Few racing series can handle a dual weekend of motorsports action at race tracks that are over 900 miles apart like NASCAR. With only two days to bring home three winners, NASCAR proved they can handle the challenges thrown at both Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
U.S. Cellular 250
The busy race weekend began with XFINITY Series action in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway. Led to the drop of the green flag by pole winner Ryan Preece, the 250-lap race would give the young Joe Gibbs driver a chance to pick up a Stage 1 and overall race win after leading more than 140 laps of this race to grab the checkers.
Despite having to face a hard-charging Kyle Benjamin in a green-white checkered finish that came after the third restart in the race’s final 17 laps, no one could beat the driver who ran full-time in 2016, but chose to funnel his 2017 XFINITY Series resources into a two-race stint with JGR.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Preece, who owns 17 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins, including two this season. “I’ve got to thank everybody.”
Benjamin, who was forced to settle for a runner-up finish, also runs part-time for JGR and had his best career finish on Saturday.
“I wanted to make it happen right there,” said Benjamin. “Regardless, congrats goes out to my teammate.”
Although points leader Elliott Sadler would come home 12th, the veteran driver maintains a 54-point leader over William Byron, who finished ninth.
Meanwhile in Long Pond, PA another young driver would race his way to his fourth win of the season following Saturday’s Overton’s 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway. While 22-year-old Christopher Bell handed over the first two 15-lap Stage wins to team owner Kyle Busch, moments after the restart that began the green-flag portion of the final stage on Lap 36, Busch’s No. 51 Toyota was wiped out by contact from Justin Haley’s Chevrolet, giving Bell a chance to take the lead and the win.
Following a final restart on Lap 45, it took Bell nine laps to race from fifth to the lead. After battling side-by-side with Nemechek for two laps, Bell gained momentum through the Tunnel Turn and made the winning pass in Turn 3 and taking the checkers.
Bell leaves Pocono with an 18-point lead in the standings over defending champion Johnny Sauter, who started from the rear of the field because of unapproved adjustments to his No. 21 Chevrolet and finished fifth.
“I’m just so thankful to be able to drive this thing,” said Bell. “It’s a dream come true to be able to compete in the NASCAR series and to be able to drive for Toyota and Kyle Busch Motorsports. It’s just a dream come true.”
Following this win, Bell takes over the lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series going into Michigan.
After grabbing the pole for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch took the checkered flag after doing what it took to hold off the competition.
After winning Stage 1 Busch fell back in the field, giving the No. 14 Clint Bowyer a chance to take his first Stage win of the season in Stage 2. Despite this win, when Busch returned from the pits to the track on Lap 135 he had fresher tires than those on the cars ahead of him and in short order he would pick off the competition, including Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and points leader Martin Truex Jr. to break his 2017 winless streak at Pocono.
“It’s been a frustrating year, but an awesome day today,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “This is also a meaningful win for me in another way. This is the first time I’ve been to victory lane in a points-paying race since my grandmother passed away. This one’s for her, and she’s smiling down on us here today, and I appreciate that.”
As Busch would find a break from the drought Martin Truex, Jr. would obtain an 85 points lead over second place Kyle Larson as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen next weekend.
Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all of the latest NASCAR news.