Kyle Larson Blows Tire On Final Lap, And Alex Bowman Slips By To Win At Poconoby Hunter Thomas June 26, 2021 0 comments
LONG POND, Pa. – Alex Bowman won the Pocono Organics CBD 325 on Saturday at Pocono Raceway after Kyle Larson blew a left front tire while leading on the final.
Bowman took over the lead on the final restart of the day on Lap 112 in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, but his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Larson hunted him down and challenged for the lead. Bowman had the clean air, but Larson had the faster car. Larson took the lead on Lap 127, and on the final lap, he was well on his way of winning to winning his fourth consecutive points race, but as he drove the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet into Turn 3 for the final time, the left front tire blew, and he pounded the wall. Bowman slipped on by to win his third race of the 2021 season.
“Yeah, I hate to win one that way, but hell, yeah, I’ll take it,” Bowman said.
Bowman continued and said, “Super proud of this Ally 48 team. Man, we kind of gave the lead away. Were on two tires, just got super tight. Tried to hold him off as long as I could. Can’t say enough about everybody at Team Hendrick right now, body shop, engine shop, chassis shop. Top to bottom, everybody is putting race cars on the racetrack.”
Larson limped the car around the track to finish a disappointing ninth. Following the race, Larson said, “I guess disbelief still. I don’t know, a little bit laughable just because I can’t believe it.
“Hate that we didn’t get another win. Would have been cool to win five in a row. Just wasn’t meant to be I guess today. Yeah, I felt something like right in the middle of the tunnel. Wasn’t quite sure what it was yet. It finally kind of shredded halfway through the short chute there. Couldn’t turn.”
Kyle Busch brought the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Mini’s Toyota home in the second position. He won Stage 1 and led a race high of 30 laps throughout the afternoon. The runner-up effort is Busch’s third top-five in the last four points races. Busch said that he gave it his all, but in the end, his car didn’t handle the best, and he had to make his way through traffic towards the end of the race.
“Our cars kind of die tight in traffic, and just wasn’t able to turn as well as I needed too late in the going in order to get a run on them,” Busch said. “I couldn’t even get any closer than I was. I was trying like hell to get there and get into that mix, but I couldn’t even get there. I was just hindered by traffic and dirty air, stuff like that. Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the guys gave me a great piece. It was fast early on. We made minimal changes to it all day long, so when you are well-balanced, and your car is good – that’s as much as we have for them right now.”
William Byron, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five. Stage 2 winner, Kurt Busch finished sixth, followed by Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Larson and Brad Keselowski.
The caution flag flew on eight occasions on Saturday. Two of the accidents were for multi-car crashes.
In Stage 1 on Lap 15, Keselowski misjudged a move and clipped Cole Custer on the frontstretch. Custer’s car sustained heavy damage as it bounced off the outside wall. He finished 38th.
“I don’t know if it was just too tight or miscommunication or what,” Custer said. “I really wanted a good day today. I thought we had a good car those first few laps with our HaasTooling.com Mustang but we will just move on to tomorrow. It is frustrating. I can’t tell you how frustrating this year has been.”
On Lap 61, Anthony Alfredo and Corey LaJoie tangled exiting in Turn 4 to bring out the caution.
The second race of the doubleheader weekend at Pocono Raceway will get underway on Sunday. Live coverage of the Pocono Mountains 350 will broadcast on NBCSN at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images