9th on lap 148.
Bubba Wallace pounded the turn one wall when he broke a brake rotor. He tried to slow up the Richard Petty Motorsports 43 by going through the grass in turn one but that set the car in motion to pound the right side of the car into the wall. The impact was so great, that Wallace said over his radio “it’s the hardest hit I have ever taken” and then mumbled other words. As he gingerly exited the crumpled and destroyed 43, he had to sit down on the ground to gather himself. He walked himself to the ambulance but was clearly startled and was uneven on his feet.
During his post-race interview outside the care center, Wallace quipped “I had an ultrasound, there’s no twins” so his humor was evident to help take the seriousness of his accident and turn it into a laughable moment.
With 157 laps in the field went back to green only to be slowed by a caution for Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse who had an incident together.
The last restart of the day came on lap 161. Busch gapped the field with ease and picked up his 6th win of the 2018 season. Also, it marked his 17th top 10 finish of the season as well.
Career best days for Alex Bowman in third, Daniel Suarez in 2nd, and William Byron was the highest finishing rookie in 6th. Busch has a 48-point lead of Kevin Harvick heading into Watkins Glenn next weekend.
“I cant say enough about my teammate Daniel Suarez”said race winner Kyle Busch. “Kevin was the best car here today, we were second and my teammate was 3rd”. “Daniel gave me a good push there at the end. I want to thank Adam Stevens and all my guys for everything they do. We swept the weekend, took both them Eagles home.”
Daniel Suarez came up one spot short in his quest to make the playoffs and score his first career win. “I thought I was a little better on the short runs versus the 18 team. We lost the balance of the car early, but we made the car better. We were just better on short runs”