LONG POND – There were eight different winners in as many NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Pocono Raceway entering Saturday’s Gander Outdoors 150.
But Cup driver Kyle Busch broke the streak by becoming the first repeat truck winner at Pocono in his own No. 51 Toyota Tundra.
The veteran racer was chased by 22-year-old Erik Jones over the final 20 laps, but held off the young driver for a second time in three years.
“They had a better truck than us here this weekend, the 18 did,” Busch said. “I tried to fix this thing and work on it and make it better, but they probably made it slower with a couple of things that I changed than making it faster. Rudy [Fugle] and those guys, they’re amazing. They do such a great job and I knew Erik [Jones] was going to be fast in that truck and Noah [Gragson] was going to be fast in that truck.”
Jones filled in for an ill Noah Gragson when the sophomore Truck Series driver didn’t gain medical clearance to compete in the 60-lap event.
Gragson tried to qualify his No. 18 Safelite Toyota on Saturday morning, but to no avail by bringing the truck back down pit road. Busch found a quick replacement in Jones for the race and started shotgun on the field by making quick work and battling with his former team owner towards the end.
“They were going to be the ones that we had to beat,” Busch said. “I wish we were a tick faster, but obviously being that little bit slower, we put on a better show. Erik was able to run me down and get there and I did everything I could to hold him off.
“I knew if I could pinch him for a few laps after he had that time to cool his tires getting to me that he could heat his tires back up and then I might be able to equal out to him.”
Jones was positioned third on the race’s final restart as the inside lane didn’t get going right away. Busch had a 2.2-second lead while Jones came within inches of passing his Cup Series teammate for the lead.
“The Safelite Tundra was probably fast enough to win, I just needed to get back out front and couldn’t quite do it starting third on that restart, had to get around the 8 and 25,” Jones said. “I was pretty tight on the last run to begin with. I had to use up a little bit to get through some traffic and a little bit more on the right-front to get to Kyle.”
“I saw the lapped trucks and they gave me the opportunity to get there. I was, like, it’s going to be my only shot to get to the lead and get the lead to hold him off. We came within about six inches of doing it and I had to check up.”
Busch’s win Saturday tied Ron Hornaday with his 51st career camping World Truck Series win. The 2015 Cup champ scored his first-career truck victory in May 2005 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I can’t say enough about everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports and everyone that’s gotten me these win totals to where they’re at,” Busch said.”Racing with Billy Ballew and racing KBM stuff and back in the heyday with Morgan-Dollar [Motorsports], I don’t think I won a race with them.”
“Just a true testament to all the hard work and dedication and perseverance everybody has at Kyle Busch Motorsports to give me such a fast Cessna/Beechcraft Tundra here.”
Dalton Sargeant was the highest-finishing series regular in third while stage-two winner Stewart Friesen solidified his playoff hopes with a fourth-place run.