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AP photo by Matt Slocum / NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch tosses his 6-year-old son Brexton into the air as he celebrates after winning Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Busch had a Joe Gibbs Racing team member slide into his race car through the window Sunday afternoon to try to figure out how to mend a fried stick shifter welded in fourth gear.

It's rare for a NASCAR driver to have a passenger, so Busch made small talk with car chief Nate Bellows during the pit stop.

"Wait," Busch joked, "you don't want to go with me?"

The No. 18 Toyota Camry never really did get fixed. There were 115 miles to the finish of the 350-mile Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway, Busch had a fried clutch, only one gear and he had to rush his car chief out of the car. But he had a full tank of gas, so he hit the pedal.

Busch came through in the clutch — even when he drove without one — and busted Hendrick Motorsports' winning streak to deny the organization a shot at NASCAR history when he raced to his second victory of the season.

"Put as much as gas in it as we can, pack that thing full; we're going to run it out the rest of the day," Busch said.

Busch stretched his fuel and outlasted late leaders William Byron of Hendrick and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin as their chance at the checkered flag disappeared over the final few laps when they ran out of gas.

"Sometimes these races aren't always won by the fastest car," Busch said.

Sometimes they're won by a car that could use a push to victory lane.

"We're going down the front straightaway and I'm like, damn, I wish I could clutch it," Busch said. "I didn't have one. I probably could have done a better job saving fuel, but I was just lifting off the gas instead of being able to clutch it."

Busch was on the brink of snapping Hendrick's winning streak with a runner-up finish to Alex Bowman in Saturday's Pocono twinbill opener, but he couldn't get the help he needed with the right push. He got the critical pit road assist Sunday, though, and then drove the final 46 laps on the 2.5-mile tri-oval knowing another pit stop would end his race.

"It took some brute force to hold that thing back, to hold it in," Busch said.

Busch raced without a care early and sang a few bars of "Fly Like An Eagle" over the radio. His 59th career Cup Series victory will go down as one of Busch's greatest hits. NASCAR's all-time leader in combined national series wins has 100 in the second-tier Xfinity Series and 61 in the third-tier Truck Series.

Kyle Larson, whose blown tire on the last lap cost him a win Saturday, was second for Hendrick. Hendrick had won six straight Cup Series points races, capped Saturday by Bowman's third win in a 10-race stretch.

Before that, Larson had won four events in a row, including the NASCAR All-Star Race, which doesn't count in the standings. Hendrick was trying to become the first team since NASCAR's modern era began in 1972 to win seven straight points races.

Team Penske's Brad Keselowski was third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Bubba Wallace fifth in his best finish of the season for 23IX Racing, the first-year team co-owned by Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan. Hamlin faded to 14th.

"Fuel mileage got us the last two weeks," Hamlin said. "We can't see the checkered right now."

The checkered flag went to Busch, in a fortuitous way, thanks to the transmission woes that forced him to pit and top off his tank at the same time.

"We would have never been in that position if we didn't have the trans stuck," Busch said. "We got all we could get out of it with everything that was going on."

 

F1: Verstappen's title bid gains momentum

SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has won half of the races this Formula One season.

And if that wasn't worrying enough for his rivals, his car keeps getting faster and faster.

The championship points leader dominated the Styrian Grand Prix to win back-to-back F1 races for the first time.

Leading from start to finish, it was "super nice to drive," the 23-year-old Dutchman said. "I could keep my pace consistent to the end. The balance of the car was the best so far this season."

Verstappen has won three of the past four races, and only a tire problem when leading in Azerbaijan prevented him from making it four.

With a clean start from the pole position Sunday, the Red Bull driver denied seven-time series champion Lewis Hamilton an early attack, and Verstappen remained ahead for the entire race, beating his British rival by more than 35 seconds.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third ahead of Sergio Perez as Red Bull and Mercedes occupied the top four places for the second consecutive time.

"The car was on fire," Verstappen said over the team radio after crossing the finish line.

It was Verstappen's 14th career win and fourth of the season, increasing his lead over Hamilton in the drivers' standings to 18 points after eight races. A race win is worth 25 points.

With Red Bull gaining more momentum over Mercedes in every race, Hamilton is gradually losing sight of a record-breaking eighth title this season. That, however, was not on his mind after eight of 23 races.

"I try not to concern myself with that. Naturally, they are faster, so there is not a lot I can do in that respect," Hamilton said.

The last time Hamilton went without a win in four straight races was more than three years ago, spanning the last three races of 2017 and the first three of the following season.

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