Pocono Results: 8th, 22nd, 43rd
Joe Gibbs Racing got off to a rough start in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 from Pocono Raceway with a lap one wreck providing a big setback to Matt Kenseth’s day and Denny Hamlin suffering a race-ending accident just 14 laps into the race.
Kyle Busch managed to fair much better running in the top five for much of the day before earning JGR’s best finish of the day in eighth. Meanwhile the lap one wreck proved to only be the start of a rough day for Kenseth, who finished 22nd and the early end to Hamlin’s day left him back in 43rd.
Busch started his No. 18 Peanut Butter M&Ms Toyota in the second position and settled in behind race leader Jimmie Johnson for the opening portion of the race. Busch would remain in the top five early but found his car loose in traffic. A caution on lap 52 would bring the No. 18 Camry back down pit road for four tires and adjustments. With many others on a different pit strategy, Busch would restart 16th on lap 58. The team changed pit strategies and came in a bit earlier than scheduled for two tires while under green flag conditions on lap 74. A caution would come out just a lap later allowing many of the other cars that had not pitted to come down under the yellow flag. That allowed Busch to leapfrog ahead of them and restart in the eighth position on lap 82. He would climb to sixth on the next lap. Busch would restart fourth with just over 60 laps to go and used a great restart to reclaim the second position. The 18 team would call for four tires on its final green flag stop of the day with 30 to go. With several other teams taking just two tires, Busch would lose a bit of track position and was running eighth when a caution came out with 11 laps to go. One last caution would come out with five to go and Busch would survive the final restart and final two laps to earn a solid eighth-place finish.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota from the 24th position but barely even had a chance to settle in when the 17 and 42 cars came together on turn one of lap one and in the process collected his Camry. Kenseth would bring the Home Depot Husky Toyota down pit road for repairs and the team managed to keep him on the lead lap but he was forced to restart at the back of the field. Kenseth would begin to work his way back up through the field and managed to get back into the top ten during a series of green flag pit stops. Once the field cycled through he was set to battle in 15th, but NASCAR ruled he was too fast on pit road causing a pass through penalty that would result in him falling a lap off the pace to the leaders. Following a caution Kenseth found himself restarting 30th and a lap down on lap 58. He would quickly gain an additional spot to get into the lucky dog position and the caution the 20 team needed would come on lap 75 when the 48 car got into the wall. The team would use the opportunity to work on the car and make additional repairs from the lap one accident leaving Kenseth to restart 30th. He would climb his way back into the top 20 with 60 laps to go and would restart 18th on lap 108. Kenseth would report that his car was tight and the team would make its final green flag pit stop with 30 to go for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He would run 17th with 20 to go and re-entered the top 15 when a final caution came out with 11 laps to go. The team would make the call to remain out on the track and restart 12th with eight to go. The Home Depot Husky Camry had moved from tight to loose however and Kenseth would spin with five laps to go. The No. 20 crew would get four fresh tires on the car for the final restart and Kenseth would battle through a rough day for a 22nd-place finish.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the ninth position but the driver with the highest rating at the track known as the tricky triangle wouldn’t get the opportunity to showcase his skill for long on this Sunday afternoon unfortunately. Hamlin would snap loose going into turn three on lap 15 causing his FedEx Camry to go hard up into the outside wall. He was able to drive his car to the garage, where the team determined the damage was too great to continue. His day would be over and he would be scored 43rd.
Kasey Kahne won the race, followed by Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were nine cautions for a total of 35 laps and 27 lead changes among 14 different drivers.