Kenseth wins at Pocono after Kyle Busch, Logano run out of gas
Red-hot Kyle Busch ran out of gas on the last lap of Sunday’s Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, allowing his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to steal a victory.
The top three running cars at the end of the race — Joey Logano, Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — all ran out of gas in the final three laps, with Kenseth coming from 16 seconds behind on the final lap to win over the Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were next, with Greg Biffle of Roush Fenway Racing completing the top five.
The victory was the second of the year for Kenseth and the 33rd of his career.
"There’s nothing like wins," said Kenseth after scoring his first Pocono win. "We had a lot of wins in 2013 and we were pretty spoiled. Last year, we had a big dry spell. This year, we were able to win Bristol and we’ve been up front a lot. I’m really, really thankful to be with these guys and to get the win. I never thought I’d ever win at Pocono and I never, ever thought I’d win a fuel-mileage race. So we did both today."
Busch was going for his fourth straight victory, but came up about half a lap short in the end.
"I didn’t know we were that close (on fuel)," said Busch, who is now 13th points out of 30th place and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup "… Man, that was a bummer. I wish I would have saved a little more."
Logano, who led a race-high 97 laps but wound up 20th, was disconsolate afterward.
"We did everything right today," said Logano, who came into Pocono with six top fives but no wins in the prior seven races. "We keep getting so close to these wins. It’s so frustrating."
Busch started from the pole in his familiar No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was flanked by reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, making for a potent front row.
On Lap 5, Kasey Kahne spun from the exit of Turn 3 and hit the inside pit wall hard, head-on, a frightening moment of deja vu after Jeb Burton’s eerily similar crash on Saturday.
A competition caution on Lap 16 saw Busch surrender the lead when he pitted and Harvick stayed out. The race restarted on Lap 21, and when it did, Harvick made it less than a lap before his engine let go, ending his day and turning the lead over to his teammate, Kurt Busch.
Then, more chaos, as Sam Hornish Jr. slowed in Turn 1 and was hit from behind by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Lap 28.
On the Lap 33 restart, Truex passed Kurt Busch to take his first lead of the day. But then they both had to pit on Lap 39, putting Logano out front until he came in for fuel and tires on Lap 52.
When Keselowski stopped, he slid through his pit box and hit his jackman and a tire carrier, sending a tire flying to bring out another yellow on Lap 62.
At the halfway point, Logano led the JGR Toyotas of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kenseth.
Logano pitted from the lead on Lap 123, with most of his challengers pitting within a couple of laps of him.
As the laps wound down, Logano led Kyle Busch by about one second, both drivers trying to save fuel to make sure they made it to the end. And the end, Logano ran out of gas with three laps to go. Then Truex ran out with two to go and Busch ran out on the last lap.