LONG POND, Pa. — A strategic pit call by Adam Stevens carried Kyle Busch to his first-ever Pocono Raceway win on Sunday afternoon, breaking Busch’s career-long 36 race winless drought in the process.
Stevens kept Busch on the race track for nine additional laps after then-leader Martin Truex Jr. pitted under green with 34 to go, banking on Busch being able to use fresher tires to run the frontrunners back down in the final stages of the Overton’s 400.
Busch peeled off for his last stop with 25 laps remaining, turning up the wick and letting loose as Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. raced ahead of him in their own efforts to try and win the race.
And as car after car peeled off ahead of him for service, the call began to look more and more like a winning one.
When Brad Keselowski finally pitted from the race lead with 19 laps to go, the race was on, with Hamlin making a quick pass to lead Harvick, Truex and Busch.
Busch made an immediate pass of Truex to take over the third spot, charging from a second back in just a lap to close on the back bumper of Harvick for the runner-up position.
With 17 to go, Harvick charged to the inside of Hamlin entering Turn 1 to take the lead, but Busch followed him through to second and lined up on Harvick’s tail in an effort to blow by for the win.
That move came on the exit of Turn 3, when Harvick got loose, Busch made slight contact with the back quarter of the No. 4 and scooted through to take the top spot away for good.
Busch’s fresher tires truly shined in the final 17 laps he led, as he pulled out to a 6.178 second victory over Harvick in the end.
“I never thought this day would happen,” Busch admitted of both getting back to victory lane and winning at Pocono. “We had such an awesome race car today and Adam Stevens and all these guys on this No. 18 team … they never give up. They’ve been fighting all year long; we’ve all been fighting all year long and just wasn’t sure why we’d lose these races or what was next.”
“Obviously, this is a great day for us, a great day for all of our fans and a great day for Toyota as well.”
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