News: Ryan Blaney held off the 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick in a breath-taking battle to take the checkered flag and claim the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of his career on Sunday night at the Tricky Triangle (Pocono Raceway). Blaney joins Austin Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as first-time Cup winners this year.
Blaney took the lead from Kyle Busch with nine laps remaining and never relinquished the top spot, even with a hard push from Kevin Harvick in the final laps. Blaney ended up holding Harvick off by .139 seconds.
After a restart on Lap 148 of 160, Blaney grabbed the lead from pole sitter Kyle Busch on Lap 151, with Busch on older tires, doing everything he could to block Blaney’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Racing side by side with Busch’s No. 18 Toyota down the Long Pond straightaway, Blaney stayed in the gas through the Tunnel Turn and cleared Busch’s Camry off the corner.Busch, who won Stage 1 and led for 100 laps, fell to ninth.
Blaney, 23, is also the youngest first-time winner since Bayne, who was 20 years old when he took the checkered flag for the Wood Brothers at Daytona.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Erik Jones finished a career-best third in the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. Kurt Busch ran fourth, followed by Brad Keselowski, who started on the front row beside Kyle Busch on the final restart but lost positions through the first corner.
Martin Truex Jr. came home sixth and retained the series lead by one point over seventh-place Kyle Larson, who won the second stage. Chase Elliott was eighth, and Kyle Busch slipped to ninth, despite winning the first stage and leading 100 of the 160 laps.
Driving the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. finished 26th, hampered by three pit road speeding penalties, two of which came on consecutive trips to pit road early in the race.