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Home / AJ Hecht / Pace Laps: Kyle Busch Dominates Pocono, Cole Custer Wins Big and IndyCar Tackles Detroit
(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Pace Laps: Kyle Busch Dominates Pocono, Cole Custer Wins Big and IndyCar Tackles Detroit

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Busch Pushes Past NASCAR Package Problems

Experts can argue back and forth about Kyle Busch’s 200-plus wins in NASCAR’s top three series. Fans will debate its place in history for years to come. But there’s one part of Busch’s career we cannot debate: a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win total that’s climbing into rarified air.

Busch notched his 55th career Cup Series victory Sunday (June 2), trudging through a day defined by track position at Pocono Raceway. He’s now tied Rusty Wallace for ninth on the all-time wins list; it’s his series-leading fourth Cup win of 2019. Just 34 years old, it’s a total Busch seems well positioned to add to for years to come.

“We just keep on doing what we’re supposed to do,” Busch said Sunday. “I’ve won 55 of them, I guess, but man, there’s probably just as many that I’ve lost out on and I know that if I could have them back, I’d be well on my way.

“It’s pretty cool to continue to get with and eclipse many of these great names that have helped our sport, build our sport to what it is today and have been icons for that matter, as well.”

Busch’s success was one of few storylines in a Pocono race where even threats of rain couldn’t jumpstart the competition. NASCAR’s new handling package, fresh off an A+ grade under the lights took a major step back in the daytime at this triangular track. Passing was labeled near impossible as the decision to utilize it, not made until earlier this spring became a massive mistake. No shifting limited drafting opportunities; slower speeds left cars stuck in place.

That left Busch a little snarky about a setup he’s never been happy with since the start of the 2019 season.

I think I passed one car today,” he said. “That was on the outside of turn 3 and I got a good run through turn 2 and kind of shallowed entry to turn 3 a little bit. Bowyer went to block, so I just shot out to his outside, got alongside of him.  I mean, that was it.

“I don’t know if anybody else passed anybody on the racetrack for the lead like that, but if so, then maybe this package is awesome.”

No one really did. But Busch persevered, adding to a win total that is slowly cementing his place as one of the best in NASCAR history. Next on the agenda? How about a second Cup championship? All but one of the eight drivers ahead of him (Bobby Allison) have multiple titles on their resume. His 25 playoff points lead the series and provide a solid cushion similar to last year when the Big Three of Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. felt predestined to make Homestead-Miami Speedway’s championship finale. – Tom Bowles

Xfinity Series: Cole Custer Makes Last Corner Pass on Tyler Reddick for the Win 

All weekend long at Pocono Raceway, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick were on top of each other. From the speed chart to single-lap speed, 10-lap average and more, it led to an intense race.

After leading flag-to-flag in an action-filled opening stage, Custer struggled in the second stage to even earn a top-five finish, being in dirty air. But with a good restart to begin the final stage, the No. 00 Ford was all over Justin Allgaier, eventually getting the No. 7 car loose on the exit of turn 1, getting by for the lead. He never looked back from there, until a caution with less than 10 laps to go.

On the restart, Custer got a good jump, edging ahead of the field. However, Allgaier made it four-wide entering turn 1, going for a gigantic slide on the exit. After the race, the veteran driver said he was loose and wanted to keep it off his JR Motorsports teammates Ryan Preece and Michael Annett.

That made for another restart, where Reddick shoved the hell out of Custer going down the fronstretch, passing the No. 00 by the entry of turn 1. Heading into the final lap, Reddick held a two car-length lead on Custer, all the way down until the final turn, where he slipped up the track allowing Custer to get by for the win.

The victory is Custer’s third of the season, and fourth in the past 15 races dating back to last November. Reddick finished second, with Chase Briscoe, Preece and Christopher Bell rounding out the top five.

The series heads to Michigan International Speedway next Saturday (June 8). Through 12 races this season, Custer, Bell and Reddick have combined to win eight of the 12 races, with Kyle Busch winning three others. – Dustin Albino

TYLWALK: TRICKY TRIANGLE NOT TOO TRICKY FOR COLE CUSTER

Gander Outdoors Truck Series: Back on Track Next Weekend

After a couple of weekends off since the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Truck Series will be back on track at Texas Motor Speedway for a companion weekend with the IndyCar Series. Kyle Busch won the series last visit to the mile-and-a-half oval in March, however, he will not be in the field as he’s made the five starts allowed by an experienced Cup driver in the series.

Friday night’s race marks the first in the trio of Triple Truck Challenge events, designed to spotlight series regulars, so only those who declared for points in the Truck Series will be eligible to race, similar to the Xfinity Series’ Dash For Cash.

Grant Enfinger currently holds a 15-point advantage over Stewart Friesen in the championship standings. Defending champion Brett Moffitt sits third, followed by ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton. The trio that rounds out the top five is separated by just four points heading into the next race.

Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter, who rejoined ThorSport at the last minute this year and won at Texas last summer sits sixth, followed by Daytona winner Austin Hill. A trio of rookies rounds out the top 10 in the standings. Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton are separated by a single point, while Sheldon Creed sits 10th.

Drivers will participate in a trio of practice sessions Thursday ahead of qualifying Friday afternoon. The SpeedyCash.com 400 will run at 9 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. – Beth Lunkenheimer

LUNKENHEIMER: TEXAS KICKS OFF TRIPLE TRUCK CHALLENGE

ARCA Menards Series: Ty Majeski Scores Back-to-Back Wins With Pocono Victory

For the second consecutive week, Toyota dominated the running of the ARCA Menards Series, with Riley Herbst leading the first 68 laps of Friday’s event at Pocono. And for the second week in a row, Ty Majeski and his Chad Bryant Racing Ford was there to strike when the pay window opened. Benefiting from pitting a lap earlier than Herbst under green on lap 68, Majeski stormed past Herbst as he exited pit road, pulling away throughout the final 10 laps to score his second consecutive and second overall ARCA win. Herbst, Christian Eckes and Raphael Lessard finished out the top four, the only four cars to finish on the lead lap.

From the replays, it wasn’t clear where Herbst lost time to Majeski on those final pit stops; both teams took two tires and neither stop appeared to have anything go wrong. Be it on entry speed, exit speed, or that short-pitting was just the right call, Majeski and the No. 22 got clean air, which proved insurmountable.

Michael Self endured an 11th-place finish in what was an eventful day for the series’ points leader, suffering both a broken axle and a broken alternator over the afternoon. Though the curse of the points leader did continue at Pocono, Self does maintain a narrow lead over Bret Holmes, who finished fifth. The top-five drivers in the standings (Self, Holmes, Travis Braden, Eckes and Joe Graf, Jr.) are all within 130 points of each other leaving Pocono. – Bryan Keith

KEITH: ARCA RACING SERIES BREAKDOWN: POCONO

Sports Cars: Sebastien Buemi Fastest At Le Mans Test Day

Sunday saw FIA World Endurance Championship teams descend upon the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France for the mandatory Le Mans Test Day.  62 teams took on the 8.467-mile circuit for two sessions of on-track running.

To almost no one’s surprise, it was one of the Toyota GAZOO Racing Toyota TS050-Hybrids on top at the end of the day.  Sebastien Buemi was fastest overall with a lap at 152.834 mph.  Buemi was eight-tenths of a second faster than Mike Conway in the second Toyota.  It was another second back to the first non-hybrid, the No. 1 Rebellion R13 for Andre Lotterer.  SMP Racing’s Stoffel Vandoorne was fourth fastest, followed by Nathanael Berthon in the second Rebellion.

Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung was fastest in LMP2 with a lap at 146.190 mph.  That was a quarter of a second faster than DragonSpeed’s Pastor Maldonado.   Signatech Alpine Matmut’s Nicolas Lapierre was third.  The best non-ORECA 07 chassis was seventh in class.

GTE-Pro was led by Corvette Racing’s Mike Rockenfeller with a lap at 130.261 mph, just three-hundredths of a second faster than the Ford of Harry Tincknell and Tommy Milner in the second Corvette.  Finally, Scuderia Corsa’s Toni Vilander was fastest in GTE-Am with a lap at 128.688 mph.  The top five cars in the class were Ferraris. – Phil Allaway

NTT IndyCar Series: Championship Contenders have Chaotic Weekend in Detroit

It was an up and down weekend for both winners of what proved to be a chaotic NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader at Belle Isle.

Josef Newgarden captured his second win of the season on Saturday in a rain-shortened race, further extending his season-long points lead, while Scott Dixon ended the day in the wall.

HECHT: JOSEF NEWGARDEN WINS CHAOTIC INDYCAR RACE 1 IN DETROIT

Sunday was a much different story.

Newgarden, although qualifying on the pole, had his worst result of the season after an incident on lap 33 with James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi knocked him out of contention. While the championship leader limped home to a 19th place finish, Dixon led the last 20 laps to secure his first win of the year.

TYLWALK: SCOTT DIXON WINS DUAL 2 IN DETROIT

With the win, the 2018 champion tightened up the fight for this year’s crown, moving into fourth in the season-long standings, now just 54 points back of Newgarden with just over half the season remaining.

As the series heads to the high-banks of Texas, the run for the championship is shaping up to be a four-horse race. Buoyed by his May sweep, Simon Pagenaud is still in the thick of things despite a comparatively lackluster doubleheader weekend.

Rossi, just 15 points behind Newgarden, had the most consistent weekend of the title contenders, finishing second on Saturday and fifth on Sunday, and will surely be in the conversation when the series arrives at Laguna Seca in September. – A.J. Hecht

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One comment

  1. Avatar

    That clear air thang, lack of passing makes for a miserable race and the winner..an inflated dynamo, a wunderkind, a genius, the best, etc. Blah. Blah, Blah. The racing for the most part still sucks. Pocono always does, clean air….but this….MEH.

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