NASCAR started the second half of the Monster Energy Cup Series on June 2 with the Pocono 400 at the Pocono Raceway of Pennsylvania. Known as the Tricky Triangle, Pocono is the only NASCAR oval to feature three turns instead of four along with the widest and longest straightaway on the circuit.
In a race that featured strategy over speed, Kyle Busch picked up his fourth win of the season and the 55th win of his career ranking him second amongst active drivers, behind Jimmie Johnson’s 83 wins, and tying him with Rusty Wallace on the all-time winners list.
Dawsonville native Chase Elliott finished the race in fourth place to complete his sixth top-5 finish in a row, a streak that started with his win at Talladega on April 28. Elliott secured his place in the post season with the Talladega win, but he moved into a solid third place in the MENCS rankings with his finish at Pocono.
A straightaway that allowed for five-wide racing, and three turns that presented a different challenge for the drivers on every lap led to a patient, strategic race that saw only eight cautions over 160 laps and no major accidents.
For the third time in his career, Kyle Larson managed to capture the flag on both Stage one and Stage two of the race but a late race pit decision cost him the lead and he finished the race in 26th place overall.
Elliott fell prey to a similar decision when he managed to work his way into the lead with only a handful of laps remaining in stage two of the race. Knowing that his team had already secured a position in the post-season, crew chief Alan Gustafson called his driver off the track for an early pit-stop.
The decision most likely cost Elliott ten points for a stage victory, but with only 55 laps remaining in the race, allowed him to remain on the lead lap as the race entered its final rounds and secure the fourth-place finish.
NASCARs’ season continues on Saturday, June 9 when the teams head to the Michigan International Raceway for the Firekeeper’s Casino 400.