LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch dominated the opening stage of Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway, leading 30 of the first 50 laps from the pole en route to his eighth stage win of the season.
Busch, who entered the day third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings, beat fellow front row starter Martin Truex Jr. to the green-checkered flag by 1.110 seconds in an opening stint slowed just once by caution.
The Las Vegas native is seeking his first win of the season and first at Pocono.
“We are feeling the same characteristics as those guys as well (loose),” Busch said of the handling of his car. “We’re pretty fast, but we’ve got another one that’s right there with us (Truex). Our M&M’s Camry feels pretty good. It feels really good out front … hopefully we can get ourselves back up there where we need to and get what we can here.”
A multi-car, mid-pack crashed halted action on the opening lap, sparked when Matt Kenseth spun in Turn 3 while battling underneath Jimmie Johnson for position.
Kenseth going around in the middle of traffic sent cars scattering and spinning as they slowed to avoid the No. 20 Toyota, creating an accordion effect that saw Aric Almirola run into the back of Michael McDowell, causing terminal damage to his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, Matt DiBenedetto and Chris Buescher were also involved in the first-lap skirmish.
Racing resumed on the eighth round and saw Busch get away with a big lead over Truex, while early strategy saw Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and McMurray all make pit stops between laps 15 and 20 in an effort to find speed compared to Busch.
Truex forced Busch’s hand by coming down for service on lap 21, with Busch diving to the lane a lap later to stay on sequence.
That handed the lead to Erik Jones for three laps, then Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 11 and Kenseth for six before Busch ran down and drove past Kenseth to reclaim the point with nine to go before the stage break.
From there, it was Busch’s stage to win, with Truex chasing him all the way to the line ahead of the Ford trio of Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and June Pocono winner Ryan Blaney.
Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. incurred an early speeding penalty and finished the first stage in 27th.
About the Writer
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.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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