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Restarts prove to be key for Busch

In NASCAR, especially at Pocono International Raceway, restarts are critical.

This season, restarts seem to be even more important due to a new aero package NASCAR introduced, where it’s been difficult for drivers to consistently pass each other.

On Sunday, at the 38th annual Pocono 400, passing — as it has been all season — was scarce. The race, however was full of wild restarts, which is the norm at the “Tricky Triangle” with the sport’s largest front stretch, allowing for cars to fan out to four and five wide before dive bombing into turn one.

So, with restarts being one of the most important aspects of the afternoon, it’s no surprise to NASCAR fans who was standing in victory lane at the end of 160 laps — Kyle Busch

Busch, who has won three out of the last four races at Pocono, dominated on restarts throughout the day. He led a race-high 79 laps on his way to his fourth victory of the year.

Busch has expressed his frustration throughout the season with NASCAR’s new aero package and it seems like he knew going into the race that the restarts were going to be the key.

“I think I passed one car today, and that was on the outside of Turn 3 and I got a good run through Turn 2 and kind of shallowed entry to Turn 3 a little bit, and Bowyer went to block, so I just shot out to his outside, got alongside of him. I mean, that was it,” said Busch. “I don’t know if anybody else passed anybody on the racetrack for the lead like that, but if so, then maybe this package is awesome.”

The pass Busch was referencing was on a restart on lap 73. Clint Bowyer actually was able to best Busch on the restart, but the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota showed how good it really was two laps later, chasing down Bowyer and pulling to his outside along Turn 3 and completing the pass at the exit of the turn. It was the power move of the race.

Busch dominated the rest of the way, leading from laps 75-94, laps 103-123 and laps 140-160. But per usual at Pocono, a late-race caution created some drama when Ricky Stenhouse had a tire go down with about 15 laps remaining.

The restart would go down with eight to go with Gibbs teammate Erik Jones on Busch’s inside. Jones however, was no match for Busch as he rocketed past Jones on the outside coming out of Turn 1, cruising to his 55th-career victory.

“We were just going to go with whatever went on behind us, what runs we got, what pushes we got from behind, and really when I left the restart zone, Brad (Keselowski) touched me twice in second gear, and then after that I never got touched again until right before getting off into the corner, and that kind of seemed to be the way a couple restarts went earlier in the day, as well, too, where I’m trying to back up to those guys and get pushes, and really all you’re doing is slowing down that train,” said Busch. “So, like the higher horsepower of the other package, you could push all the way down in there and you could fan out I felt like more than what this package alluded to.”

Kyle Busch poses with the trophy in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Sunday, June 2, 2019, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)