Kyle Busch wins Pocono truck race

As Kyle Busch sat sidelined with a broken right leg and left foot from February until May, the prevailing question was "When will he win again?"

Now it's "Will he ever lose?"

In a race that began with major drama and ended with three overtime periods, Busch took the checkered flag in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway, winning in his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start since returning from the Feb. 21 accident at Daytona that kept him out of action.

It was the fourth straight NASCAR national series victory for the driver of his own No. 51 Toyota. Busch won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 19 at New Hampshire and swept last weekend's XFINITY and Sprint Cup events at Indianapolis.

On Sunday he will try for his fourth straight Cup victory in the Windows 10 400 at Pocono (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM).

With his fuel cell running low, Busch had to survive three straight attempts at green-white-checkered-flag finishes, with accidents interrupting the first two. Finally, on Lap 69 — 22.5 miles beyond the scheduled distance of 150 miles — Busch crossed the finish line 1.225 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick.

The victory was Busch's first at Pocono in any series, and it marked the 10th straight year he has one at least one race in each of NASCAR's top three touring series.

"It's great to win and put Toyota in Victory Lane," Busch said. "It's my first Pocono win as well, so that was cool."

Busch was happy he got to watch the last few restarts in his rear view mirror, rather than through his windshield.

"They weren't too bad from my seat, but it looked like, beyond me, it was crazy back there," Busch said. "I'm glad we were in a really good position."

Behind Harvick, Tyler Reddick ran third and snatched the series lead from two-time defending champion Matt Crafton, who was embroiled in the early drama.

Crafton and Brad Keselowski, Reddick's teammate and truck owner, were racing in close quarters on Lap 5 when Harvick took them three-wide to the inside. In what appeared to be a no-fault accident, the left-front of Keselowski's Ford snagged the right rear quarter of Crafton's Toyota.

Both trucks smacked the outside wall. After repairs, Crafton finished 28th, 56 laps in arrears. While his crew was working on the Tundra, Crafton fumed, blaming Keselowski for the wreck to the point of accusing the 2012 Sprint Cup champion of deliberately trying to help Reddick win the Truck Series title.

"I guess maybe he wants to win a championship with that 19 truck (Reddick)," Crafton said, vowing to prevent a Reddick championship from happening. "That's your Cup champion? That's pretty much an idiot."

Keselowski dismissed Crafton's comments, asserting he wouldn’t want to win a title by wrecking an opponent.

"I don’t know if I came down (the track) or he came up," Keselowski said. "It’s unfortunate …These trucks are expensive, and they cost a lot to fix. I feel badly for Matt and his team, but I don't really know what (I could have done) differently."

  • Toyota driver Kyle Busch was victorious in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Pocono Raceway.
  • Busch, making his first series start of the season, started second and led the field twice for 53 laps (of 69) en route to his 43rd career NCWTS victory.
  • The win also marks the first NCWTS victory for Toyota at Pocono Raceway and Busch’s first triumph at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania track.
  • Busch has won five of the last six NASCAR national series races he’s competed in, including four consecutive victories (New Hampshire-NSCS, Indianapolis-NXS and NSCS, Pocono-NCWTS) and will start from the pole position in Sunday’s NSCS race at Pocono.

KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Dollar General Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports

Finishing Position: 1st

How thrilled are you to be back in victory lane again?

“This is really, really cool. I just can’t say enough about everyone from Dollar General and everyone there that does such an awesome job helping us out and sponsoring us. M&M’s – they’re a great part of that program too. This Toyota Tundra was awesome today so I thank Toyota of Scranton for helping us out. It’s certainly fun to win here for them and great to win and put Toyota in victory lane for the first time in the Truck Series here and my first Pocono win as well so that was really cool. KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) chassis was great today with this Joe Gibbs Racing engine. I just can’t say enough about Camping World and the fans. Thank you guys very much. I appreciate you being here."

What were the restarts like down the stretch?

“Well, they weren’t too bad from my seat but it looked like from beyond me it was crazy back there so I’m glad we were in a really good position. I hate it that (Erik) Jones kind of got washed out on that one restart with a couple to go and I felt like he was definitely the second best truck. Maybe even the first best truck, I don’t know if I could’ve passed him if he was leading. The restarts just didn’t go his way today. Restarting on that outside lane was a benefit I think for at least getting down into Turn 1. Past that it was good to be single file for us and we didn’t have to battle with too many guys there back behind us."

What were some tricks that you were able to do to keep enough fuel in your gas tank?

“One of the biggest things I think is just under yellows you’re able to just shut the engine off and it doesn’t even run at all. Typically your street car varying what kind of street car you have are going to go about 25 to 30 miles to the gallon right? These things here they are only about five. The more you can shut the engine off because them things are gas guzzlers then the better off your going to be."

