Nemechek holds off Busch in 1-2 KBM Trucks finish at Pocono

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Jennifer Cobb (10) passes the damaged truck of Jack Wood (24) after a first lap shunt during a NASCAR Truck Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — John Hunter Nemechek stole a win from Kyle Busch then swiped his traditional victory move.

Take a bow, John Hunter. Even if the boss wasn’t pleased.

Nemechek beat Busch down the stretch and raced to his fifth Truck Series victory this season, earning bragging rights for Kyle Busch Motorsports on Saturday at Pocono Raceway.

“That’s good for the company. 1-2 again,” Busch said.

Nemechek grabbed the checkered flag and bowed to the crowd — “Rowdy” Busch’s signature celebration.

“I did it today wearing a Rowdy helmet, so it only felt fitting to be able to do that,” Nemechek said. “I’m excited. I don’t know exactly how he feels. I think he liked it at Texas. I don’t know if he’ll like it today. We like to have fun. I feel like we’re friends off the racetrack and we can joke around a little bit with each other.”

Nemechek got the last laugh when he denied Busch his third victory in five races the season.

“I’m just super-pumped,” Nemechek said. “Five wins this year and I beat Kyle. Three for five against Kyle is pretty good odds.”

Nemechek, who dropped down from a full-time ride last year in the Cup Series, beat Busch off the final restart with six laps left in the 60-lap race and spoiled Busch’s final race in the series this season. Busch made late contact with Sheldon Creed that derailed his run at the victory.

“Got drilled in the left rear and that basically handed the win to the 4 truck,” Busch said. “We were just fighting for second from here on out.”

Always one of NASCAR’s busiest drivers, Busch pulled double duty at Pocono with a race later in the afternoon in the Cup Series. Pocono is the site of the only NASCAR Cup doubleheader this season. Pocono was set to run a Cup race Saturday afternoon and return Sunday with an Xfinity race and another Cup race to complete the packed race weekend.

Busch finished second, followed by Creed, Tyler Ankrum and Austin Hill.

“I’m sure I’ll get a text later about it,” Nemecheck said. “I don’t know what he’s going to say.”

The Truck Series’ career wins leader with 61, the 36-year-old Busch seemingly had another won in sight until a late caution was called and bunched the field. That was the opportunity Nemechek needed to zip past Busch and prove at Pocono he was the KBM driver to beat. Nemechek beat Busch in all three of Busch’s runner-up finishes.

“John Hunter just slid under me and got the lead,” Busch said.

Busch did score his seventh straight top-two finish.

“Kyle has a rule that if he’s in a firesuit, he’s not coming to victory lane,” Nemecheck said.

NASCAR only allows Cup drivers to compete in five Xfinity and five Truck Series races a year and Busch uses all his starts. NASCAR first set the limit at 10 races in 2017, cut it to seven in 2018 and then five last year.

“I guess I’ll be back in ’22 some time,” Busch said.

Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks have won six of the last seven races at Pocono.

After 13 of 22 races, Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland and Creed are the drivers locked into the Trucks playoffs.

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