By Harvey Hoffman and the Associated Press
Kyle Busch had a fried clutch and only one gear and but he came through in the clutch — even when he raced without one — and raced to his second Cup victory of the season in he Pocono 350 at Long Pond, PA.
“Put as much as gas in it as we can, pack that thing full — we’re going to run it out the rest of the day,” Busch said.
Busch stretched his fuel in his broken Toyota and outlasted late leaders William Byron and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin as they saw their shot at the checkered flag disappear over the final few laps when they ran out of gas.
“Sometimes these races aren’t always won by the fastest car,” Busch said.
“We’re going down the front straightaway and I’m like, ‘Damn, I wish I could clutch it,'” Busch said. “I didn’t have one. I probably could have done a better job saving fuel, but I was just lifting off the gas instead of being able to clutch it.”
Busch raced without a care early and sang a few bars of “Fly Like an Eagle” over the radio. His 59th career Cup victory will go down as one of Busch’s greatest hits. NASCAR’s career wins leader in all series has 100 in Xfinity and 61 in Trucks.
Kyle Larson, whose blown tire on the last lap cost him a win Saturday, was second for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick had won six straight Cup races, capped by Bowman’s third win over his past 10 races.
Hendrick was trying to become the first team since NASCAR’s modern era began in 1972 to win seven straight races.
Bowman started the streak in May at Dover and Chase Elliott followed the next week at Texas. Larson then ripped off three straight points victories at Charlotte, Sonoma and last week at Nashville — and squeezed in the $1 million All-Star race for four wins total — all while Hendrick Motorsports became the winningest organization in NASCAR history.
Brad Keselowski was third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Bubba Wallace was fifth in his best finish of the season for Michael Jordan’s 23IX team.
Hamlin faded to 14th.
“Fuel mileage got us the last two weeks,” Hamlin said. “We can’t see the checkered right now.”
The checkered flag went to Busch, in a fortuitous way, thanks to the transmission woes that forced him to pit and top off his tank.
“We would have never been in that position if we didn’t have the trans stuck,” Busch said. “We got all we could get out of it with everything that was going on.”