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Kyle Busch Wins Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 | NASCAR Cup Series Recap

The NASCAR Cup Series finished off its Pocono doubleheader weekend on Sunday with the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350. This marked the 19th race of the 2021 season and the first race of the second half. Sunday’s race continued right where Saturday’s race left off in terms of strategy and excitement. In the end, the race came down to who saved the right amount of fuel and Kyle Busch was the one NASCAR driver who did it just right. The following NASCAR recap looks back on the wild afternoon that was.

Kyle Busch NASCAR Cup Series recap Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Raceway
Credit: Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Kyle Busch Wins at Pocono

Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Stage 1

Chris Buescher finished 20th yesterday, and so with the inverted starting grid, he led the field to the green flag today. Anthony Alfredo hit the wall and cut a tire down early to bring out the first caution of the race. Michael McDowell took the lead on the ensuing restart after Buescher missed Turn 1 badly. Martin Truex Jr. eventually got out from behind McDowell to take the lead.

Later, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson would make contact causing a little damage to both cars. Larson’s team got out the baseball bat on pit road to try and fix the damage. Truex scooted away from the field and went on to win Stage 1.

Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Stage 2

Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney both stayed out of the pits to lead the field back to the green for Stage 2. That was until they both ultimately had to pit under green and gave the lead to Kyle Busch. Busch was loving his car in this stage so much that he would sing a tune over the radio while driving!

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William Byron played the strategy game to jump ahead of Busch. It turned out that the No. 18 car had a transmission problem. It was actually stuck in fourth gear, an issue that resulted in a slow pit stop as it took more time for him to get back up to speed. Byron drove to the Stage 2 victory.

Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Final Stage

Byron led the drivers back to the green for the start of the final stage. Erik Jones cut down a tire in Turn 1 shortly after. He did manage to make it back to pit road, but not before NASCAR called caution number four of the day. Chase Elliott faked out on pitting under caution and, in doing so, slowed below caution speed and lost the lead to Christopher Bell. Alex Bowman played a little Deja Vu by taking the inside on the restart and took the lead coming out of Turn 1.

Ross Chastain and Bell would make contact, cutting a tire down for the No. 42. On the next lap, Elliott and Bell made contact and caused a lot of damage to both cars. There was no caution for the incident, however. Then, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. lost a cylinder and blew up his engine just as he was coming in for his pit stop with 30 to go.

The race ultimately came down to fuel mileage and strategy. William Byron came out of the pits first and had a big lead, but he did not save enough fuel and had to pit with just two laps to go. Denny Hamlin then took over the point, but he came up a lap short on gas and had to pit. That left Kyle Busch, who took the NASCAR checkered flag despite not being able to shift for the entire second half of the race.

Final Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 Thoughts

This is the type of racing that I miss seeing. We don’t see these fuel mileage gambles as often anymore because of the stages. Today it was brought back. It reminded me of the second Pocono race in 2015 in which several drivers ran out of fuel trying to make it to the end. You have to love these types of finishes. It is always fun to see who can make the strategies work and who doesn’t. On the Burnt Rubber Racing podcast this week, I said that I wasn’t really looking forward to either race at Pocono this weekend. Boy, was I put to shame!

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