Busch ends win­less sea­son with Cup vic­tory at Pocono

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAN GELSTON

LONG POND, PA. — Kyle Busch used a bump-and-run on Kevin Har­vick to take the lead and held on to snap a 36-race los­ing streak and win the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Race­way on Sun­day.

Busch won for the first time this sea­son in the No. 18 Toy­ota and won for the first time ever at Pocono. Busch had led more than 1,000 laps this sea­son en­ter­ing the race. He was rac­ing for the lead last week­end in the Brickyard 400 when he wrecked with Martin Truex Jr., which led to a pit road al­ter­ca­tion be­tween mem­bers of both teams.

Busch won from the pole and gave Toy­ota its 100th Cup win since its 2007 de­but.

Busch, the 2015 Cup cham­pion, had never gone a full sea­son with­out win­ning a race. Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way is now the only track where he’s failed to win.

“I never thought this day would hap­pen,” Busch said.

He also won his 176th ca­reer NASCAR race over the Cup, Xfin­ity and Truck se­ries.

“We’ve all been fight­ing all year long and just wasn’t sure why,” Busch said. “This is some­thing I’ve been wait­ing for for a long, long time. It’s been a frus­trat­ing year but an awe­some day to­day.”

Har­vick fin­ished sec­ond, fol­lowed by Truex, Denny Ham­lin and Brad Ke­selowski. Har­vick, who hasn’t won in 34 ca­reer races at Pocono, said he had noth­ing for Busch down the stretch.

Busch had seven top-five fin­ishes and was run­ner-up to Austin Dil­lon in the Coca-Cola 600. All the near misses have gnawed at Busch, who won the All-Star race. He won for the first time since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Busch earned a spot in NASCAR’s play­offs. There are just three open spots and five races left be­fore the field is set. THE BIG ONE An eight-car wreck on the first lap knocked Aric Almirola and Matt DiBenedetto out of the race. Matt Kenseth got loose and spun to trig­ger the ac­ci­dent.

Almirola missed two months of the sea­son with a frac­tured ver­te­bra suf­fered in a race at Kansas.

“Sort of a bum­mer not to even make a whole lap,” he said. JOHN­SON WRECK Jim­mie John­son wrecked and did not fin­ish for the third time in the last four races. John­son con­nected with Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports team­mate Kasey Kahne and was spun into the wall.

The seven-time Cup cham­pion also crashed out of the first Pocono race in June. DOU­BLE DUTY NASCAR held qual­i­fy­ing be­fore the race in­stead of ear­lier in the week­end. Pocono had no Cup cars on the track Fri­day dur­ing the con­densed sched­ule. NASCAR will try the two-day show again next week at Watkins Glen and Oct. 29 at Martinsville. UP NEXT The se­ries shifts to the road course at Watkins Glen. Denny Ham­lin is the de­fend­ing win­ner.

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