Logano Wins at Pocono!
Joey Logano started from the pole, led the most laps and earned his first victory of the season in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 from Pocono Raceway.
Logano would use a late-race pass of Mark Martin and then drove away to earn the win, while teammate Denny Hamlin finished fifth and for the second straight week an engine problem left Kyle Busch with a disappointing 30-place finish.
Logano set a track record on Saturday morning to earn the pole for his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. He would race out to the early lead and only relinquish the top spot when the field began to utilize various pit strategies. Logano would race inside the top five for nearly the entire race and crew chief Jason Ratcliff and the Home Depot crew would make the necessary adjustments to keep what had been a fast car all week at the front of the field. Logano would bring his Camry down pit road for what proved the final time on lap 125 and fast work by his Home Depot pit crew would allow him to leave the pits in the top spot. He would race out to the lead on the next restart and when a final caution came out again on lap 149 the decision was made to remain on the track despite knowing that the car was going to be tight on fuel. Veteran Mark Martin would jump to the lead with eight laps remaining, but Logano kept fighting and found his way to the back bumper of the No. 55 Camry of Martin. Logano would manage to get Martin just loose enough to make the pass with four laps to go and drive off to victory. It was Logano’s first victory of the season and second of his career as he became the youngest ever to win at Pocono Raceway at the age of 22.
Hamlin, who is always a favorite at the track nicknamed the Tricky Triangle, started his No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the fifth position today and would battle through several moments of adversity to earn a solid fifth-place finish. Hamlin would make a big move on the first lap of the day, but as he moved around several cars and was racing for the second spot he would get up and into the No. 99 car of Carl Edwards. The contact would cause his fender to rub against his tire causing a flat, but fortunately a larger wreck on the same lap would bring out a caution and allow him to go down pit road for a quick fix. He would remain on the lead lap, but was now off sequence with many of the leaders and at the back of the field. Hamlin would utilize pit strategy, tremendous work by his crew and of course his great skill on the 2.5-mile track to work his way back to the front of the field and by lap 23 he was the leader. More adversity would strike on lap 65 when Hamlin would find himself out of fuel and losing track position as he had to coast onto pit road. A caution would allow Hamlin to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap and from there he was able to work his way back to the front. Despite all that adversity, Hamlin would lead two different times for 21 laps and managed to finish with a strong fifth-place effort.
Busch started his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota in fourth and was strong through the early portion of the race, but got shuffled back in the field a bit while avoiding some early accidents. Still Busch was running inside the top 15 and getting set to restart the race when smoke began to appear from his car. Busch would have to take his No. 18 M&Ms Camry to the garage on lap 77 and was unable to return. He would have to settle for a disappointing 30th-place finish.
Mark Martin was second behind Logano, while Tony Stewart was third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Hamlin rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 35 laps with 19 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Michigan International Speedway next week. Coverage of the race from the will be broadcast live by TNT starting at 1 PM ET (pre-race show starts at Noon). You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.