Rain played a major factor in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway with heavy downpours delaying the start and then another round of storms bringing the day to early conclusion.
Through the opening laps it appeared it might be a great day for Joe Gibbs Racing with all three cars showing speed early on, but unfortunately the good fortune would not last and when NASCAR called the race after just 98 of the scheduled 160 laps it would be Joey Logano leading the team with a 13th-place finish, while an accident just before the last round of rain left Denny Hamlin back in 29th and an early part failure resulted in a 33rd-place finish for Kyle Busch.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in 14th and through the first several laps he showed good speed as he drove his way up into the top ten, but the handling on the car quickly shifted to the tight side and he wasn’t able to exit the turns to build the momentum for the long straight-aways of the track known as the tricky triangle. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff and The Home Depot team would make improvements to the No. 20 Camry and Logano was beginning to make his way back toward the top ten once again, but unfortunately the rain would cut the race short. It was a disappointing 13th-place finish for Logano who had won at Pocono just a few weeks earlier this season.
Hamlin qualified his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota on the outside pole and it didn’t take long for him to take the familiar position of leader at Pocono Raceway. Hamlin would grab the top spot on just the second lap and lead for the next three laps before the handling on his FedEx Camry started to move to the free side. Hamlin would struggle with the handling on the car for much of the race, but it was a lap-91 wreck that brought his day to an early conclusion. Restarting 16th Hamlin was looking to get back up into the top ten before the next round of heavy rain, but Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth got together at the front of the field and the 17 car would come off the outside wall and down the track directly into Hamlin’s path. With no-place to go, Hamlin would receive significant damage to his FedEx Camry and his day would end early with a 29th-place finish.
Kyle Busch started 20th in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota and quickly proved to have one of the fastest cars on the track as he used the opening laps of the race to make his way toward the top ten. Busch was about set to do just that prior to a scheduled competition caution on lap 20, when he would bring the caution out a lap early broken rear brake rotor that forced him up into the outside wall. The damage would be significant and force Busch to the garage for repairs. By the time he was able to return to the track Busch was 23 laps down. Despite still showing a fast car once he returned to the track, he would go on to finish the rain-shortened race a disappointing 33rd.
Jeff Gordon picked up the win, with Kasey Kahne second, Martin Truex, Jr. third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five. There were three cautions for a total of 14 laps with 13 lead changes among 10 different drivers. The race was called after 98 of the scheduled 160 laps due to rain.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series move to the road course of Watkins Glen next Sunday, August 12. Coverage of the race will be on ESPN beginning at 1 PM ET (pre-race show starts at Noon ET). You can also keep track of all the action every day by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.