Co-authored by Luciano Calamante & Anton Hreskiv.
Alex Bowman wins the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader at Pocono after Kyle Larson got a flat tire at the final corner of the final lap.
The green flag was out at 3:19 PM ET and it was the number 5 of Kyle Larson who led off the start. Logano was behind him in P2 as the no. 42 and 24 of Chastain and Byron went two-wide for P3, with Chastain claiming the place out of the battle. Meanwhile, back behind, Elliott was struggling as he had major left-rear damage as Ryan Preece ran into his back on the start.
The no. 24 of William Byron went into attack mode on lap 5 as he passed both Logano and Larson for the lead, who told his engineer he was too loose. By lap 6, behind the top 5 were Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kurt Busch, all exchanging positions. The first caution of the race was out on lap 9 due to debris on turn 2 and was converted into the competition caution that was scheduled for lap 12.
Green flag racing returned on lap 13. A lap after, a big accident happened on the frontstretch and caution was back again. Cole Custer protagonized a big wreck but walked out of his car safely. He was turned by Brad Keselowski from behind.
Green flag conditions resumed with 8 laps to go, and there were reports of light rain in turn 1. Kyle Busch was leading the pack with Byron behind him. Larson was running third. Almirola, Bowman, and Bell all made a stop with 3 laps to go. In the end, it was Kyle Busch taking the victory of the stage.
Rain was a bit of concern as few raindrops were reported at some areas of the track. Joey Logano took the green flag in stage 2 after staying out on track. He stayed in the lead at the restart and built some gap from Kurt Busch. However, they both had to pit for the first day in the race in the middle of the stage. Chastain inherited the race lead.
Ryan Newman triggered another caution after spinning and hitting the barrier in turn 1. Kyle Busch did not pit and led at the restart. Several laps later, a wreck happened at the frontstretch with Corey LaJoie having the worst of it after a contact with Anthony Alfredo.
The restart did not go well for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – he was penalized for restart violation. Saturday brought a huge blow for Chastain – he had a big contact with the wall. Caution was out once again. A lot of drivers, including the race leader Kyle Busch, went to the pit road. Kurt Busch went on to take a green-white-checkered flag in stage 2 after a two-lap dash.
Kurt Busch was in the lead at the start of the final stage. However, he had Larson right at his back. Shortly after, the no.5 car driver took over the first position. Strategy proved to be a key aspect in the race and we saw some difficult approaches to pit stops. Kyle Busch jumped Larson, which was vital in the battle for the race win. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was close to getting the position back but failed to do so. Furthermore, caution came out for debris on the track.
Alex Bowman surprisingly took the lead at the restart. His teammate Larson eventually started catching him and reached the attack position. The no.48 car driver did the best he could to save the lead, but Larson came with the pass with 4 laps to go. However, a huge drama came at the final corner – Larson got a flat tire and went into the wall, which meant that Bowman was the one to take the checkered flag. Kyle Busch finished 2nd, while Byron was 3rd.
The top 10 of the NASCAR Cup Series Pocono race 1:
|1||#48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2||#18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||#24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports|
|4||#11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|5||#12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske|
|6||#1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|7||#22||Joey Logano||Team Penske|
|8||#4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|9||#5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|10||#2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske|