Another week, another wild race. This week Kyle Busch was able to put it all together for his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of 2017. Here’s how it all went down Sunday at Pocono Raceway:
For the first time in 45 years, NASCAR held Cup qualifying on the same day as the race. Kyle Busch won the pole, his fifth of the season, his first at Pocono and his second consecutive having won the pole last week at Indy. In a somewhat ironic twist, Martin Truex Jr. started second. Ironic since the two crashed out at Indy on a restart.
Jamie McMurray started third followed by Denny Hamlin, the winner at Pocono in June, Ryan Blaney, and Kevin Harvick in the top five.
Busch had the lead by turn 1, Truex was second as Hamlin fell into third.
At the exit of turn 3, Matt Kenseth running 14th, spun and collected several others. Aric Almirola had heavy damage; also involved: Danica Patrick, AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, Austin Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and Paul Menard. Caution 1 came out.
Almirola and DiBenedetto were the only car who appeared to be done for the day. However, several others went on the five-minute clock for repairs.
When the pits finally opened, only those deep in the field pitted. The leaders stayed out.
Green came out to start lap 8. Busch again had the lead by turn 1. Truex took second, McMurray was third, Blaney fourth, Hamlin fifth.
Harvick took fifth on lap 10.
Truex was reporting a possible electrical issue on lap 13 as the lead for Busch was 1.3 seconds.
Green flag stops started on lap 16 by Blaney. Harvick, Logano and Kahne pitted a lap later.
McMurray, and Chase Elliott pitted on lap 19.
Truex pitted on lap 21. Busch pitted a lap later. Hamlin followed.
Erik Jones pitted from the lead on lap 26.
Others stayed out. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led, Daniel Suarez was second, followed by Kenseth, Patrick and Austin Dillon. Kyle Busch was seventh.
Patrick pitted on lap 30. Suarez pitted on lap 36. Stenhouse pitted a lap later.
Kenseth had stayed out and took the lead, but Busch reeled him in and retook the lead on lap 42; Truex followed for second.
Kenseth pitted on lap 46. The move meant Kenseth could stay out while everyone else needed to pit during the stage break.
The top 10 Stage 1: Kyle Busch, Truex, Brad Keselowski, Blaney, McMurray, Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Elliott. Caution 2 was displayed.
The leaders all pitted. Kyle Busch was out first followed by Harvick, Truex, Hamlin and McMurray. Hamlin was nailed for speeding. The penalty moved McMurray into fifth.
As expected, Kenseth stayed out and had the lead when the green waved on lap 56. Kenseth held the lead into turn 1, but Busch was looking for the top spot. Busch took the lead entering turn 3 on the outside.
Jimmie Johnson spun exiting turn 3 with a flat tire and caution 3 came out. Johnson had slowed with a possible tire going down; it looked as though Johnson had made contact with Kahne in the turn. Johnson smacked the wall with the rear of his Chevy and was done for the day. It marked the third time in the last four races that Johnson had crashed out.
Keselowski in eighth led others behind him down pit road.
The restart came on lap 62; Busch took the lead as Harvick slipped into second. Kenseth was third, Truex fourth. Truex took third on lap 63; Blaney was showing tire smoke and pitted. He had damage on the right front.
Blaney rejoined the field a lap down, but still had tire smoke. McMurray in sixth reported an oil smell. Blaney pitted again on lap 66.
Larson was up into third by lap 67; Truex was fourth, Bowyer fifth.
Truex reported his alternator light was blinking but his voltage was good.
Larson slowed on the track on lap 69 and caution 4 came out. The driveshaft from his Chevy had come out entering turn 1 and was sitting on the track.
The leaders pitted. Keselowski with two tires came out first, followed by Busch with 4, Dale Earnhardt Jr. with two, Harvick and Truex with 4.
Two drivers stayed out; Austin Dillon led, followed by Hamlin when green came back out to start lap 74.
Hamlin took the lead, Keselowski took second, Busch was third. Dillon and Earnhardt started dropping; Busch took second exiting turn 3, but he nearly lost it in turn 1 and lost several spots landing in sixth. Elliott passed him and Busch fell to seventh on lap 78.
Up front the top five: Hamlin, Keselowski, Truex, Harvick and Bowyer.
Bowyer took fourth from Harvick on lap 80.
Larson came back on track on lap 83.
Truex took second on lap 84. Keselowski was soon dropping back; he was seventh by lap 87. Harvick, Bowyer and Elliott were the top five behind Hamlin and Truex.
Truex was looking for the lead on lap 89; he took it on lap 90 exiting turn 2
Truex and Hamlin pitted on lap 97; three laps to the end of the stage. Kyle Busch also pitted as did Harvick. Bowyer had the lead.
Top 10 Stage 2: Bowyer, Keselowski, Patrick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Kahne, Stenhouse, Trevor Bayne, McDowell and Allmendinger.
As expected, the top 10 pitted. Off pit road; Bowyer, Keselowski, Kahne, Patrick, Newman. Kahne was penalized for speeding s was McDowell, Bayne, and Stenhouse.
The top five on the restart to start lap 106: Truex, Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott, Kyle Busch.
Truex had the lead by turn 1, Hamlin was second, Busch shot to third. Harvick was fourth, Keselowski fifth.
By lap 114, the lead for Truex was just over a second. It was 1.1 seconds by lap 120.
Kenseth pitted on lap 124. Harvick pitted just behind as did Earnhardt and Logano. Logano was penalized for speeding.
Hamlin, Suarez and Bowyer pitted on lap 126.
Truex pitted on lap 127. Kyle Busch inherited the lead. Logano was penalized for speeding again.
Busch pitted on lap 135. Keselowski took the lead, Erik Jones was second, followed by Elliott, Kahne and Hamlin. The top four still needed to pit. Elliott pitted on lap 139.
Behind the top four, there was a battle for the eventual lead between Hamlin and Harvick; Busch meanwhile on much fresher tires was quickly gaining.
Keselowski pitted on lap 142 with Jones following; that gave the lead to Hamlin.
Busch got by Truex for third on lap 143. Hamlin was catching traffic allowing Harvick to catch up.
Harvick took the lead on lap 144; Busch followed.
Busch made contact with Harvick in turn 3 and took the lead on lap 145; Hamlin took second, Harvick fell to third.
Harvick took second on lap 145 bringing Truex with him.
Busch had a lead of 2.3 seconds by lap 146.
By lap 149 the lead was just over 3 seconds.
With 10 to go the lead was just over 4 seconds.
Kenseth, in ninth, was showing smoke with five laps to go.
On the final lap the lead was 5.7 seconds.
Kyle Busch went on to win his first race of 2017 by 6.17 seconds over Harvick. Truex was third, Hamlin fourth and Keselowski fifth.
Bowyer was sixth, Suarez seventh, Jones eighth, Kenseth ninth and Elliott 10th.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the road course at Watkins Glen in New York next Sunday. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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