Kyle Busch’s winless streak is over.
“It’s been a frustrating year but an awesome day today,” Busch said. He’s had the fastest car many times in 2017, but circumstances haven’t broken right for a victory. At least until Sunday.
Busch pitted later than the other three drivers did on the race’s final green flag run. The move meant Busch lost track position in the short term as Hamlin led the race thanks to his faster lap times on fresher tires while Busch was on older tires.
But Busch’s car was fantastic after the pit stop. And with the help of fresher tires compared to the drivers ahead of him, he passed all three with ease, even moving Harvick out of the way in turn three to take the lead with 16 laps to go.
If you wanted further proof of how good Busch’s car was over the final stint, he ended up pulling away for a six-second victory. Harvick was second while Truex was third. Hamlin and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
The win at Pocono not only snaps the longest win streak of Busch’s career but means Charlotte Motor Speedway is the only track he hasn’t scored a points victory at in the Cup Series. He started on the pole for Sunday’s race and controlled the first parts of it.
Busch’s car faded a bit during the middle but had the same speed it had at the beginning late in the race. During the June race at Pocono, Busch started first but his car faded late as he was unable to hold off Ryan Blaney in the waning laps of the race.
And while the 36-race winless streak equates to an entire season of Cup Series points races, it was no surprise that Busch got a win this summer. He had by far the fastest car last week at Indianapolis — leading 87 of 110 laps — before he crashed with Truex while the two were racing for the lead after a restart.
He also entered Sunday’s race third in the points standings, so it was a virtual guarantee Busch was going to be in the playoffs with or without a win. Now he’s a lock with five races to go before NASCAR’s postseason begins and the 13th different winner in the season’s first 21 races.
The 13 winners mean there are just three playoff spots available for winless drivers in the points standings. Those three drivers provisionally in the playoffs via their points position are Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.
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