Inopportune cautions foiled the best laid plans of drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick–and their respective crew chiefs.
Even though those two drivers arguably had the best two cars in Sunday’s Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway, neither was in position to challenge for the victory when the race went to overtime.
The winner of Stage 1, Busch stayed on the track and retained the lead for a restart on Lap 119 of 163. Unable to reach the end of the race on fuel, however, Busch came to pit road on lap 134 and fell to 26th in the running order. He spent the rest of the event working his way back up to ninth at the finish, while his joe Gibbs Racing teammates—Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr.—swept the top three spots.
Busch led 56 laps, second only to Harvick’s 62.
Harvick drove his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to a third place in Stage 1, second in Stage 2 and led the field to green to start the final stage on Lap 104. But the lost the top spot to Hamlin on the restart lap and never regained it.
The way Harvick saw it, pair of cautions in the last 10 laps deprived him of the change to win in a car that was set up for long runs.
“If the caution doesn’t come out, I think we were in good shape, but that’s the way it goes, especially at this place,” said Harvick, who was trying to double up on last Sunday’s victory at New Hampshire. “You have to have the cautions fall your way, and you have to have everything go right.
“We just had a few little things here and there that didn’t go our way and wound up sixth.”