How did it feel to get back to victory lane in your Tundra?

“Yeah, it was really fun. I had a great Dollar General Tundra today. It was really awesome. All of these guys – Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and all of these guys at Kyle Busch Motorsports do a really good job of producing some really good stuff. It was just wanted to get back out there and get my feet wet and just kind of see exactly where we were at. I had fun today. Of course, I guess you always do when you run upfront and you win. Pocono has kind of been one of those places that hasn’t been all so great for us in the past but today it was a lot different than that. I enjoyed it. I like obviously going to victory lane, but it was certainly really cool to win a trophy like that. Hopefully tomorrow we can win the bigger one."

How important was it to get back in your Tundra today and get a win?

“It wasn’t all that important but to me of course any time I get in a vehicle I want to go to victory lane. Just getting back in the Trucks this year I knew I wanted to race a few of them. My first one was supposed to be Charlotte but it just wasn’t going to be a smart one just after my return to the Cup car so I had to put Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) on the back burner a little bit longer until we got here at Pocono. It’s been fun though to be on the sidelines and watch our team. We’ve had some really fast trucks this year, we’ve just had a lot of bad luck. Erik Jones again today had some bad luck. It was good to see Christopher Bell win a race, Jones has won a race. So, all three teams have won a race again this year but we’d certainly like to make it more of a weekly occurrence."

Why did you continue to choose the outside line for the restarts?

“I chose the outside just because it seemed like these trucks get really loose when you are on the inside of somebody else so I never wanted to have that opportunity of somebody getting a better start than I did and being off into turn 1 and having them on my right side door so I just kept choosing the outside no matter who was there to get the push. Really, nobody pushed a whole lot on those restarts. It seemed like we kind of would accelerate and there would be a gap that developed real quick, but as we got down closer into turn 1 the gap would kind of close up. I know (Erik) Jones had to throw a block a couple times, I’m not sure it really worked. He I guess got crossed up on one of those restarts and got spun out on turn 2 which was really unfortunate for the 4 truck for them for points. The 88 (Matt Crafton) had a bad day today so that helped things on that regard. There at the end on that last restart I just tried to get a good one, tried to accelerate cleanly without spinning my tires and I knew (Kevin) Harvick was behind me so he would be really good too. But, again, he never really got to my back bumper to push me at all, but that inside lane it seems to disintegrate as you get closer to turn 1 because people want to try and dive-bomb each other and make moves to make passes and the outside lane tends to always keep the momentum rolling a little better."

What has this successful stretch been like for you with all of the wins?

“It’s been unreal. Those are the words to put on it. It’s unbelievable, remarkable, unreal and anything in the Thesaurus that works in that regard. It’s fun. I tell you, you just try to enjoy it as much as you can and working with my guys here Jerry Baxter (NCWTS crew chief), and of course Adam Stevens (NSCS crew chief) and Chris Gayle (NXS crew chief) on the XFINITY side. You enjoy it and just try to celebrate as a team and enjoy it as a team, not just me as an individual or anything like that. Certainly the accolades maybe in my name later on for years to come, but it takes a lot of good people around you. Just trying to continue that. Just gotta try to have some more fun and keep it rolling tomorrow. I certainly gave it my best shot to screw up tomorrow, but my guys prevailed there in final practice and got my car back out on the track and my car was fast when we did. That was good."

What kind of advice can you give to Erik Jones to help him grow as a driver?

“It’s a matter of listening and when I was 19 I wasn’t listening to anybody. I was smarter than everyone. (Erik) Jones and I have had those talks and we’ve had a few others as well and he’s obviously really good and I think he’s with the right team. Being with Joe Gibbs – Joe is a huge asset for me coming up through the years the last nine I think it is and of course for Jones. He can lean on me all he wants and he does quite a bit. We talk a lot. We’ve gone to lunch and we’ve certainly discussed different things whether it’s racing or family or just people around him and just kind of what advice people are giving him. I’ve been there and have tried to help him. People might think that’s crazy because I’m not maybe one of the best at being able to do that, which I don’t think anybody is the best. I think everybody has their own approach. Certainly I can’t imagine – he wants to win and that’s where it all stems from. It’s just competition, it’s just drive. He wanted to win today. He wanted to beat the boss and he had the opportunity to do so. I don’t know if I could’ve passed him if he was leading, but it just didn’t quite work out for him today. And, that’s tough. Man, I’ve been there. I’ve hated it. You’re still trying to make it in this game and to make it in this game the best way to do that is to win races and show people you’re the best and to not settle for second. Hopefully his top-10 will still continue to help him out through the rest of the year. I’m sure he will still get some wins and we can see him as a champion at the end of the year."

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