BUSH BEATS TEAMMATE FOR OT WIN AT POCONO
Kyle Bush continued his dominance of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, beating Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez for the win in overtime. The Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway ended with two late restarts, giving Suarez an opportunity to challenge the 2015 champion.
The first restart in the closing laps came following a caution for an accident involving Bubba Wallace. Wallace lost his brakes entering Turn 1 with six-to-go, slamming into the wall after steering the car into the Turn 1 grass, in hopes scrubbing speed before the inevitable hit. Wallace exited his Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, gingerly, after that violent hit, needing to take a seat against the wall to catch his breath before his visit to the infield care center.
When the final restart commenced in OT, Bush got the jump, capturing his sixth MENCS win of the season, tying Kevin Harvick in the win column. Harvick ended his day in the Pocono Mountains in the fourth position.
Suarez, who started the race from the pole, ended his day in second, 1.788 seconds behind his JGR teammate.
During post-race, Bush praised his teammate.
“Suarez, man, I can’t say enough about my teammate,” Busch said. “He was probably the third-best car. Harvick was the best car, and we were second-best car, and I think Suarez was the third-best car. He gave us a run for our money there on that last restart.”
“The last restart I spun my tires a little bit too much and he got a really good run. I think that gave (JGR teammate and fifth-place finisher Erik) Jones an opportunity to make it three-wide going into (Turn) 1. They got into racing (each other), and I kind of got away.”
Erik Jones, Bush and Suarez’ teammate, who locked up his place in the postseason in July at Daytona with a win, finished fifth at Pocono.
Win number six on the year for Bush tied him with Tony Stewart for 49 victories in the Cup series.
“That’s awesome. You keep reaching up the ladder, and you keep reaching more milestone drivers. Tony Stewart is one of the all-time best and one of the drivers I was a fan of growing up as well. It’s awesome to tie him,” Bush said.
Alex Bowman earned a career-best third at the Tricky Triangle, further solidifying his championship chase. With only five races remaining until the playoffs, three of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the playoffs on points. with William Byron on the outside looking in.
CHASE ELLIOTT BESTS TRUEX FOR CUP WIN #1
Chase Elliott, after eight finishes as a runner-up in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, finally earned the keys to victory lane. Elliott out-dueled 2017 MENCS champion, Martin Truex Jr.
The result at Watkins Glen, not only gave Elliott his first-career Cup victory, but his Hendrick Motorsports team the milestone of 250 victories at NASCAR’s highest level. Elliott’s triumph was the first celebration for HMS since Kasey Kahne won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis last season.
The duel between Elliott and Ttruex was fierce in the closing stages. Over the final 32 laps at the New York road course, Elliott and Truex ran bumper-to-bumper. As Elliott took the white flag, he wheel-hopped, going wide through Turn 1. Truex looked like he was going to pounce and earn back-to-back victories at the course. However, as Elliott worked to gather up his Chevrolet, with Truex poised for a pass for the lead, the most recent series champion, spun the tires on his Toyota as he got back in the gas. That gave Elliott a mulligan for his slip. Later on the final lap, Truex ran out of fuel, giving Elliott an uncontested finish over the final two corners.
At the celebration, Elliott was elated.
“Holy cow, I don’t know what to say — just so thrilled, so emotional, so much relief,” said Elliott, “Working on three years, I hadn’t won one…I came here with a great opportunity today, and I was able to get it done.” Elliott was able to breakthrough after 99 starts at the top-level of the sport.
After the excitement going left and right, NASCAR now heads to Michigan International Speedway, with only four races to the 2018 playoffs.
The newest episode of the Track Talk podcast, previewing HMS in the playoffs, and as they loom, is below.