Kurt Busch dominated at the beginning, surged back to the lead late and raced to his second win of the season in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.
The defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, favorite on all the Sportsbooks odds, led 110 of the first 150 laps on the 2.5-mile triangle and kept his fifth-place spot in the points standings with six races left to decide the 10 drivers who will race for the title.
The “Chase for the Cup” began at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sept. 18. Busch passed second-place finisher Rusty Wallace coming out of Turn 3 with 17 laps left and held on to the lead even as four cautions came out before the end, which forced three extra laps and the green-white checkered flag
Pocono’s unique 2.5-mile tri-oval has hosted NASCAR’s races since 1974 when the first cup was run up there. The Mattioli family, owner of the track, has been through some ups and downs while battling to make the triangular racetrack a success.
Soon after the first Indy Car race at Pocono, the Schaefer 500 in 1971, Hurricane Agnes hit the area. The ensuing economic crunch and energy crisis threatened Pocono Raceway’s and many other tracks didn’t survive. Pocono Raceway owners Joe and Rose Mattioli considered selling out.
“We were almost bankrupt two or three times but were too dumb to realize it,” Joe Mattioli said. “We were on the verge of selling the track when we received a telephone call from Bill France Sr., who asked us to meet with him in New York.”
”At the meeting he tried to convince me not to sell the track, to stick it out and stay the course. He gave us moralsupport and a lot of good advice.”
“He and his wife, Annie B., came to the race the next two years to show their support for Pocono Raceway. Shortly thereafter he and his son, Bill Jr., gave us our second NASCAR race and as they say, the rest is history.”
“Had it not been for Bill France Sr., Annie B. and Bill Jr., Pocono Raceway would not be here today.”
Since getting that second Cup date in 1982, the track has continued to grow. The Mattiolis welcome nearly 100,000 ticket holders to their home in the Pocono’s twice each year. On the track, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, the late Tim Richmond and Darrell Waltrip are among the track’s standouts.