The future of the sport of NASCAR seemed to come to life this weekend at Pocono Raceway. On the same weekend that XFINITY Series Driver Bubba Wallace made his first start in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the legendary Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43, the Young Guns of NASCAR proved they are a force to be reckoned with.
Pocono Green 250
Kicking off the weekend was an XFINITY Series win by a young Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran who ended a 46-race win drought at Pocono. The No. 22 of Brad Keselowski may have not started Saturday’s Pocono Green 250 on the pole, but he didn’t let this stop him from sweeping each of the 100-lap event stages to take the win.
Although this Young Gun NASCAR Veteran dominated much of this race, Keselowski would continue to struggle to take the last lap lead away from fellow Monster Energy Young Gun Kyle Larson. That is, until a restart with 16 laps left in this race gave points leader Elliott Sadler an opportunity to give Keselowski the push that he needed to push his way to the lead.
“I drove by a bunch of cars and just pushed as hard as I could,” said Keselowski. “It looked like Kyle’s car was struggling just a little bit and he was getting tight in the middle, loose off. He was doing a really good job holding it low so I couldn’t get a run. On the last lap, I got on his bumper and got him loose, which gave us the win.”
On the eve of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. finished 11th in his last scheduled ride in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Mustang.
Despite Sadler’s bold move to assist the winning driver, he would lose the point lead to Saturday’s bridesmaid Justin Allgaier by one point.
Axalta presents the Pocono 400
While Keselowski was the pride of Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, another Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Young Gun would give his team a much-needed boost after a six-year drought. While the No. 18 of Kyle Busch picked up the pole for Sunday’s race with a pole speed of 179.151 MPH as well as the Stage 1 win, Busch would see his dominance disappear on lap 151 of 160.
As Buschdid everything that he knew how to hold off Ryan Blaney, the son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, old tires would leave Busch struggling for the race win. In fact, Busch would fall back to third after the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick pushed past him one lap later to give Blaney a run for his money as he came within a car-length of the young driver.
Despite his efforts, Blaney crossed the finish line .139 seconds ahead of Harvick to become the 18th different and youngest first-time winner to land in Victory Lane for the Wood Brothers since Trevor Bayne took the checkered flag in the 2011 Daytona 500.
“This exceeds all my dreams,” said Blaney. ““I grew up watching my dad race on this race track, and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in Victory Lane, and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio – a home to me.”
Martin Truex Jr., who came home sixth, also took over the points lead over seventh-place Kyle Larson, who won the second stage of this race.
These NASCAR Young Guns will have a chance to prove that they are the future of this sport next weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all of the latest NASCAR news.