Shifty: Kyle Busch Overcomes Faulty Transmission For Dramatic Cup Series Win At Pocono

Kyle Busch celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro And Sons at Pocono Raceway (Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

With remarkable perseverance behind the wheel of a car stuck in fourth gear, Kyle Busch saved enough fuel to win Sunday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 350, the second leg of a weekend NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Pocono Raceway. 

After William Byron and Denny Hamlin ran out of gas ahead of him, Busch cruised to an 8.654-second victory over Kyle Larson, who started from the rear of the field in a backup car after crashing while leading in the final corner of Saturday’s race. 

Busch brought his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to pit road for the last time on Lap 95, one circuit after Hamlin and Byron—and that one lap of extra fuel made all the difference.

“Yeah, stuck in fourth gear, about out of gas, just saving, just riding, playing the strategy the best we could with what was given to us,” said Busch, who won for the second time this season, the fourth time at Pocono and 59th time in his career—most among active drivers and ninth all-time.

“Just can’t say enough about everybody on my team, everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota, TRD, all the work they’re putting in. 

“Sometimes these races aren’t always won by the fastest car, but I felt we had the fastest car, even though we were in the back and behind and having to come through and persevere through being stuck in fourth gear, no clutch, all that stuff. It’s all burned out. Nothing left in this M&M’s Minis Camry.

“Really great to pull off another win here at Pocono. Feels good.”

With the victory, Busch also snapped Hendrick Motorsports’ six-race Cup Series winning streak.

Larson, also on a fuel-saving strategy in the closing laps, rallied for a runner-up finish after early contact with Hamlin’s car dented the nose of his No. 5 Chevrolet. On a pit stop under caution, Larson’s crew raised the hood of the car, pounded out the damage and secured it with tape.

“It’s a surprising finish for us,” Larson said. “Our Chevy was really loose for a majority of the race. Then we got a lot of nose damage there on one of the restarts. Was off on speed, I felt like after that. 

“(Crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) and everybody did a really, really good job managing the race, coached me through saving fuel there at the end. Was hoping that the 18 (Busch) was going to run out. I saw the 11 (Hamlin) running out. I was, ‘OK, they’re teammates, they got to be close to running out.’

“The 18 did pit a lap after us under caution. That actually probably won them the race. But, yeah, second-place finish… I thought we would be outside of the top 20 (at) a lot of points throughout the race today. We’ll take it. Happy about the effort, for sure, all weekend.”

Brad Keselowski led a race-high 31 laps but had to pit for fuel on Lap 132 of 140. As drivers ran out fuel over the final three laps, Keselowski held third at the finish, one spot head of fellow Ford driver Kevin Harvick. 

“We ran a really good race but just didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end like those other guys did,” Keselowski said. “They beat us on power and fuel mileage. We have a lot of work to do to keep up with those guys.  

“I’m really proud of (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and the team. They had the setup really well, and it put us in position and we ran a great race today and maximized our day.”

Bubba Wallace ran fifth, the first top five for the 23XI team that debuted this year under the co-ownership of Hamlin and NBA superstar Michael Jordan.

Ryan Blaney, Saturday’s winner Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

Despite finishing 14th after running out of fuel, Hamlin retained the series lead by four points over Larson. Sunday was another hard-luck story for the driver of the No. 11 Toyota. 

“I mean, you’re trying to win or you’re trying to get the best finish that you can,” Hamlin said. “But ultimately, we just didn’t save enough. The 18 I think came in and got topped off because he had transmission issues. That was essentially the race.” 

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 48th Annual Explore the Pocono Mountains 350

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Sunday, June 27, 2021

               1. (19)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 140.

               2. (12)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 140.

               3. (11)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 140.

               4. (13)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 140.

               5. (7)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 140.

               6. (16)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 140.

               7. (20)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 140.

               8. (23)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 140.

               9. (10)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 140.

               10. (14)  Joey Logano, Ford, 140.

               11. (3)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 140.

               12. (18)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 140.

               13. (21)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 140.

               14. (17)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 140.

               15. (8)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 140.

               16. (5)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 140.

               17. (2)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 140.

               18. (32)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 140.

               19. (1)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 140.

               20. (15)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 140.

               21. (24)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 140.

               22. (37)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 140.

               23. (36)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 139.

               24. (38)  Cole Custer, Ford, 139.

               25. (27)  Justin Allgaier(i), Chevrolet, 139.

               26. (33)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 139.

               27. (9)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 139.

               28. (25)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 139.

               29. (30)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 138.

               30. (28)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 137.

               31. (22)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 136.

               32. (4)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 135.

               33. (31)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 135.

               34. (26)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 134.

               35. (34)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 132.

               36. (29)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 122.

               37. (35)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Handling, 113.

               38. (6)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Engine, 111.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  143.036 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 26 Mins, 49 Secs. Margin of Victory:  8.654 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 15 laps.

Lead Changes:  12 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Buescher 1-6;M. McDowell 7-13;M. Truex Jr. 14-32;B. Keselowski 33-45;K. Busch 46-73;B. Wallace 74-76;W. Byron 77-93;C. Bell 94-96;A. Bowman 97-114;B. Keselowski 115-132;W. Byron 133-137;D. Hamlin 138;K. Busch 139-140.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Brad Keselowski 2 times for 31 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 30 laps; William Byron 2 times for 22 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 19 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 18 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 7 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 6 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 3 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 3 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,10,2,12,23,34,47,8,99,22

Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,11,2,20,9,19,18,5,10,42


  1. Finally!
    Ryan got the good engine.
    Could not be happier on his finish.
    See you guys at the konk.

  2. The JTG cars are running Hendrick engines, but certainly not the “good stuff”, certainly not the same caliber that the Hendrick cars are running.

    The 37 ran a good race today, it was very nice to see.

  3. A busted transmission is death, a tranny stuck in 4th is impossible to deal with, Clutch gets welded together , somehow steps in s*#t and comes out smelling like a ROSE… Unreal. Crew Chief take a BOW for keeping team & Driver Focused on the race at hand & switching your Strategy to Save gas Save save save, No yellows also a Miracle !!! Restart would have killed their chances completely ….. Ben Beshore Take a BOW Ben Beshore I tip my hat to you … With all odds Stacked against you, You didn’t pack it in , you PIVOTED your Team and Driver on one and a million shot of hope, Guess what , You Won that million in one Shot !!! Too many times the Driver gets the Glory, This time I hope Fans see the Decision making of Ben Beshore was what WON THE RACE !!!!!

  4. Good news! The plan as of now for the 37 team is to run the entire season.

    No I refuse to look at the point standings I know it’s not good. Nor do I think it’s even relevant this year with the lack of charter and sponsor challenges. What is relevant is how often Preece and the 37 team exceed expectations. Preece has three top 10’s the same as Stenhouse who has the charter and had the full season sponsor commitment.
    In January and February it all looked so bleak. Fast forward to now. The Cup results and chance of a full season speaks for itself. Add to that his multiple appearances in local modified races with more and more competitive results and a truck series win. This has gone from bleak to a banner year in the space of 5 months.
    To all those predicting Preece’s fall from Cup a big raspberry to you. Preece is relentless as well as talented. The top 10 at Pocono huge on so many levels and people notice the non chartered, sponsor challenged team spoiling the big funded heavy hitters top 10 dominance.

  5. Doug I AGREE, Ryan is RELENTLESS ….!! Look who is behind him in the CUP POINTS…. Fully funded teams He is AHEAD OF Steward Hass , Ford Fenway Rouche Racing , That’s why He will get a rise somwhere .. RCR Steward Haas, He is showing them his work ethic and they are watching…

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