Pocono NASCAR: Kyle Busch wins despite qualifying controversy – NASCAR

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch overcame a 28th-place start and overtime to seal Pocono NASCAR Cup Series race victory, ahead of team-mate Daniel Suarez in a career-best second.

Busch had a two second lead over first-time polesitter Suarez heading into the closing stages.

This advantage was eliminated when a red flag was triggered with six laps remaining when Darrell Wallace Jr suffered a brake failure heading into Turn 1, slamming into the barriers. He emerged unhurt.

After Busch’s lead survived one restart, spins for Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Aric Almirola – who were both running outside the top 20 – sent the race into overtime.

While Suarez was forced to defend an attack from Erik Jones on the final restart, Busch was able to swoop around the outside of both his team-mates at Turn 1 to retain the lead and seize a sixth 2018 victory.

Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick were among the 13 drivers who failed post-qualifying car inspections and were excluded from the qualifying result. The pair had originally locked out the front-row but started 28th and 29th respectively.

In fourth place by the end of stage one, Busch did not lead the race until lap 112 of 160, after having sacrificed stage points and a top 10 stage two finish by pitting before the segment-ending caution. As a result, he gained track position to start the final stage when the frontrunners pitted under the caution between the segments.

Stage two winner Harvick was one of the drivers to lose out as a result of eight drivers opting for Busch’s strategy.

Harvick’s victory hopes were finally dashed during a caution period triggered by a Brad Keselowski tyre blowout with 39 laps remaining.

With the majority of the field pitting, Harvick’s left-rear was tagged by SHR team-mate Almirola in the pitlane.

The two had to return to the pits for repairs. Almirola dropped to 28th and Harvick restarted the race in 30th.

Harvick was eventually able to recover to a fourth place finish behind Suarez, who successfully defended second in overtime, and Alex Bowman in third.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Bowman had consistently occupied a position in the top 10 throughout the day, ending stage one in ninth and stage two in fourth. He passed Jones after the #20’s failed attempt at taking second place.

Jones slipped to fifth place, finishing ahead of William Byron. The Hendrick driver had propelled himself into contention by choosing not to pit at the end of stage two and running a contra-strategy.

Chase Elliott was the third Hendrick Motorsports driver in the top seven in what was the team’s best result of the season.

Elliott won the opening stage and was fifth at the overtime restart before a snap of oversteer at Turn 2 cost him two positions.

Ryan Newman finished eighth, ahead of SHR’s Kurt Busch. The #41 driver recovered from a puncture early on and was one lap down halfway through the second stage.

Denny Hamlin finished in 10th, and ensured that all four JGR cars were in the top 10.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 164
2 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 164
3 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 164
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 164
5 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 164
6 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 164
7 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 164
8 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 164
9 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 164
10 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 164
11 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 164
12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 164
13 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 164
14 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 164
15 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 164
16 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 164
17 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 164
18 Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing Ford 164
19 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 164
20 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 164
21 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 164
22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 164
23 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 164
24 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 164
25 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 164
26 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 164
27 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 164
28 J.J. Yeley BK Racing Toyota 164
29 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 163
30 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 162
31 Kyle Weatherman StarCom Racing Chevrolet 161
32 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 161
33 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 153
34 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 148
35 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 146
36 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota 142
37 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 123
38 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 121
39 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 95
40 B.J. McLeod Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 77

Drivers’ standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 891
2 Kevin Harvick 843
3 Martin Truex Jr. 762
4 Joey Logano 690
5 Clint Bowyer 677
6 Kurt Busch 677
7 Brad Keselowski 644
8 Kyle Larson 626
9 Denny Hamlin 618
10 Ryan Blaney 612
11 Aric Almirola 587
12 Chase Elliott 569
13 Jimmie Johnson 547
14 Erik Jones 533
15 Alex Bowman 496
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 440
17 Paul Menard 440
18 Ryan Newman 408
19 Austin Dillon 402
20 Daniel Suarez 400
21 William Byron 390
22 Jamie McMurray 375
23 A.J. Allmendinger 338
24 Chris Buescher 325
25 Darrell Wallace Jr. 319
26 David Ragan 308
27 Kasey Kahne 306
28 Michael McDowell 305
29 Ty Dillon 279
30 Matt DiBenedetto 234
31 Trevor Bayne 185
32 Gray Gaulding 113
33 Matt Kenseth 108
34 Landon Cassill 97
35 Cole Whitt 87
36 D.J. Kennington 82
37 Corey LaJoie 75
38 Jeffrey Earnhardt 69
39 Brendan Gaughan 49
40 Reed Sorenson 41
41 Harrison Rhodes 23
42 Kyle Weatherman 16
43 Mark Thompson 15
44 Chris Cook 6
45 Tomy Drissi 5
46 Blake Jones 4
47 Derrike Cope 4
48 Danica Patrick 2
49 Cody Ware 1
50 Justin Marks 0
51 David Gilliland 0
52 Ray Black Jr. 0
53 Ross Chastain 0
54 J.J. Yeley 0
55 Parker Kligerman 0
56 Timothy Peters 0
57 Cole Custer 0
58 Joey Gase 0
59 Timmy Hill 0
60 B.J. McLeod 0
61 Daniel Hemric 0
62 Chad Finchum 0
63 Jesse Little 0
64 Garrett Smithley 0

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