Pocono Race 2 Delivers Another Stunning Finish as Kyle Busch Takes Win

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Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA — June 27, 2020

The 2nd race of the Pocono doubleheader will have to go a long way to match the drama of Saturday afternoon’s 1st event. Alex Bowman’s last-lap pass for the win after Kyle Larson blew a tire entering the final turn, has barely had time to sink in. Regardless of what occurred, today is a new day and every driver is anxious to write their own spectacular finish in the “Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.”

Today’s race is 25 miles longer than the 325 miles drivers put in yesterday. Adding a new wrinkle, the top 20 finishers were inverted. Chris Buescher(17) starts on the pole with Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell(34) beside him. Alex Bowman(48) starts in 20th and the unluckiest guy at the track, Kyle Larson(5), starts from the rear after going to a backup car.

Kyle Larson waits by his backup car for the start of the race. / NASCAR Photo

The extra 10 laps were added incrementally to each segment of today’s race with Stages of 30/55/55 laps making up the 140 laps to be run. Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion, he starts in the 17th position after a strong run in Race #1.

Stage 1

Buescher took advantage of his starting spot and drove off into Turn 1 out front. It did not take long for the action to get wild, Anthony Alfredo(38) hit the wall out of Turn 2 when his right front tire went down on the 2nd lap. Two days racing, two wrecked cars, it was an expensive weekend for the driver nicknamed “Fast Pasta” and his Front Row Motorsports team.

On the restart, Buescher got loose and drove high into Turn 1 allowing McDowell to pass for the lead. Martin Truex Jr.(19), Christopher Bell(20), Aric Almirola(10), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) followed as Buescher quickly dropped back to mid-pack.

Almost halfway through the 1st Stage, Truex took the lead. The biggest mover early was Kyle Busch(18) racing his way into the Top 10 after starting 19th.

Several drivers opted to pit before the pits were closed two laps before the end of the Stage. Track position is so important at Pocono teams are willing to gamble on off-cycle pit stops in an attempt to gain an advantage.

Truex drove to the Stage win, Bowman finished 15th and Larson could only manage a 16th place finish after starting last.

Stage 1 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 19 Martin Truex Jr. 10
2 10 Aric Almirola* 9
3 2 Brad Keselowski* 8
4 12 Ryan Blaney* 7
5 23 Bubba Wallace 6
6 34 Michael McDowell* 5
7 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 4
8 8 Tyler Reddick 3
9 99 Daniel Suarez 2
10 22 Joey Logano* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

Out front on the restart were those cars that pitted early prior to the end of Stage 1 or stayed out trying to stretch their fuel to the max.  Brad Keselowski(2), Ryan Blaney(12), Bell, Kyle Busch, and William Byron(24) made up the Top 5.

Kyle Busch was complaining of his transmission jumping out of gear and having to hold the shifter to prevent it from happening. Teams were forced to start this race with the same drivetrain they completed yesterday’s 325 laps with.

Keselowski and Blaney pitted on Lap 47, giving the lead to Kyle Busch. Just 5 laps later Blaney was back into the pits for a four-tire change as a result of a loose wheel. Blaney went two laps down with the extra stop.

With 25 laps to go in Stage 2, Kyle Busch maintained the lead followed by Byron, Bell, Hamlin, and Chase Elliott(9). Green flag pit stops began with 20 laps to go, Kyle Busch ran eight extra laps and pitted with 12 laps left in the stage.

Busch lost a lot of time because his car is stuck in 4th gear, getting back to speed exiting the pits took way too long. The problem will also appear on restarts. It appears the mechanical problem will cost Kyle Busch a shot at the victory.

When service stops cycled through Byron was out front, followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Bell, and Elliott. Kyle Busch dropped to 9th in the running order as a result of his shifting problems. Larson had worked his way up to 7th in the closing laps of the Stage.

Byron got the Stage win and the race may come down to a fuel mileage battle as the pit strategy has opened up multiple options for the Final Stage.

Stage 2 Results

Position Car Driver Points
1 24 William Byron 10
2 11 Denny Hamlin 9
3 2 Brad Keselowski* 8
4 20 Christopher Bell 7
5 9 Chase Elliott 6
6 19 Martin Truex Jr. 5
7 18 Kyle Busch 4
8 5 Kyle Larson 3
9 10 Aric Almirola* 2
10 42 Ross Chastain 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

During the Stage ending pit stops, Kyle Busch’s crew attempted to repair the shifter issues with his car. They were unsuccessful, Busch rejoined the race at the back of the pack and will have to struggle through to the finish.

