Kyle Busch faces tall task in trying to conquer Pocono Raceway

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A week after dominating at Indianapolis, Kyle Busch faces one of his toughest challenges.

Mastering Pocono Raceway.

As one of two active tracks (Charlotte being the other) the defending Sprint Cup Series champion has yet to win at, Pocono has been a thorn in Busch’s side since he first arrived there. With an average finish of 19.0 in 23 career starts, courtesy of just 85 laps led and eight top-10 finishes, it also ranks as one of Busch’s worst racetracks.

But after leading 149 laps at Indianapolis, which holds some similarity to the flat corners and long straightaways of Pocono, Busch is hoping his success carries over to the Pennsylvania 400.

“I’m looking forward to Pocono with our M&M’s 75th Anniversary Camry,” Busch said in a team release. “It’s a place where you run similar setups to Indy, but it still has its own unique challenges with just three turns as opposed to four. I think there’s a good opportunity for us to excel. If we could bring home two in a row and our first-ever win at Pocono, that would be something special, especially at a place I have yet to win at, so I would love to cross that one off the list.”

The good news for Busch is how strong he’s been of late. A year ago after winning at Indianapolis, Busch went to Pocono and captured his second career pole. He led 19 laps during the event and was out front on the white flag lap but ultimately finished 21st after running out of fuel.

Of his 23 starts, Busch has finished second at Pocono twice. He was also fourth in the inaugural Xfinity Series race at Pocono in June and was victorious last year in the Camping World Truck Series.

“I think I’ve been a bit inconsistent or streaky there over the years,” Busch said. “I started off early in my career with some top-five finishes and then went through a stretch where we weren’t very good. Lately, we’ve certainly been better there and I’ve had some second-place finishes and third-place finishes, so I feel like I’ve figured it out better there, lately. With the way our cars at JGR have been overall, I’m very optimistic that we could score a victory there this weekend with our M&M’s 75th Anniversary Camry.”

In the June Axalta 400, Busch crashed with 51 laps to go and finished 31st.

Follow @KellyCrandall