NASCAR Pocono: Bowman wins in dramatic finish as Larson blows tyre

Kyle Larson suffered a painful defeat in the Pocono opener with a tyre puncture on the final lap to hand the NASCAR Cup win to team-mate Alex Bowman.

Larson had worked furiously late in the race to get around Bowman, who had grabbed the lead on a restart on Lap 112 of 130.

Larson finally got in front of Bowman with four laps remaining and appeared to be on his way to his fifth win of the 2021 season when he suddenly slowed exiting Turn 2 of the final lap with a flat left-front tyre.

Larson’s #5 Chevrolet ended up slamming into the Turn 3 wall and Bowman cruised by him to pick up the victory in the first race of a double-header at Pocono Raceway.

Bowman’s win is his third of the season and ends a four-race winning streak by Larson, who had won three points races and the All-Star Race over the past month, with Larson eventually making the finish down in ninth place.

"I hate to win one that way, but hell yeah, I'll take it," Bowman said. "Man, we kind of gave the lead away. [We] were on two tyres, just got super-tight. Tried to hold [Larson] off as long as I could. Can't say enough about everybody at Team Hendrick right now, body shop, engine shop, chassis shop. Top to bottom, everybody is putting race cars on the race track.

"We didn't run that good all day, so I'm kind of in shock. I don't know what to say to you guys. Hell yeah, so cool to see all the fans out here. It's a cool place day, beautiful weather, great day for a race. Heck, yeah, I'll take it."

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Ally

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Ally

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

With Larson fading down the order it promoted a bunch of runners up a spot, with Kyle Busch taking second place for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hendrick Motorsports still enjoyed a strong showing despite Larson’s tyre blow, with William Byron taking third ahead of Joe Gibb Racing’s Denny Hamlin in fourth as Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.

Kurt Busch moved up to sixth place late on for Chip Ganassi Racing ahead of Joey Logano (Team Penske), Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), Larson and Brad Keselowski (Team Penske).

Further frustration will follow for Larson because he will have to move to a back-up car, meaning he will have to start from the rear of the field in Sunday’s second race of the double-header.

Results

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Gap Interval Laps Led
1 48 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 130 2:30'38.151     16
2 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 130 2:30'38.834 0.683 0.683 30
3 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 130 2:30'39.521 1.370 0.687 13
4 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 130 2:30'39.664 1.513 0.143 11
5 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 130 2:30'42.654 4.503 2.990  
6 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 130 2:30'43.595 5.444 0.941 12
7 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 130 2:30'43.940 5.789 0.345 18
8 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 130 2:30'44.607 6.456 0.667  
9 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 130 2:30'44.990 6.839 0.383 15
10 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 130 2:30'45.583 7.432 0.593  
11 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 130 2:30'50.526 12.375 4.943  
12 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 130 2:30'50.749 12.598 0.223  
13 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 130 2:30'52.027 13.876 1.278  
14 23 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 130 2:30'52.722 14.571 0.695  
15 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 130 2:30'53.084 14.933 0.362  
16 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 130 2:30'53.273 15.122 0.189  
17 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 130 2:30'53.843 15.692 0.570  
18 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 130 2:30'54.553 16.402 0.710  
19 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 130 2:30'55.585 17.434 1.032 5
20 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 130 2:30'56.280 18.129 0.695  
21 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 130 2:30'56.690 18.539 0.410  
22 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 130 2:30'57.484 19.333 0.794  
23 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 130 2:30'59.093 20.942 1.609  
24 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 130 2:31'01.771 23.620 2.678  
25 51 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 130 2:31'06.069 27.918 4.298  
26 38 Anthony Alfredo Ford 130 2:31'09.246 31.095 3.177  
27 77 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 130 2:31'13.589 35.438 4.343  
28 15 Australia James Davison Chevrolet 130 2:31'15.916 37.765 2.327  
29 53 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 130 2:31'21.722 43.571 5.806  
30 78 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 130 2:31'27.802 49.651 6.080  
31 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 130 2:31'29.405 51.254 1.603  
32 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 129 2:31'02.091 1 Lap 1 Lap  
33 42 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 129 2:31'08.993 1 Lap 6.902 10
34 52 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 128 2:30'47.929 2 Laps 1 Lap  
35 66 United States Timmy Hill Toyota 126 2:30'43.565 4 Laps 2 Laps  
36 7 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 125 2:31'06.858 5 Laps 1 Lap  
37 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 96 2:02'12.363 34 Laps 29 Laps  
38 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 13 15'37.143 117 Laps 83 Laps  

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