LONG POND, Pa. — Kurt Busch stretched his fuel to the checkered flag and won the Sprint Cup race Monday at Pocono Raceway.

Busch was urged by his team to save fuel and go hard for the win on the final lap. The 2004 champion did all he could to conserve fuel in the No. 41 Chevrolet and even shut off the engine headed into the turns.

Told he was two laps shy, Busch not only had enough fuel left to win his first race of the season but enough for victory burnouts and a celebratory lap around the track.

“The way the fuel mileage played out, I didn’t know if we’d have enough,” Busch said. “This is a wonderful win for us. We’d been so close all year.”

Busch won with interim crew chief John Klausmeier, the lead engineer, calling the shots as Tony Gibson served a one-race suspension.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second, and Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five in a race postponed one day because of rain.

Elliott led 51 laps and seemed poised for most of the race to earn his first career win. The Hendrick Motorsports rookie who replaced Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevy stumbled off late restarts that forced him to fall short at the end.

“I wish I was more patient behind Dale,” Elliott said.

Busch had quietly been having a solid season for Stewart-Haas Racing, posting four top-five finishes and 11 top 10s in 13 starts entering the race. He had reeled off seven straight top 10s — he graded his season an A-minus — but didn’t have the win he needed to earn a sport in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Busch led 32 laps in winning his 28th career Cup race. He became the ninth driver to win a race this season.

Without a caution to help conserve fuel, he nursed what was left in the tank for the last 30-plus laps of green flag racing to snap a 34-race losing skid.

“I was like, whoa, how many laps shy are we? They said two,” he said. “These are really long straightaways at Pocono and you have to manage saving fuel as well as maintaining lap time. So many thoughts can go through your head, but I just stuck with the checklist.”


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