Kyle Busch Drives From Back to Front to Win at Pocono Racway

With his win of the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, Kyle Busch matched Kevin Harvick in 2018 NASCAR wins with six.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander Outdoors 400
Chris Trotman—Getty Images

Kyle Busch matched Kevin Harvick with his sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2018 season Sunday in the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway. He did so after starting from the back of the grid despite posting the second-fastest qualifying lap on Saturday, when his car was one of 13 to fail post-qualifying inspection.

"What an awesome race," Busch said. "My Toyota Camry was awesome. Had a lot of speed, but man, we fought it all weekend."

Harvick’s car also failed inspection Saturday after being the fastest in qualifying, so, like Busch, he started much farther back. Harvick, Busch and several of the others with qualifying inspection issues worked their ways toward the front, but Harvick was the first to do so. He was inside the top-10 of the running order by Lap 10, and by the end of the first stage on Lap 50, he was up to second.

Harvick took his first lead on Lap 65 and won the second 50-lap stage, but he was nearly back to where he started the race after two pit stops during a caution just past Lap 120 and another pit stop during the final caution with 35 laps to go. As a result of the extra stops, he restarted in 27th.

By that time, Busch was up front. He took his first lead with just under 50 laps remaining and maintained that lead for the remainder of the race.

Chase Elliott was the winner of the opening stage after taking the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 40. Previously, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin combined to lead most of the opening laps after sharing the front row of the starting grid. Suarez finished the race in the second position to give Joe Gibbs Racing the one-two and claim his career-best finish to date.

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Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin on the front row

Daniel Suarez [19] and Denny Hamlin [11] lead the field to the green flag for the Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2018.

"I thought we were a solid top-three car," Suarez said. "I felt like in the short run, we were actually the best car. I was better than the 18 [Busch]. It's a little disappointing."

Alex Bowman also scored a career-best in third.

“We really struggled all week,” Bowman said. “But then, the boss man [team owner Rick Hendrick] showed up and, magically, we got better today. Really glad for Axalta and to have the Eagles on the car in Pocono close to Philly is pretty special. Wish we wouldn’t have got such a bad last restart. Kyle said to wait for a hand out the window and the hand never came, so he kind of snookered me there, but it’s all good. I’m just glad we are kind of headed in the right direction.”

The yellow flag waved seven times throughout the race, with the second-to-last caution coming with about six laps remaining in the scheduled distance when Darrell Wallace Jr. experienced a brake failure that sent him hard into the wall. Wallace walked under his own power from his wrecked race car to an ambulance slowly with a slight limp. The race was red-flagged for several minutes to allow track clean-up and for personnel to remove debris from the track’s SAFER barrier.

Spins by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola on Lap 150 sent the race into overtime. By that time, Harvick was sixth in the running order for the final restart with two laps remaining. He got up to fourth by the checkered flag.

“It was eventful,” Harvick said. “I think we went to the back twice and made our way back to the front each time. We made a good race out of it, but it is hard to swallow on a day like that when our Mobil 1 Ford was the class of the field. You never know what is going to happen on these days. It is hard to put them together, and you win some and lose some.”

GANDER OUTDOORS 400 RESULTS:
1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
2. Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Toyota
3. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet
4. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford
5. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota
6. William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet
7. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet
8. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet
9. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Ford
10. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
11. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford
12. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
13. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet
14. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet
15. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota
16. Michael McDowell, No. 24 Ford
17. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
18. Matt Kenseth, No. 6 Ford
19. David Ragan, No. 38 Ford
20. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet
21. Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford
23. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet
24. Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet
25. Aric Almirola, No. 10 Ford
26. Joey Logano. No. 22 Ford
27. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford
28. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota
29. Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 96 Toyota
30. Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Chevrolet
31. Kyle Weatherman, No. 99 Chevrolet
32. Reed Sorenson, No. 7 Chevrolet
33. Darrell Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevrolet
34. Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet
35. Ross Chastain, No. 15 Chevrolet
36. Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota
37. Chris Buescher, No. 37 Chevrolet
38. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford
39. Corey LaJoie, No. 72 Chevrolet
40. B.J. McLeod, No. 51 Chevrolet

UP NEXT:
Only five races remain in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season with Watkins Glen International in New York up next on August 5. It’s the second road-course race of the season and the 22nd race overall of the 36-race season. Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. won at Watkins Glen last year.