WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Kyle Busch converted his pole starting position into his ninth stage win of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season on Sunday at Watkins Glen Int’l, leading every lap in the opening stint of the I Love New York 355 at the Glen.
Busch leapt out to the point over fellow front row starter Kyle Larson in the opening turns and never relinquished the top spot through the stage break, reaching the green-checkered flag a full five seconds up on the field.
The stage ran caution-free, seeing multiple drivers – including Michael McDowell, Matt Kenseth, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin – hit pit road in the final five laps of the stage in an effort to gain track position for the second stint.
Martin Truex Jr. charged past Larson in Turn 6 on the fourth lap, chasing Busch for the remainder of the stage before crossing the line in second.
Chase Elliott was third, while Larson faded to fourth with an ill-handling race car. Brad Keselowski trailed that duo in fifth.
Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.
Erik Jones, who ran inside the top five for most of the first stint and held off Keselowski for fifth for multiple laps, blew the bus stop with three to go before the stage break and crossed the line in 25th.
No more did Kyle Busch score the opening stage win, he reported a possible loose left front wheel to his crew and came back down pit road for a second round of service, giving up all his track position as a result.
The team reported that a lug nut was caught between the wheel and the caliper, causing the issue.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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