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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Racing roundup: Kyle Busch tops Pocono field, ties Rusty Wallace on career wins list

Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Matt Slocum / AP)
Kyle Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Matt Slocum / AP)
Associated Press

Kyle Busch won at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, on Sunday to move into a tie for ninth on the NASCAR Cup Series victory list.

Busch, who topped 200 career wins across all three national series earlier this season, won for the 55th time in Cup and matched Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace on the list.

“Pocono’s been a struggle but it’s a lot better now,” Busch said.

Busch had the dominant car down the stretch and won for the first time in nearly two months. Busch has spent most of the last few months complaining about NASCAR’s current rules package designed to increase side-by-side racing and manufacture competition.

When he was back in the pack, Busch had no trouble passing the leaders at Pocono.

“I passed one guy on the outside of Turn 3 and that was the only guy I needed to pass, I guess,” Busch said. “It was hard otherwise. We kind of got stuck in traffic back there a little bit earlier in the race. We were fifth or sixth and couldn’t really do anything.”

Busch took off on the final restart with nine laps left and cruised to the finish line for his 13th top-10 finish in 14 races this season. Busch and Martin Truex Jr. had been the class of the field this season but Truex was knocked out with an engine issue in the No. 19 Toyota. He had won three of the last five races. Kevin Harvick was nipping at a win until a botched pit stop and a cracked steering box took him out of contention.

Brad Keselowski was second and Erik Jones third.

It was another wildly successful day for Joe Gibbs Racing: Busch won, Jones was third and Denny Hamlin was sixth. Truex had a fast car and looked like a contender until his engine woes.

“I can’t say enough about everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing,” Busch said.

Hamlin opened the season with a win in the Daytona 500 in memory of J.D Gibbs, Joe’s son who died earlier this year following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. JGR has been the class of NASCAR with a series-best nine wins and Gibbs was elected this month to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

IndyCar

Scott Dixon has had a lot of memorable days as a five-time IndyCar champion.

There’s a good chance he’ll never forget what happened Sunday in Detroit.

Dixon won the Detroit Grand Prix, his first victory of the year and 45th of his career, just hours after being honored by Queen Elizabeth II.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver from New Zealand finished nearly 2 seconds in front of rookie Marcus Ericsson, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.

Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud finished 17th after colliding with Patricio O’Ward and Tony Kanaan on the opening lap.

Josef Newgarden, who won Saturday on Belle Isle, was able to return to the race after being knocked out of it following an accident with James Hinchcliffe and finished 19th in the 22-car field.

Felix Rosenqvist spun out late in the 70-lap race, bringing out a red flag to potentially set the stage for a dramatic finish.

Dixon refused to lose the lead.

The race resumed with four laps to go and no one could catch Dixon’s Honda-powered car. Dixon trails just A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti in IndyCar wins and only Foyt has won more championships in the open-wheel series. Dixon won for the third time on Belle Isle, tying Helio Castroneves for the most victories on the road course along the banks of the Detroit River.

Dixon took the lead midway through race when rookie Santino Ferrucci went in for his first pit stop. Ferrucci led for 20 laps after being out front for only one lap this year, briefly racing in front of the pack last week at the Indianapolis 500, and finished 10th.

Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth II announced Dixon was being given the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to motorsport. He will receive the award at Buckingham Palace.

Britain’s monarch honors national and commonwealth individuals for their contribution to society in June and on New Year’s Day.

“It’s definitely a huge honor and totally different to any kind of racing accolade I’ve had,” Dixon said. “I think of being very lucky and fortunate on the racing side of things. I’ve achieved a lot. But to get recognition like that, very few people do.”

NHRA

Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to his first Funny Car victory since the end of the 2017 season, beating Robert Hight in an explosive final round at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois.

Johnson’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat had an engine explosion just before the finish line in a pass of 4.175 seconds at 229.86 mph. He won for the 16th time in his Funny Car career and for the second time at Route 66 Raceway.

“It felt good coming here,” Johnson said. “This is a track where we’ve had a lot of success. I think we’ve been in the finals four out of the last six years here. I’m not superstitious, but the way the weekend went, things just kept pointing to it. I felt good about it. I went up there for the final and really wasn’t even nervous.”

Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, Deric Kramer in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Torrence drove to his fourth consecutive victory this season, beating Mike Salinas with a 3.763 at 326.32.

Kramer powered his Chevrolet Camaro to his first win of the season and third of his career, running a 6.532 at 210.70 to beat Erica Enders. Smith edged Karen Stoffer with a 6.807 at 198.88.

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