LONG POND, Pa. — Polesitter Kyle Busch rolled to an easy stage victory to kick off Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400, leading 33 of the first 50 laps in an incident-free run.
With no cautions to slow the pace, the only time Busch gave up the lead was when he pitted on lap 18, handing the top spot to Toyota stablemate Erik Jones.
Once Jones finally ceded the point at lap 35 to make his pit stop, Busch took the top spot back and never relinquished it again en route to his fourth stage win of the year.
Busch circled warm temperatures as being a major factor in the early stages of the race.
“It’s definitely way hotter today than it has been the last couple days,” Busch explained. “We’re seeing a bigger spike in fall off … with the lap times being slower. I’m not so sure that everybody expected that.”
“Being out front and being able to take the opportunity of winning the pole is a good thing so far, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up here.”
Kevin Harvick tried to chase down Busch in the closing laps of the stage, but had to settle for second at the green-checkered flag, 1.964 seconds in arrears of the No. 18 M&Ms Red, White and Blue Toyota.
Brad Keselowski finished third, just ahead of Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolets.
Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon completed the top 10 and all scored bonus points at the stage break.
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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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