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Fresh tires don’t give Kyle Busch enough edge in final laps at Pocono

Kyle Busch reflected on his day at the Pocono 400, where he finished third.

Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team learned their lesson in last year’s Pocono 400.

But a lesson learned doesn’t equal a race won. Instead, it ended with a third-place finish Sunday.

Last June, Busch’s team elected not to pit for tires late in the race at Pocono Raceway. That resulted in Busch losing the lead to Ryan Blaney with 10 laps to go and finishing ninth.

On Sunday, Busch brought his Toyota down pit road from the lead after a debris caution with 20 laps to go. Meanwhile, race-winner Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott stayed on track.

“That’s where we got burned here in this race, exact situation last year,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “So we didn’t want to make the same mistake again.”

When the race resumed, Busch was eighth behind three cars that took two tires.

Over three restarts in the last 16 laps, Busch climbed to third, with Harvick the last car he passed for the day.

Even with newer tires, Busch said “clean air was king.”

“Once I got back there, I couldn’t pass those guys,” Busch said. “I was stuck where I was at. Four tires just didn’t do anything today. It was certainly all about being out front. That might have been just for as cool as it is, their tires were pretty equal to ours with the cycle on them that we had, a couple of laps, one lap ... Put any which one of us in whatever order that you want and that’s how it was going to end up.”

The winner of last July’s Pocono race, Busch led once for 13 laps Sunday afternoon. That was after he won everything but Cup and Xfinity qualifying during the weekend.

Busch has finished in the top three nine times this season.