LONG POND, Pa — Recap by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America photo —
As of late, no one has been able to put out the fire that is Kyle Busch.
After winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, Busch held off the field late to take the victory in the sixth-annual Pocono Mountains 150.
The 30-year-old driver had enough gas left in his No. 51 Dollar General Toyota to hold on during the final attempt at a green-white-checkered and pick up his first series win since last November at Texas Motor Speedway.
Contact between Cameron Hayley (who restarted second) and defending race winner Austin Dillon on the final two-lap dash allowed Busch to scoot away from the field, ultimately holding a 1.225 second margin over fellow Sprint Cup invader Kevin Harvick at the finish.
The race went a total of nine laps beyond its scheduled 60-lap distance due to the green-white-checkered attempts.
The victory was Busch’s 43rd career NCWTS triumph and his seventh win across NASCAR’s three national series since returning from injuries suffered in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway in February.
“I had a really great Dollar General Tundra today,” Busch said of his machine. “It was really awesome. All these guys, Jerry Baxter and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports do a really good job of producing some really good stuff, so I wanted to get back out there and get my feet wet and kind of see exactly where we were at. I had fun today.”
“Pocono kind of been one of those places that hasn’t been all so great for us in the past, but today, it was a lot different than that.”
The two Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks of Busch and Erik Jones were the class of the field Saturday afternoon as the two pulled away from third. Jones took the lead on the initial start before Matt Crafton and Brad Keselowski came together in Turn 3 and crashed hard into the outside wall to bring out the race’s first caution.
Both drivers had differing views on the incident that shook up both the race and the points battle.
“He just hooked me in the right rear, that’s all there was to it getting into Turn 3,” said a frustrated Crafton. “I guess that’s maybe how he wants to win a championship with that 19 truck (Reddick). He’s got another thing coming though. I promise you that truck won’t win it. If that’s how he wants to do it, we’ll get it done.”
“I have no interest in coming to the Truck Series and wrecking someone on purpose,” countered Keselowski. “Tyler Reddick is doing a good job, but he has a ways to go to run with Matt. Matt’s an awesome driver and that’s a great team. The last thing I want to do is go out and wreck them. I want my team to earn it if they are to run up front. I have no interest in going out and wrecking someone intentionally and that’s not what happened.”
On the ensuing restart, Jones did not get up to speed well, allowing team owner Busch and former Pocono winner Kevin Harvick to power by the No. 4 truck. As the run went on, green flag pit stops cycled out and Busch flexed his muscle, Jones made his way by the No. 00 for second and set his sights on the 51 for the lead.
The finish was shaping up to be a classic owner-driver battle between Jones and Busch, as the full-time Camping World Truck Series driver began to run down his boss in the closing laps before the caution flew for debris with 11 laps to go, bunching the field up for the first time since lap 10.
Another caution, brought out when Wendell Chavous lost control of his No. 94 truck, over-corrected Turn 3 and slammed into the outside wall, set up the first green-white-checkered attempt of the afternoon. Rookie Ray Black Jr. was collected in the melee, hitting the inside guardrail, but climbed out of his car unhurt.
Jones appeared to have the better truck on the day and tried to make a four-wide move for the win on the first green-white-checkered restart. However, Austin Dillon made slight contact with Jones and sent him spinning down the Long Pond straightaway.
A subsequent crash between Mason Mingus and John Wes Townley both handed Busch the restart he needed to pull away for the win and allowed Jones to make up crucial spots on the race track. Because of Crafton’s troubles — despite his spin — the KBM driver finished 10th and sits third in points, just 16 markers behind new point leader Tyler Reddick.
“We got spun out and nothing you can really do about that,” Jones said. “It’s a solid day for us, overall and pretty good points day with the 88 getting wrecked, so hopefully we’ve made up some good points. We could’ve made up more with finishing first or second, but we’ll take it and it’s good to be running well here.”
“We weren’t very good here in the past, so we’ll move on to next week and see what we can do.”
Jones is flying to Iowa right after the race to compete in the the NASCAR XFINITY race at Iowa and looks to become the first driver to run both Pocono and Iowa in the same day.
With Jones’s misfortune, it allowed Harvick to get closer to the front by pitting for four tires to give one last shot for his JR Motorsports team. The defending Cup Series champ made his first Truck start since October 2013 at Martinsville Speedway and brought home the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet second at the checkered flag.
“We had an interesting weekend, to say the least,” Harvick said. “That’s kind of what I signed up for was to give some feedback and really help JR Motorsports and Cole [Custer] and everybody get their team situated on the bigger tracks. They do a great job on the short tracks and never really found exactly want we wanted, but the great part about it is that it’s progress and this 00 team can use that to push forward for the rest of the season.”
Reddick finished third to carry an 11 point margin over Crafton out of Pocono, with Cameron Hayley and Austin Dillon rounding out the top five.
Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters, Matt Tifft, Daniel Hemric and Jones completed the top 10.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on August 15 at Michigan International Speedway.
RESULTS: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Pocono Mountains 150; Pocono Raceway; August 1, 2015
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Tyler Reddick
- Cameron Hayley
- Austin Dillon
- Johnny Sauter
- Timothy Peters
- Matt Tifft
- Daniel Hemric
- Erik Jones
- Ben Kennedy
- Mason Mingus
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Spencer Gallagher
- Tyler Young
- Garrett Smithley
- John Wes Townley
- Jordan Anderson
- Kyle Martel
- Ryan Ellis
- Todd Peck
- Norm Benning
- Travis Kvapil
- Ray Black Jr.
- Wendell Chavous
- Jennifer Jo Cobb
- Korbin Forrister
- Matt Crafton
- B.J. McLeod
- Brad Keselowski
- Justin Jennings
- Caleb Roark