Busch ends winless season with Cup victory at Pocono
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.