LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch came through in the clutch. Even when he raced without one.
Busch busted Hendrick Motorsports’ winning streak and denied the organization a shot at NASCAR history when he raced to his second victory of the season Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Busch took a broken Toyota to victory lane.
Busch, runner-up in Saturday’s opening Pocono race, ran into trouble early when a leak in the transmission left the car stuck in fourth gear. He needed an assist from a Joe Gibbs Racing crew member who slid in the passenger’s side window on one pit stop and tried to pry the stick back into gear.
“I’m going to need a push truck to get to Victory Lane because I have no clutch,” Busch said on the radio.
Busch was loose early and sang a few bars of “Fly Like An Eagle” over the radio. His 59th career Cup victory will go down as one of Busch’s greatest hits. NASCAR’s career wins leader in all series has 100 in Xfinity and 61 in Trucks.
The 2 1/2-mile tri-oval wreaked havoc on fuel and William Byron and Denny Hamlin all saw their shot at the checkered flag disappear over the final five laps when they ran out of gas.
“Sometimes these races aren’t always won by the fastest car,” Busch said.
Hamlin faded to 14th.
“Fuel mileage got us the last two weeks,” Hamlin said. “We can’t see the checkered right now.”
Kyle Larson, whose blown tire on the last lap cost him a win Saturday, was second for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick had won six straight Cup races, including Alex Bowman’s victory Saturday in the first race of Pocono’s doubleheader.
Hendrick was trying to become the first team since NASCAR’s modern era began in 1972 to win seven straight races.
“Seemed like every point of the race, everything that happened in the race, nothing went my way,” Larson said. “Restarts, just guys messing up in front of me, me getting shuffled out of the groove, bad lane choices on my part, everything didn’t go my way.”
Bowman started the streak in May at Dover and Chase Elliott followed the next week at Texas. Larson then ripped off three straight points victories at Charlotte, Sonoma and last week at Nashville — and squeezed in the $1 million All-Star race for four wins, total — all while Hendrick Motorsports became the winningest organization in NASCAR history.
Brad Keselowski was third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Bubba Wallace was fifth in his best finish of the season for Michael Jordan’s 23IX team.
Larson met with 40 students at the Urban Youth Racing School and he announced plans to race in the school’s go-kart race in August in Philadelphia.
The Philly-based program that creates opportunities in racing for minorities developed a deeper relationship with Larson after he was suspended last season for using a slur during an iRacing event. Larson often calls or Zooms with the students and bought the school racing simulators.
“Just having that relationship where they can pick up the phone and call me if they have questions about iRacing or something is pretty neat,” Larson said. “It’s a closer friendship, relationship with them. I think all of them look up to me and I think that’s great to be there for them whenever they need me.”
NASCAR made a $70,000 donation on Sunday to the school.
UYRS founder Anthony Martin said Larson and other NASCAR drivers will compete Aug. 7 in a go-kart grand prix near the school’s location in Philly.
“A lot of our students have never been to a race before, so to actually come see it up close, be a part of it, smell the gas, hear the sounds are very important,” Martin said. “Actually being here is a lot different than seeing it on television.”
NASCAR heads to Road America in rural Wisconsin, one of the new road course events on the 2021 schedule.
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