NASCAR

Matt Kenseth wins NASCAR Pocono 400

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Matt Kenseth wins NASCAR Pocono 400

LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Joey Logano was the first leader to fade, his tank empty with three laps left.

Martin Truex Jr. struck E with two laps to go.

Kyle Busch knew his Toyota was about out, too, his shot at a fourth straight win tapped out on the last lap.

One by one, fuel woes cost the contenders. But the pain at the pump for drivers pushing toward the finish line was the break Matt Kenseth needed to coast past them all in the final thrilling laps Sunday to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

The 400-mile race came down to fuel and which cars had it — and which ones didn't.

"I couldn't catch them anyway but I just wanted to get as close as I could in case they ran out," Kenseth said.

Once they ran out, Kenseth not only had enough left in the tank to win, he pulled off a celebratory burnout.

Kenseth's win continued the sensational summer run for Joe Gibbs Racing, making it five wins in the last six races. Busch, who had the other victories, failed in his bid to become the ninth driver since 1972 and the first since Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win four straight Cup races.

Busch had won three straight Cup races and four of five, swept the Xfinity and Cup races last weekend at Indianapolis and won the Truck Series event Saturday at Pocono. Busch remained outside the top 30 in points, the second marker he needs to hit to qualify for the Chase.

"I wish I had saved a little more," Busch said. "I wish I had known (Logano) was that far from making it. It's a shame we couldn't get it done."

With a win, Busch would have had the points needed to at least crack the top 30, though he'd have to stay there for the final five races before the 16-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

"We got greedy," Busch said. "But that's the position we're in."

Truex was 19th, Logano 20th, and Busch 21st.

"I was saving fuel just to cushion it," Logano said. "I thought I was going to be good and then I started running out and knew we weren't going to make it. We were so close. You are counting down the laps in your head thinking you are going to make it but just didn't do it. "

Brad Keselowski was second, followed by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle.

Kenseth had the only position that mattered, winning for the second time this season and for the first time ever at Pocono.

"I never thought I'd win at Pocono," he said.

Kenseth won the fuel gamble and survived a race that resembled a demolition derby: Cars, crews, walls, equipment, all took beatings over 400 miles.

Kasey Kahne kicked off a race stuffed with carnage when his No. 5 got loose, found the opening to pit road and slammed the inside pit road wall. Kahne's hit buckled the wall, sent helmets flying and crew members scurrying for safety.

"I saw the people and I thought to myself that those guys need to take off running and get out of the way," Kahne said.

The race was red-flagged for about 15 minutes while the wall was repaired. No one was hurt.

Pit road proved a dangerous place.

Keselowski slid through his pit stall and took out three members of his crew. His tire changer and tire carrier both jumped on the hood and the team jackman was clipped by the left side of No. 2 Ford. One tire got free and rolled down pit road before it came to a dead stop.

"If we could have, quite honestly, not had that issue during the race, I feel like we probably would have won today," Keselowski said. "That one is on me, so I feel really guilty for my team on that."

Kevin Harvick's No. 4 suffered engine failure only 20 laps into the race. Ricky Stenhouse's No. 17 was a crumpled mess after he slammed into Sam Hornish Jr. Kurt Busch spun, tried to save his car and was plowed into by Hornish. Trevor Bayne was knocked out of the race when a pipe went through his radiator. There were seven cautions in the first 70 laps.

The cautions slowed — or stopped — the race to such a crawl that it took an hour to complete the first 30 laps on the 2 1/2-mile track.

Gordon's farewell to Pocono has him the track's career leader in wins with six and laps led. He had his 32nd top-10 finish in 46 races at the track.

He's still looking for the elusive win that will clinch a Chase berth instead of hoping he can make the field on points.

"We're not in a safe position," Gordon said.

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, titled Tales of the Turtles 400, is coming to Joliet on Sept. 17, Chicagoland Speedway and Nickelodeon announced last week.

It will mark the seventh straight year Chicagoland Speedway will kick off NASCAR's playoffs.

Nickelodeon Sr. Vice President of Sports Marketing Anthony DiCosmo and President of Chicagoland Speedway Scott Paddock joined SportsTalk Live to discuss it all, and even had a few special guests join them as well.

Check it out in the video above.

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Busch had a monster start to the season with a last-lap pass to win the crash-filled Daytona 500.

Busch is sponsored by Monster Energy, which kicked off its first season as the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series Sunday with the season-opener. It wasn't NASCAR finest moment, though, as multiple accidents pared down the field and had a mismatched group of drivers racing for the win at the end.

"The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "This car's completely thrashed. There's not a straight panel on it. The strategy today, who knew what to pit when, what segments were what. Everybody's wrecking as soon as we're done with the second segment.

"The more that I've run this race, the more that I just throw caution to the wind, let it rip and just elbows out. That's what we did."

It appeared to be pole-sitter Chase Elliott's race to lose, then he ran out of gas. So did Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard. As they all slipped off the pace, Busch sailed through for his first career Daytona 500 victory.

It also was the first Daytona 500 win for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart. The three-time champion retired at the end of last season and watched his four cars race from the pits.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner," Stewart said.

Ryan Blaney finished second in a Ford. AJ Allmendinger was third in a Chevrolet, and Aric Almirola was fourth for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The win was a huge boost for Ford, which lured Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet this season and celebrated the coup with its second Daytona 500 victory in three years. Joey Logano won in a Ford in 2015.

The first points race of the Monster era was run under a new format that split the 500 miles into three stages. Kyle Busch won the first stage, Kevin Harvick won the second stage and neither was a contender for the win. NASCAR also this year passed a rule that gave teams just five minutes to repair any damage on their cars or they were forced to retire.

But the race was slowed by wreck after wreck after wreck, including a 17-car accident at the start of the final stage that ended the race for seven-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick. It was a particularly rough incident for Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team, which had all four of its cars collected in the accident.

"Just seems like that could have been avoided and was uncalled for," Johnson said of the aggressive racing behind him that triggered the accident.