Race Recap for the Pocono 325
Date: June 26, 2021
Event: Pocono 325 (Round 18 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 130 laps, broken into three stages (25 laps/52 laps/53 laps)
Start/Finish: 5th/2nd (Running, completed 130 of 130 laps)
Point Standing: 6th (606 points, 123 behind leader)
Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-25):
● Kyle Busch started fifth and finished first, earning 10 bonus points and one playoff point.
● Caution waved on lap nine for debris with Busch in fourth place. He reported that the No. 18 M&M’S Minis Toyota was “really good,” with good stability.
● Busch restarted in fourth place and quickly took over third.
● Caution waved on lap 14 for a single-car accident. Busch made a trip to pit road for four tires and fuel. He lined up third for the restart on lap 18.
● The M&M’S Minis driver took the lead for the first time on lap 19. He maintained the top spot to the conclusion of the first stage to pick up the stage win.
● The team made a pit stop during the caution for four tires and fuel. A number of teams exercised different strategies and stayed out during the stage break. This resulted in Busch lining up 15th to start the next stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 26-77):
● Busch started 15th and finished ninth, earning two bonus points.
● Busch quietly went to work, logging laps and patiently picking up positions. He was in ninth place on lap 46 when a number of teams that had yet to pit from the previous stage started making trips to pit road.
● The Las Vegas native was still in ninth place on lap 53 when caution was displayed. He reported that the M&M’S Minis Toyota started out a little too loose but slowly shifted to being too tight at the center of the turns through to the exits.
● A number of teams elected to pit during the caution. The No. 18 team elected to stay out, placing Busch in first place for the restart on lap 57.
● Busch maintained the top spot through the next handful of laps. The race was slowed by caution during that stretch. It was during the caution on lap 71 that the team elected to make a stop for four tires and fuel. Busch lined up 15th for the restart on lap 75 and raced back within the top-10 by the time Stage 2 concluded.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 78-130):
● Busch started ninth and finished second.
● The two-time NASCAR Cup champion settled in and went to work.
● Teams that did not stop between the second and final stages started making trips to pit road for service on lap 90. Busch started to climb up in the running order and was second by lap 94.
● The M&M’S Minis driver made his own trip to pit road on lap 97 for two tires and fuel. He returned to the track scored in 10th place.
● Caution slowed the race on lap 109 with Busch in fourth place. The three cars in front of him had yet to make trips to pit road for service. Once they all stopped, Busch was back in the lead.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 111 with Busch out front. He battled driver Kyle Larson for the lead and eventually settled in second place.
● Busch remained a fixture at the front of the field to the conclusion of the race, finishing in second place.
● Busch now has seven top-fives and 11 top-10s in the 18 races contested thus far in the 2021 NASCAR season.
● This marks Busch’s 10th top-five and 17th top-10 finish in 33 career starts at Pocono.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Minis Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“It was just impossible to pass today. We were a tick – just a little bit – slower than (Kyle) Larson, and we were able to hold him off. The 48 (Alex Bowman) held him off forever, and finally the 5 (Kyle Larson) got by and got away by 20 lengths or so. I was just dying tight behind those guys. I just could not do anything in traffic. We don’t have what we need to slice through traffic. Everybody’s hindered, but it seems to affect us a little bit more. Everybody on this M&M’S Minis Toyota Camry team did a good job. We made some good calls and had a fast car from the start – a good handling racecar. It felt good. We made small adjustments to it all day long, and that’s all we had to run with those Hendrick cars again. Still, we were best in class. Thanks to Rowdy Energy, Stanley, Interstate Batteries and Rheem. We will go get them again tomorrow.”
The second event of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Pocono is the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 on Sunday. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.