Red-Hot Kyle Busch Wins Pocono Truck Race In Third Overtime
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
LONG POND, Pa. – As Kyle Busch sat sidelined with a broken right leg and left foot from February until May, the prevailing question was “When will he win again?”
Now it’s “Will he ever lose?”
In a race that began with major drama and ended with three overtime periods, Busch took the checkered flag in Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway, winning in his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start since returning from the Feb. 21 accident at Daytona that kept him out of action.
It was the fourth straight NASCAR national series victory for the driver of his own No. 51 Toyota. Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire on July 19 and swept last weekend’s XFINITY and Sprint Cup events at Indianapolis.
On Sunday he will try for his fourth straight Cup victory in the Windows 10 400 at Pocono (on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET).
With his fuel cell running low, Busch had to survive three straight attempts at green-white-checkered-flag finishes, with accidents interrupting the first two. Finally, on Lap 69—22.5 miles beyond the scheduled distance of 150 miles—Busch crossed the finish line 1.225 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick.
The victory was Busch’s first at Pocono in any series, and it marked the 10th straight year he has one at least one race in each of NASCAR’s top three touring series.
“It’s great to win and put Toyota in Victory Lane,” Busch said. “It’s my first Pocono win as well, so that was cool.”
Busch was happy he got to watch the last few restarts in his rear view mirror, rather than through his windshield.
“They weren’t too bad from my seat, but it looked like, beyond me, it was crazy back there,” Busch said. “I’m glad we were in a really good position.”
Behind Harvick, Tyler Reddick ran third and snatched the series lead from two-time defending champion Matt Crafton, who was embroiled in the early drama.
Crafton and Brad Keselowski, Reddick’s teammate and truck owner, were racing in close quarters on Lap 5 when Harvick took them three-wide to the inside. In what appeared to be a no-fault accident, the left-front of Keselowski’s Ford snagged the right rear quarter of Crafton’s Toyota.
Both trucks smacked the outside wall. After repairs, Crafton finished 28th, 56 laps in arrears. While his crew was working on the Tundra, Crafton fumed, blaming Keselowski for the wreck to the point of accusing the 2012 Sprint Cup champion of deliberately trying to help Reddick win the Truck Series title.
“I guess maybe he wants to win a championship with that 19 truck (Reddick),” Crafton said, vowing to prevent a Reddick championship from happening. “That’s your Cup champion? That’s pretty much an idiot.”
Keselowski dismissed Crafton’s comments, asserting he wouldn’t want to win a title by wrecking an opponent.
“I don’t know if I came down (the track) or he came up,” Keselowski said. “It’s unfortunate… These trucks are expensive, and they cost a lot to fix. I feel badly for Matt and his team, but I don’t really know what (I could have done) differently.”
Reddick leaves Pocono with an 11-point lead over Crafton. Polesitter Erik Jones, who battled Busch, his team owner, for most of the afternoon but was the victim of late contact that caused the fourth of five cautions, rallied to finish 10th and is third in the standings, 16 points behind Reddick.