Kyle Busch has tried everything he could to break his 36-race winless streak, which dated back to last season’s Brickyard 400 triumph.
But when it came down to it, it was a simple, slight nudge by Busch to push Kevin Harvick out of the way with 16 laps remaining to break the winless streak in Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway.
“Finally, eh?” Busch said over his team radio shortly after crossing the finish line.
Harvick had moved to the front of the field and passed Denny Hamlin on Lap 144 when, moments later, Busch nudged him aside just before the start-finish line to retake the lead.
Busch started the race from the pole and led 74 of the 160 scheduled laps, finishing with nearly a six-second margin of victory. The win was the 39th of his NASCAR Cup career.
“Never thought this day would happen,” Busch told NBCSN on the frontstretch after taking the checkered flag from the flag stand. “Such an awesome race car. We’ve been fighting all year long and weren’t sure why or what was next. This is something I’ve been waiting for a long, long time.”
The outcome marked two significant milestones:
- It was the 100th NASCAR Cup win for Toyota. And it was the 400th overall NASCAR win for Toyota (100 for Cup, 135 for Xfinity and 165 for Trucks)
- It also was Busch’s first career NASCAR Cup win at the Tricky Triangle, leaving just one track on the circuit (Charlotte Motor Speedway) that Busch has yet to win a Cup race at.
However, there was one slight negative to Busch’s win: NASCAR officials informed him in victory lane that he had one loose lug nut on his car, which means the team will likely face a $10,000 fine in the next few days. The No. 6 of Trevor Bayne and No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were also found to have loose lug nuts in post-race inspection.
The race didn’t even reach one completed lap when a major wreck occurred involving entering Turn 3. Matt Kenseth appeared to get loose, with several cars wrecking behind trying to avoid him, including Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell.
Almirola and DiBenedetto saw their day come to a quick end due to irreparable damage to their Ford Fusions.
“It’s frustrating we couldn’t make even one lap,” Almirola told NBCSN.
STAGE WINNERS: Kyle Busch won Stage 1 (his eighth of the season and fourth consecutive stage win over the last 3 races), while Clint Bowyer captured Stage 2, his first stage win of the season.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Even with being forced out of the way, Kevin Harvick still held on to a strong runner-up finish. … Clint Bowyer finished sixth and earned his first stage win of the season (won Stage 2). Bowyer has now earned four top-seven finishes in his last six starts.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Aric Almirola (finished 38th) and Matt DiBenedetto (37th) didn’t even finish one lap before their respective days ended early, being involved in a multi-car wreck entering Turn 3 on the opening lap. … Jimmie Johnson’s day ended after 57 laps when he bounced off teammate Kasey Kahne’s car and backed the No. 48 into the outside wall. … A drivetrain issue left Kyle Larson with a 33rd place finish.
NOTABLE: It’s been so long since Busch won a Cup race that he made a slight faux pas in victory lane. During his NBCSN interview, he said, “This is Toyota’s 100th Sprint Cup, uh, Monster Energy win. This is the first time I’ve been doing this (since Monster took over for Sprint as series entitlement sponsor this season), so I need a break.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s been a frustrating year but an awesome day today.” – Race winner Kyle Busch.
WHAT’S NEXT: I Love New York 355 at The Glen; Sunday, August 6, 3 p.m. ET, Watkins Glen International.