Martin Truex Jr. has partnered with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to form NASCAR’s power trio.
Truex Jr., last season’s champion, won the Pocono 400, joining Busch and Harvick as the only multiple winners this year. While Truex Jr. has not been as dominant this year, he has been fairly consistent as his runner-up finishes in the two previous races indicate. The aero advantage of clean air proved stronger than fresh tires at the end of the race when crew chief Cole Pearn made a late-race decision to keep Truex Jr. out when the caution flag flew with 20 laps to go. The advantage of clean air kept Truex Jr. out front, managing to keep Busch in his rear view mirror as he sped to victory.
After 14 regular-season races in 2018, Busch (4), Harvick (5), and Truex (2) have won 11 of the races. Going back to the start of the Championship run last year, the three drivers have won 19 of the past 24 races. The media has just about conceded the three teams a spot in the Championship race in Homestead.
Just six drivers have won this year compared to the 10 drivers that had won last year at this same point. That’s a good indication of how three drivers have dominated these first 14 races.
Overall, there were 13 winners in 2016 and 15 last year. This time around, though, Harvick and Busch have been so dominant they look like they could easily win a few more apiece before the playoffs, showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon. With 12 races before the playoff picture is set, we could see a handful of others join them. With Daytona and the two summer road courses in the mix, there’s still a chance for some major surprises.
The fastest car probably didn’t win, as so often happens at Pocono. Teams played different pit strategies in order to gain track position, and that eventually decided the race. Harvick looked to have Stage 1 all wrapped up but Truex gradually tracked him down, and won the stage. Harvick easily won Stage 2. The race was caution free for race incidents for the first two stages, but as the drivers challenged each other for the win, four more caution flags flew in the remaining 35 laps resulting in the various pit strategies. Truex Jr. won his 17th Monster Energy NASCAR Series Cup race in his 455th career start. He sits fourth in the point standings behind Busch, Harvick and Joey Logano.
Ricky Stenhouse moved ahead of Alex Bowman by nine points to grab the last qualifying spot in the championship race.