Busch appeared to be in contention for the Busch Light Pole. He posted a top-five time during the first round of Cup Series qualifying, and he moved on to the final round with teammate Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing owner Denny Hamlin. Busch then went out for his second qualifying lap, but he lost control in Turn 3 and slammed hard into the wall.
This collision destroyed the rear of the No. 45 and forced the track crews to tow the Toyota Camry back to the garage. Meanwhile, the 23XI Racing crew immediately headed to the hauler to pull out the backup car. This ensured that Busch would drop to the rear of the field for the start of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 on July 24 instead of starting 10th overall.
Busch will join two other drivers that had to drop to the rear after qualifying. Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain both spun during practice and slightly damaged their respective stock cars. Both of their teams had to make repairs, which count as unapproved adjustments.
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Busch Has Extensive Success at Pocono Raceway
Busch will not get the start that he wants at Pocono Raceway after his hard crash in qualifying. However, he has shown in the past that he can recover from a difficult starting position. Two examples are the 2002 and 2004 seasons when he started outside of the top 20 and posted top-five finishes.
Busch also has three career wins at the Tricky Triangle. Though he started in a much better spot for all three races. Two of his wins (2005 and 2007) came after he lined up second in the starting grid. The third win (2016) came after Busch lined up ninth overall.
Busch has not reached Victory Lane in 11 races at Pocono Raceway, but he will set out to snap this streak on July 24. He will line up at the rear of the field, and he will have to navigate his way through the competition at a track where he has led 596 laps and posted 21 top-10 finishes.
Qualifying Indicates That Busch Will Rebound
While Busch will start behind the rest of his peers, he will have 160 laps around the 2.5-mile track to work his way back to the front. There is no guarantee that he will achieve this goal, but qualifying indicates that he will run well.
Busch posted the fourth-fastest lap time during the first round of Group B qualifying. He was one of five Toyota Racing Development drivers to reach the final round. Christopher Bell just missed out on making the cut by posting the sixth-fastest time in Group B.
Two TRD drivers will lead the field to the green flag on July 24. Denny Hamlin won the Busch Light Pole while Kyle Busch posted the second-fastest time. Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex Jr., the two other TRD drivers in the final round, will line up on the fourth row. Bell will round out the group of Toyota drivers as he lines up next to Aric Almirola on the sixth row.