Kyle Busch Wins CRC Brakleen 150 At Pocono Racewayby Press Release July 23, 2023 0 comments
By Holly Cain
NASCAR Wire Service
In what was both a thrilling and historic afternoon at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Kyle Busch earned a hard-fought win in Saturday’s CRC Brakleen 150 with a last lap pass for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team’s milestone 100th series victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Busch made a daring move low on series championship leader Corey Heim in Turn 2 “The Tunnel Turn” of the iconic 2.5-mile track, got around cleanly and motored off to a .604-second win in the No. 51 KBM Chevrolet to at last secure that unprecedented 100th victory for his decorated team. It marks the second win of the year in five truck starts for Busch, 38, a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.
“It’s pretty cool, we’ve been around for a long time, but it’s been fun, said Busch, who contributed 64 of those 100 wins himself and now has three at Pocono.
“A great ride. Obviously, this [Chevrolet] Silvarado today was really really fast, just mired in traffic. Couldn’t find a way to make a clean move so had to make a little bit of a racey one, a little bit of a dicey one there at the end getting into two. Heim ran a great race. We just needed this hundredth win to get it over with.
“Really proud of the guys and everybody at KBM,’’ he said, adding, “It’s a monumental day, a century mark of being able to win a hundred truck races. We’re a small team, just one that performs in the truck series.’’
Eighteen drivers contributed to that grand win total for Kyle Busch Motorsports – including Heim, who finished runner-up to his former boss on Saturday after leading a race best 27 of the 60 laps.
“Just unreal,’’ said Heim, who holds a 42-point lead over Zane Smith atop the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship heading into the regular season finale next week at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
“I felt like I did everything right,’’ continued Heim, who drives the No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota. “Seemed like we had about five laps in the truck before it started tightened up really bad on me. I really did get the run I wanted out of 1 and knew his straightaway speed was really good. I was a little upset initially but realistically, I would have done the exact same thing. Heat of the moment deal there.
“Looking back on it, I’ve just got a lot of respect for Kyle. I raced for him for two years and he was really good to me and raced me with respect today. He’s a hard racer and didn’t wreck us for the win and I probably would have done the same thing. Really sucks, really thought we had it there.’’
Heim’s TRICON Garage teammate Taylor Gray finished a career best third place with another NASCAR Cup Series full-timer, Christopher Bell in fourth place in the Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 61 Toyota and Grant Enfinger rounding out the Top-5 in the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet.
Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes, Dean Thompson, 2021 series champion Ben Rhodes and Matt DiBenedetto completed the Top-10 on Saturday.
It was Heim’s closest championship challenger that dominated early at Pocono. Zane Smith, whose 19 laps led was second only to Heim, won both stages (his third and fourth of the season) giving him bonus points to seemingly narrow the championship gap.
That pit strategy, however, left him vulnerable in the rear of the field during that final stage and he was among 10 cars involved in an incident with eight laps remaining that brought out a 13-minute red flag period.
Smith’s truck was too damaged to finish the race, as was another championship hopeful, Stewart Friesen. The reigning series champion now shows up at Richmond a longshot to claim the regular season trophy, but he is one of four drivers with two wins on the season – second best to Heim’s three victories.
Pole winner, 22-year old Nick Sanchez was involved in an accident just prior to the “big one” and took out his fellow front row starter and rookie Jake Garcia.
Heading into the Richmond regular season finale, three-time former series champion Matt Crafton holds an eight-point advantage over Friesen for that final 10th place Playoff transfer spot.
The series races in the Worldwide Express 250 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to formalize the 10-driver Playoff field. Chandler Smith is the defending race winner.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images