The Good, Bad, and Ugly of XFINITY at Pocono

Kyle Busch grabbed the victory in the Pocono Green 250, but it was the new race package that stole headlines. Was it good, bad, or ugly?

The Good: Kyle Busch

While I still don’t agree that Cup drivers should be in the XFINITY Series, it’s hard to deny how talented Kyle Busch is. He’s now won 189 times total in the top three NASCAR touring series, including 92 times in the XFINITY series. His win on Saturday also means he’s won at all 15 tracks where all three national series run, in Cup, XFINITY, and Trucks. That’s a mind-boggling feat. Busch is clearly in the absolute prime of his career, and probably won’t slow down for a while now. While it’s a prickly topic, Busch should be in the conversation right up there with Petty, Earnhardt, and Johnson, by the time his career is finished. It’s hard to dispute that Busch is the best driver racing right now.

The Bad: The Rules Package

The new rules package was something, but it wasn’t all that great. The highlight was the couple of times when there were several cars under a blanket for one position, be it the lead, or a little farther back. Other than that, though, it wasn’t a great race. A few laps after each restart, the field would string out, and the leader would stretch out a significant lead. While the package did allow some gaps to close, the gaps up front didn’t seem so susceptible. It truly didn’t look much different from any old Pocono race. It only had seven lead changes, and only a couple under green. It’s going to take some more experimenting to find the right balance at Pocono.

The Ugly: Lap Cars

While lap cars are always a bit of a pain for the leaders, at the end of stage two they caused a real ruckus. Mike Harmon, running well off the pace in his No. 74 Chevy Camaro, broke up a four-car battle for the stage win between Paul Menard, Cole Custer, Austin Cindric, and Justin Allgaier. Harmon was running the preferred bottom as the field entered turn three. The four battling for the lead (who had been two-by-two) were forced to the outside to avoid contact with Harmon, who almost ran himself into the grass. It’s worth noting that this put Harmon a second lap down. It’s absolutely pathetic that someone who was running 38th at the time ruined what could have been a close stage finish. The only thing I can say is Harmon should be glad that race wasn’t on lap 100.

Gragson Holds off Busch, Friesen, for Truck Win at Kansas

Noah Gragson was the favorite entering Friday night’s Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, and boy, did he deliver. Gragson led 128 out of the race’s 167 laps, winning both stages. The win is Gragson’s second career Truck Series win, and his first of the season. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Stewart Friesen.

Gragson schooled the field despite strong challenges from Ben Rhodes, who had a mechanical problem, followed by a too many men over the wall penalty, which put him several laps down and out of contention. Another contender with issues was Brett Moffitt, who battled within the top three a couple of times. Moffitt had to pit and change a battery, putting him a few laps down.

Stewart Friesen, though, had a strong run and finished well. He had his issues as well, breaking a shifter under caution and losing the lead. Friesen stayed near the front the rest of the night, but wasn’t able to finish the job, despite being faster than Gragson at times. Like Friesen, Kyle Busch spent all night up front, but wasn’t fast enough to grab the victory. The two collided battling late in the race, sending Busch into the grass. Somehow, Busch saved his truck and finished second. After the race, however, Busch wasn’t accept Friesen’s apology for the move.

The final green-flag run lasted almost 60 laps, meaning some drivers attempted to make it to the end on fuel, including Myatt Snider and teammates Darrell Wallace Jr. and Austin Hill. All three ran out with under eight laps to go, handing the lead to Gragson, who finished the race off.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be back on track on Friday, May 18, at 8:30 p.m. eastern time for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Gragson Wins Truck Pole; Busch Looks to Make History

Noah Gragson is a Truck Series pole sitter for the fifth time in his career, but this will be the first time he’ll compete against his boss, Kyle Busch, after starting from the pole. Gragson only has one career win in the Truck Series, but his 303 laps led (including 116 this season) show that he’s ready to win quite a few more. He’s been one of the best performers on the Truck circuit this season, having led laps in every race except Martinsville.

His strongest opponent will probably be Kyle Busch, who looks to tie Ron Hornaday Jr.’s all time series record for wins, at 51, with a win at Kansas. Busch already has a Truck win this season at Las Vegas, and nearly won the previous race at Atlanta before an issue on the final pit stop derailed his hopes. The 2015 Cup Series champion has a 0.35 winning percentage, and looks to improve on that on Friday night.

Cody Coughlin will have his best career Truck Series start on Friday night. He’ll roll off second. Coughlin has shown modest improvement since switching from Thorsport to GMS Racing. Coughlin, though, is still looking for his first top five finish of the season.

Veterans Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton will look to spoil the party on Friday, though. Sauter already has two wins, at Daytona in February and last week at Dover. Crafton, however, hasn’t won since Eldora last season. Both, though, look to spoil it for the younger guys and grab the victory at Kansas.

The 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway will take place on Friday, May 11 at 8:30 p.m. eastern time.

‘Dega Winner Logano Leads Second Practice at Dover

Joey Logano was fastest in second practice for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. Logano ran 37 laps, his fastest being his second lap, a 22.858 second circulation. Second-fastest was Logano’s Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, followed by Martin Truex Jr.

The 50-minute session featured no incidents. Kurt Busch ran the most laps, at 50, followed by Darrell Wallace Jr.’s 47 laps. All 38 teams entered ran laps in the session.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be back on track in final practice at 11 a.m. eastern time on Saturday. The AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway will take place at 2 p.m. eastern time on Sunday.

Here are the full results from second practice for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway:

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Aric Almirola
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. Kyle Larson
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  9. Kurt Busch
  10. William Byron
  11. Alex Bowman
  12. Clint Bowyer
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. David Ragan
  17. Daniel Suarez
  18. Kasey Kahne
  19. Ryan Newman
  20. Ryan Blaney
  21. Erik Jones
  22. Denny Hamlin
  23. AJ Allmendinger
  24. Jamie McMurray
  25. Austin Dillon
  26. Trevor Bayne
  27. Michael McDowell
  28. Chris Buescher
  29. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  30. Matt DiBenedetto
  31. Ty Dillon
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. Gray Gaulding
  34. Ross Chastain
  35. Corey LaJoie
  36. Reed Sorenson
  37. Derrike Cope
  38. Cody Ware