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NASCAR Cup Series: Results and 3 takeaways from Sunday’s Pocono 400

Holding off Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. took his second NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2018 season in Sunday’s Pocono 400.
Holding off Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. took his second NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2018 season in Sunday’s Pocono 400. AP

Martin Truex Jr. won the Pocono 400 on Sunday, his second win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Pocono Raceway:

1. About time for Truex to notch another win

Truex had recorded back-to-back second-place finishes the last two weekends, so it felt right timing-wise for him to notch another win this season. Truex hasn’t been nearly as dominant in 2018 as he was in last season’s championship season, but replicating that level of success isn’t easy. With the recent run of form from him and the rest of the No. 78 team, it’s starting to feel like Truex’s luck is changing, though. He now joins Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick as the only multitime winners this season. But more importantly? He seems to be joining them as one of this year’s elite drivers.

2. Harvick and Busch, even in defeat, didn’t let up

Another footnote that should be mentioned along with Truex’s win is how exactly he did that: by holding off Busch and Harvick, by far and away this season’s top two drivers. Harvick actually led the most laps Sunday, but a few late restarts for cautions left both of them behind Truex and unable to catch up. But that doesn’t mean their Top 5 finishes should be ignored in any way. We’ve seen how dominant both can be — Busch at Charlotte last weekend and Harvick in Kansas before that. If Sunday at Pocono was them screwing up, and they still finished Top 5, what does that mean for the rest of the field? That they should be pretty darn scared, that’s what.

3. An early look at the championship four? Front-runners starting to crystallize

Right, so Truex, Harvick and Busch are the only drivers to have won multiple times this season. That’s impressive. Very much so, really. And it’s part of what makes them three of the favorites to return to this season’s championship race in November at Homestead (they all also made it in 2017). But who might join them as the fourth contender? It was Brad Keselowski last year, but this time, it’s beginning to feel like someone else: Kyle Larson. Jeff Gordon noted at the end of Sunday’s broadcast that he wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Larson, who hasn’t won this year but has finished second three times (including Pocono), make it into that final four. That seems to be an opinion spreading throughout the industry – now all Larson needs to do is register a few wins and push that idea closer to fruition.

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Kyle Larson hasn’t won this season but has finished second three times, including Sunday’s Pocono 400. Derik Hamilton AP Photo

Pocono 400 results

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

Sunday At Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.

Lap length: 2.50 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (4) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 160 laps, 57 points.

2. (13) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 160, 43.

3. (5) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160, 51.

4. (2) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 160, 52.

5. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160, 37.

6. (1) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 160, 38.

7. (34) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160, 30.

8. (15) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 160, 33.

9. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 160, 28.

10. (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 160, 38.

11. (20) Paul Menard, Ford, 160, 26.

12. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160, 25.

13. (26) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 160, 24.

14. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 160, 23.

15. (3) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 160, 22.

16. (21) David Ragan, Ford, 160, 21.

17. (27) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 160, 20.

18. (16) William Byron, Chevrolet, 160, 19.

19. (6) Kurt Busch, Ford, 160, 18.

20. (9) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 160, 32.

21. (30) Michael McDowell, Ford, 160, 16.

22. (24) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 160, 15.

23. (29) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 160, 14.

24. (18) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 160, 13.

25. (8) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 160, 12.

26. (28) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 160, 0.

27. (14) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 160, 11.

28. (31) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 159, 0.

29. (25) Erik Jones, Toyota, 159, 8.

30. (35) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 158, 7.

31. (33) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 157, 6.

32. (37) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 157, 0.

33. (36) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 157, 4.

34. (38) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 152, 3.

35. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, accident, 146, 8.

36. (22) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, transmission, 120, 1.

37. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, brakes, 113, 1.

38. (19) Bubba Wallace Jr, Chevrolet, engine, 108, 1.

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Martin Truex Jr. crosses the finish line to win Sunday’s Pocono 400. Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are the only Cup Series drivers to have won multiple times this season. Derik Hamilton AP Photo

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 139.533 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 52 minutes, 0 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 2.496 seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 23 laps.

Lead Changes: 11 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R.Blaney 1-11; K.Harvick 12-25; J.Johnson 26-27; B.Keselowski 28-34; K.Harvick 35-43; M.Truex 44-53; B.Keselowski 54-56; K.Harvick 57-78; B.Wallace 79-82; K.Harvick 83-126; Ky.Busch 127-139; M.Truex 140-160

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Harvick 4 times for 89 laps; M. Truex Jr. 2 times for 31 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 13 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 11 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 10 laps; D. Wallace Jr. 1 time for 4 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 2 laps.

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