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Alex Bowman wins Race 1 at Pocono after flat tire dooms leader Kyle Larson on last lap

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Kyle Larson was racing toward history with one turn in sight.

Larson, who had won three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series points races, had driven his way back to the position he's been in for most of the 2021 season — leading the way after passing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman with four laps remaining Saturday in the first race of a weekend doubleheader at Pocono Raceway.

But fate and the Tricky Triangle had other ideas. Coming out of Turn 2, Larson's left front tire went flat, and seconds later his No. 5 Chevrolet was crashing into the Turn 3 outside wall, allowing Bowman to drive by for his third victory of the season.

"I hate to win one that way," Bowman said after taking the checkered flag, "but hell, yeah, I’ll take it!"

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Larson was seeking to become the first driver since former Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson in 2007 to win four consecutive Cup points races. Larson also won the NASCAR All-Star Race earlier this month.

“Disbelief, still,” Larson said. “It would have been to win five in a row (with the All-Star Race included). I felt something in the middle of the tunnel. I wasn’t sure what it was yet. It kind of shredded the tire.”

Larson spent more than a dozen laps trying to pass Bowman to put himself in position to extend his streak, trying multiple maneuvers before he was finally successful.

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"He was starting to get really tight through (turn) one," Larson said of the late-race pass. "I was able to kind of use that to my advantage, fake him low a little bit, mess his angle up, get him tighter off of one. Was finally able to get by him. Thought we were going to get the win, but we didn't.”

Bowman led just 16 of the 130 laps in the Pocono Organics CBD 325 in his No. 48 Chevrolet, the vast majority spent finding a way to keep Larson behind him.

"Man, we didn't run that good all day, so I'm kind of in shock," Bowman said. "Bad-luck Bowman had some luck there. The 5 (Larson) beat us, but their misfortune — it happens, it's part of the sport — so I'll take it."

Alex Bowman celebrates with his crew after winning Saturday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Alex Bowman celebrates with his crew after winning Saturday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

Bowman’s victory pushed Hendrick Motorsports’ Cup Series win streak to six consecutive races, which began with Bowman's win at Dover International Speedway on May 16. That was followed by Chase Elliott's win at Circuit of the Americas on May 23 and three consecutive wins by Larson — at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600, Sonoma Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway last weekend.

Hendrick has nine wins overall this season and tied its team record for consecutive wins set in 2007. With Larson's win in the Coca-Cola 600, Hendrick became the winningest organization in NASCAR history.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch finished second, Hendrick driver William Byron took third with JGR's Denny Hamlin fourth and Team Penske's Ryan Blaney rounding out the top five. Larson limped home in ninth place.

Drivers will have a second chance celebrate in victory lane on Sunday when the Cup Series returns to the track for the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The top 20 finishers from Saturday’s race will be inverted for Sunday’s starting grid, which will put Bowman in 20th place for the back end of the doubleheader.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Pocono Organics CBD 325 Results

Saturday from the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway (starting position in parentheses):

1. (13) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 130 laps, 43 points.

2. (5) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 130, 47.

3. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 130, 50.

4. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 130, 43.

5. (27) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 130, 38.

6. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 130, 45.

7. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 130, 45.

8. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 130, 35.

9. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 130, 45.

10. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 130, 28.

11. (16) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 130, 27.

12. (29) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 130, 25.

13. (14) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 130, 27.

14. (20) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 130, 23.

15. (7) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 130, 22.

16. (11) Aric Almirola, Ford, 130, 21.

17. (9) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 130, 20.

18. (15) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 130, 23.

19. (17) Michael McDowell, Ford, 130, 18.

20. (25) Chris Buescher, Ford, 130, 17.

21. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 130, 18.

22. (22) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 130, 15.

23. (31) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 130, 14.

24. (28) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 130, 13.

25. (35) Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 130, 0.

26. (24) Anthony Alfredo, Ford, 130, 11.

27. (34) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 130, 0.

28. (36) James Davison, Chevrolet, 130, 9.

29. (30) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 130, 0.

30. (32) BJ McLeod, Ford, 130, 0.

31. (37) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 130, 6.

32. (21) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 129, 5.

33. (6) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 129, 4.

34. (33) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 128, 3.

35. (38) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 126, 0.

36. (23) Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet, 125, 1.

37. (19) Ryan Newman, Ford, accident, 96, 1.

38. (26) Cole Custer, Ford, accident, 13, 1.

––– Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 129.451 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 30 minutes, 38 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.683 seconds.

Caution Flags: 8 for 25 laps.

Lead Changes: 14 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K.Larson 0-4; W.Byron 5-17; Ky.Busch 18-26; J.Logano 27-44; R.Chastain 45-54; Ky.Busch 55-72; Ku.Busch 73-83; K.Larson 84-91; Ku.Busch 92; D.Hamlin 93-103; M.McDowell 104-108; Ky.Busch 109-111; A.Bowman 112-126; K.Larson 127-129; A.Bowman 130

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): Ky.Busch, 3 times for 30 laps; J.Logano, 1 time for 18 laps; A.Bowman, 2 times for 16 laps; K.Larson, 3 times for 15 laps; W.Byron, 1 time for 13 laps; Ku.Busch, 2 times for 12 laps; D.Hamlin, 1 time for 11 laps; R.Chastain, 1 time for 10 laps; M.McDowell, 1 time for 5 laps.

Wins: K.Larson, 4; M.Truex, 3; A.Bowman, 3; W.Byron, 1; J.Logano, 1; C.Elliott, 1; Ky.Busch, 1; R.Blaney, 1; B.Keselowski, 1; C.Bell, 1; M.McDowell, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. D.Hamlin, 729; 2. K.Larson, 721; 3. W.Byron, 655; 4. J.Logano, 623; 5. C.Elliott, 617; 6. Ky.Busch, 606; 7. M.Truex, 565; 8. K.Harvick, 552; 9. R.Blaney, 548; 10. B.Keselowski, 519; 11. A.Bowman, 513; 12. A.Dillon, 494; 13. T.Reddick, 444; 14. Ku.Busch, 413; 15. C.Bell, 412; 16. C.Buescher, 409.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Bowman wins Pocono NASCAR race as Kyle Larson crashes on last lap