Toyota placed only three cars in the Top 10 at Pocono but the won the race again and that is all that matters. Kyle Busch didn’t win either of the first two stages, that honor went to Kyle Larson, but he won the race – again. And last time I checked, they handed out the trophy at the end of the race, not at the end of the stages.
The win puts Kyle Busch at the top of the charts with 4 wins and an incredible 13 Top 10 and 8 Top 5 finishes.
With passing at a premium, track position played a key role all day. Passing on pit road was just as important as passing on the track. For the most part, if you didn’t get the position you wanted on a restart, then you were relegated to struggling to find a passing opportunity during the race.
The low horsepower package with no shifting was new to Pocono, and the few fans that showed up, turning the race into a bit of a yawner. NASCAR has been blessed with several good races in a row leading to some growing expectations. But the larger, triangular shaped track was not one of the better races this season. The same package is going to Michigan this week and NASCAR says it expects a better race due to track configuration, but let’s just see about that.
Kyle Larson led 35 laps, won the first two stages and looked like he had a stout car and was one of the few drivers that found he could pass. Unfortunately, he tried to fit his car into a hole that wasn’t there, brushed the wall and his day was toast. Larson finished 26th. Teammate Kurt Busch finished 11th as Ganassi Racing continues to struggle.
The only other driver to lead significant laps was pole sitter William Byron. For the second week in a row, he gave Chevy and Hendrick Motorsports something to smile about. Byron led 25 laps and finished 9th and his teammate Chase Elliott finished 4th, the only two Chevy teams to crack the Top 10.
On a somewhat positive note for Chevy, youngsters Daniel Hemric, Chris Buescher and Alex Bowman finished 13, 14 and 15th respectively. While perhaps more is expected of Bowman, a Top 15 run for the other two isn’t bad given the circumstances. Since Chevy had been seeing a stretch of better Top 10 finishes for its teams, Pocono was a set back.
Ford finished strong with 5 cars in the Top 10 including first loser, Brad Keselowski. Kes led 4 laps but had nothing to run down Kyle Busch with.
Kevin Harvick finished 22nd after an unattended wheel on pit road put him a lap down. Mired in traffic, he never really had anything to show the rest of the day, which is sad, because he had some power in his Chevy. I am not sure if he had enough to overtake Kyle Busch but that would have been fun to watch.
Harvick is no slouch at Michigan, winning the last race there in August. Clint Bowyer won this race in June so you can be sure he looking to repeat that performance. Keselowski is good here as is Chase Elliott. But the man they will all be chasing is Kyle Busch who comes in with 4 straight Top 10 finishes. The driver who thinks his job – no, his expectation — is to go out and win the race and anything less is a bad day. As much as Busch despises this new race package, he is obviously the king of making to work in his advantage right now. And until someone else knocks him off of his perch, he will remain there.