What can you say about Kyle Busch? He goes out and wins the truck race and then follows up with a strong performance in the Cup race. If it had been possible for him to race and win the Xfinity race in Iowa, I am sure he would have gone out and done that too.
First of all, let’s give a big shout out to Bubba Wallace who took a devastating, high speed hit into the SAFER barrier at nearly 200 mph. Wallace’s brakes failed and he cut into the infield to try and scrub off some speed. After smacking the wall and destroying his car, Wallace sat still in the car for nearly 30 seconds before dropping the window net. The Safety crew with an EMT took almost 45 seconds to reach his car and the ambulance another 30 seconds. That seemed like an eternity while you watched to see if he was OK. Pocono has seen its share of scary wrecks over the years so it was good to see Wallace come out of this with just minor injuries.
Kevin Harvick fans were left wanting on Sunday. Harvick and Busch both failed post-qualifying inspection and had to start at the rear along with 11 other drivers. On top of that, Harvick lost 10 championship points. Ouch.
Those two inspection failures gave Daniel Suarez the first pole of his Cup career. Suarez was able to stay with the leaders all day and ultimately finished a career best second.
Harvick led 30 laps and had a fast car but his penalty cost him pit selection, putting him in position to get tangled up on pit road. Which he did with teammate Aric Almirola. Which may have cost him the race and the overall points lead. Harvick went on to finish 4th.
While the win eventually went to Busch, some younger drivers stepped it up this weekend. Alex Bowman finished a career best 3rd, Erik Jones 5th, William Byron 6th and Chase Elliott 7th. In addition, you might have noted that Chevrolet placed 4 cars in the Top 10 and 6 in the Top 15. Both Toyota and Ford placed 5 in the Top 15. While it was not a win, that is a step in the right direction for a manufacturer that has been struggling with its new car body.
On a side note, Chase Elliott won Stage 1, Harvick Stage 2. Kyle Busch won the day as the best driver on a restart on the track. That guy can flat our get it done when it is on the line.
Disappointing was Team Penske this weekend. Brad Keselowski has viewed each remaining week as “Must Win” week and Pocono looked like a place he might shine. Unfortunately not only did Bad Brad end the day off track in 38th, Logano placed 26th leaving Ryan Blaney to best teammates in 12th. Paul Menard ended the day 21st.
Kyle Larson had a lackluster day finishing 23rd and teammate Jamie McMurray 20th. McMurray started 5th so he started with some speed, but Larson qualified 32nd. That is highly unusual for what has been one of Chevy’s best finishing drivers in Larson. Either they were trying something out or they just weren’t able to find the speed they usually have.
With the teams heading to Watkins Glen, Martin Truex, Jr. is the defending race winner. If he can notch this one, he will have 5 wins to Busch and Harvick’s 6. Otherwise, this is a huge opportunity for someone else to make a stand for the playoffs battle. If Team Penske wants to get out from under the shadows, this week is it. If AJ Allmendinger wants another win, this is his week to really step it up and not forget how to shift. If Denny Hamlin wants to prove himself a contender, this is the time.
The battle between the top 3 drivers has been a real treat to watch this season. You don’t get this every year. We are watching NASCAR history in the making folks. And Watkins Glen should be a great race.
(Image courtesy of NASCAR Media)