The Final Stage

On the first lap after the restart, Cole Custer(41) got into Erik Jones(43) on the exit of Turn 1. Severe damage to the Jones’ car forced him to limp back to the pits and NASCAR displayed the caution. Most of the field took the opportunity to pit with 46 laps to go, hoping to stretch fuel economy and avoid a final stop late in the race.

Back to racing and who drives off into the lead? Alex Bowman, just like yesterday, comes to the front late. Ross Chastain(42), Bell, and Elliott get together while scrambling for positions. All three are forced to come to the pits for repairs under green, likely costing them a shot at the race win.

Alex Bowman led late in Sunday’s race from Pocono Raceway / NASCAR Photo

With 35 laps to go the Top 5 are Bowman, Kevin Harvick(4), Keselowski, Blaney, and Tyler Reddick(8). How will the fuel story play out? The drivers with the most fuel based on their last stops are Kurt Busch(1) in 6th, Byron in 7th, and Hamlin in 9th.

Blaney was the first to pit, with 33 laps to go, dropping him out of the lead pack. Harvick came in with 28 to go. Byron passed Busch and is now the leader of those cars expected to try and make it to the finish without another stop.

Bowman gave up the lead with 24 to go to get fuel and two tires on his stop, making Keselowski the new leader. Reddick pitted with 22 to go, Keselowski pitted with 8 laps to go for a splash of fuel. He returned to the track in 7th position.

The Finish

Byron, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Larson, and remarkably Kyle Busch are the Top 5 with the laps winding down. Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Larson picked up their pace, passed Kurt Busch, and began to track down Byron who held a 1.5-second lead.

Byron ran out of fuel and pitted with 2 laps to go and Hamlin went to the front. Hamlin ran out with 1 lap to go and Kyle Busch inherited the lead. Unbelievably, the guy with the broken transmission shifter squeezed out enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag.

Larson finished 2nd, followed by Keselowski, Harvick, and Bubba Wallace(23).

Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Status
1 Kyle Larson 759 In Win(4)
2 Martin Truex Jr. 606 In Win(3)
3 Alex Bowman 543 In Win(3)
4 Kyle Busch 650 In Win(2)
5 William Byron 690 In Win
6 Joey Logano* 651 In Win
7 Chase Elliott 633 In Win
8 Ryan Blaney* 586 In Win
9 Brad Keselowski* 569 In Win
10 Christopher Bell 424 In Win
11 Michael McDowell* 419 In Win
12 Denny Hamlin 761 +334
13 Kevin Harvick* 585 +158
14 Austin Dillon 518 +91
15 Tyler Reddick 475 +48
16 Kurt Busch 430 +3
NASCAR Playoffs Cut Line
17 Chris Buescher* 427 -3
18 Daniel Suarez 382 -48
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 376 -54
20 Bubba Wallace 376 -54
21 Matt DiBenedetto* 370 -60
22 Ross Chastain 358 -72
23 Ryan Preece 329 -101
24 Ryan Newman* 327 -103
25 Chase Briscoe 314 -116

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 from Pocono Raceway

Position Car Driver Interval Laps
1 18 Kyle Busch 140
2 5 Kyle Larson 8.654 140
3 2 Brad Keselowski 11.143 140
4 4 Kevin Harvick 11.805 140
5 23 Bubba Wallace 14.428 140
6 12 Ryan Blaney 15.279 140
7 48 Alex Bowman 16.088 140
8 37 Ryan Preece 17.725 140
9 8 Tyler Reddick 18.862 140
10 22 Joey Logano 22.543 140
11 19 Martin Truex Jr. 25.192 140
12 24 William Byron 26.279 140
13 3 Austin Dillon 26.882 140
14 11 Denny Hamlin 27.565 140
15 99 Daniel Suarez 32.076 140
16 10 Aric Almirola 32.897 140
17 34 Michael McDowell 33.989 140
18 21 Matt DiBenedetto 37.038 140
19 17 Chris Buescher 37.363 140
20 1 Kurt Busch 40.623 140
21 14 Chase Briscoe 41.754 140
22 6 Ryan Newman 44.831 140
23 7 Corey LaJoie -1 139
24 41 Cole Custer -1 139
25 77 Justin Allgaier -1 139
26 42 Ross Chastain -1 139
27 9 Chase Elliott -1 139
28 51 Cody Ware -1 139
29 78 BJ McLeod -2 138
30 15 James Davison -3 137
31 43 Erik Jones -4 136
32 20 Christopher Bell -5 135
33 0 Quin Houff -5 135
34 38 Anthony Alfredo -6 134
35 52 Josh Bilicki -8 132
36 53 Garrett Smithley -18 122
37 66 Timmy Hill -27 113
38 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -29 111