Kyle Busch moves into tie for 9th with 55th career Cup win
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
LONG POND, Pa. (AP) - Kyle Busch won at Pocono Raceway on Sunday to move into a tie for ninth on the NASCAR Cup Series victory list.
Busch, who topped 200 career wins across all three national series earlier this season, won for the 55th time in Cup and matched Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace on the list.
"Pocono's been a struggle but it's a lot better now," Busch said.
Busch had the dominant car down the stretch and won for the first time in nearly two months. Busch has spent most of the last few months complaining about NASCAR's current rules package designed to increase side-by-side racing and manufacture competition.
When he was back in the pack, Busch had no trouble passing the leaders at Pocono.
"I passed one guy on the outside of Turn 3 and that was the only guy I needed to pass, I guess," Busch said. "It was hard otherwise. We kind of got stuck in traffic back there a little bit earlier in the race. We were fifth or sixth and couldn't really do anything."
Busch took off on the final restart with nine laps left and cruised to the finish line for his 13th top-10 finish in 14 races this season. Busch and Martin Truex Jr. had been the class of the field this season but Truex was knocked out with an engine issue in the No. 19 Toyota. He had won three of the last five races. Kevin Harvick was nipping at a win until a botched pit stop and a cracked steering box took him out of contention.
Brad Keselowski was second and Erik Jones third.
It was another wildly successful day for Joe Gibbs Racing: Busch won, Jones was third and Denny Hamlin was sixth. Truex had a fast car and looked like a contender until his engine woes.
"I can't say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing," Busch said.
Hamlin opened the season with a win in the Daytona 500 in memory of J.D Gibbs, Joe's son who died earlier this year following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. JGR has been the class of NASCAR with a series-best nine wins and Gibbs was elected this month to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Here's what else happened at Pocono.
LET'S RACE TWO!
Pocono is to set host a Cup Series doubleheader weekend next season. The track traditionally has two NASCAR weekends but surrendered one to try the double June 27 and 28, 2020. The weekend will also include a Truck Series and Xfinity Series race, making it the busiest 48 hours in motorsports.
The Cup races will likely be shorter than the usual 400-milers run at the 2 1/2-mile track.
Pocono CEO Nick Igdalsky said it was his "full intention to lobby for the 400s." The track will hold two oval Cup races and Igdalsky said the track has "no intention" of switching one of the races to its road course configuration.
Igdalsky said NASCAR was still trying to figure out the qualifying procedures.
"It's an opportunity to do something pretty creative," Igdalsky said.
Igdalsky said Pocono was approached by NASCAR over the Daytona 500 weekend about the idea of running a twinbill.
"I feel this initiative is important enough where it would last for more than one year," he said. "Getting a one-year shot at this just doesn't seem realistic to me. I anticipate us trying this for a couple of years and see where it ends up."
Pocono said it will not raise ticket prices for next season, and kids 12 and under can still attend a race for free.
NASCAR recently announced the $2 billion purchase of International Speedway Corp., an aggressive move to gain control of key racetracks. The family-owned raceway is not for sale.
"Open for bids? Hell no," Igdalsky said. "I always like hearing the numbers, but I can't see any number that anybody would dangle in front of us that would make us interested. We love being a part of it. We're here to continue a legacy."
Truex was forced out of the race in the closing laps of the second stage because of engine trouble in the No. 19 Toyota. Truex had won three of the last five Cup races, and he failed to finish a race for the first time since the Daytona 500.
The series heads to Michigan International Speedway where Clint Bowyer is the defending race winner.
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