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Race Report: Pocono, August

Denny Hamlin led Joe Gibbs Racing in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 from Pocono Raceway with a ninth-place finish. Meanwhile an accident and engine failure left his teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch to finish 34th and 42nd respectively.

Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota in the 13th position and with several early cautions fuel strategy would quickly become a factor on this Sunday afternoon. Hamlin would battle his way into the top ten and battled much of the first half of the race to remain in the top ten while battling mostly loose handling conditions. Hamlin would get caught in the middle of a three wide situation on lap 117 causing his No. 11 Camry to get loose and up into the wall. He would manage to save the FedEx Toyota from major damage however, while many others wrecked behind him in what was the day’s big one. For a moment it appeared fuel strategy was going to play out perfectly for Hamlin who was running third with under 30 laps to go, but an untimely caution would allow the rest of the field to catch the leaders with fresher tires. Hamlin would battle to remain inside the top ten over the course of the final two restarts and took the checkered flag in ninth.

Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 18th position and was patient through the early going battling his way inside the top 15. With several early cautions fuel mileage would become a factor early this afternoon with many in the field utilizing a number of different pit strategies. Kenseth would enter the top five several times over the course of each fuel cycle and took his first lead of the day on lap 103. He was running just outside the top 15 when his teammate Hamlin got loose while running in the middle of a three wide situation. Although Hamlin didn’t spin and was able to save his car from significant damage many others would wreck behind him including Kenseth who was pushed hard into the outside wall on lap 117. The damage to the Dollar General Camry would be too great to continue and Kenseth would be scored in 38th.

Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota from the seventh position and as he had done all weekend showed he had a car capable of battling for a spot among the leaders. Unfortunately Busch would never have the opportunity to display whether or not his No. 18 Camry could win the battle on the tricky triangle. He would radio in after 23 laps that something was wrong with his engine. Busch would bring the M&Ms Toyota down pit road and ultimately into the garage. His day was over early and he would be scored in 42nd place.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the race, followed by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 35 laps and 15 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take to the road course of Watkins Glen International next week. ESPN will have live coverage from Watkins Glen, NY on Sunday, August 10 at Noon ET (race begins 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

Darrell Wallace, Jr. Dominates on the Dirt at Eldora Speedway to Win Second Race of Season

RACE: 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic
TRACK: Eldora Speedway
DRIVER: Darrell Wallace, Jr.
TRUCK: No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra
START: 6th
FINISH: 1st
LAPS: 150/150
LAPS LED: 2 Times for 97 Laps
POINTS POSITION: 6th (28 points out of 1st)

Post-Race Highlights:

  • Returning to the famed Eldora Speedway, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and the No. 54 ToyotaCare Toyota Tundra team entered the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic looking to improve on their seventh-place finish in the inaugural event last season. Following qualifying and a round of heat races, Wallace and his team earned the sixth stating position for the 150-lap, three segment event.
  • With the race underway, Wallace patiently began to make his way to the front of the field and was scored in the third position when the first caution of the race came out on lap 25 for teammate Erik Jones. Wallace quickly radioed the team that his Toyota Tundra was really good. The race restarted on lap 32 with Wallace third.
  • Slipping a couple of positions following the restart, a quick caution on lap 36 bunched the field back up and gave Wallace the opportunity to restart the race on lap 42 from the fourth position.
  • Picking off one position at a time, Wallace moved into second on lap 45 and began battling Kyle Larson for the lead before clearing the 32 truck on lap 48 to lead the race for the first time.
  • Leading the remaining laps of segment one, Wallace pitted under the lap 60 break for four tires, fuel and to check for damage sustained when he hit the outside wall passing Larson for the lead. With the field frozen during the break, Wallace led the field back to green on lap 62.
  • For the second segment, Wallace led the field for all 50 laps. The team opted to stay out during the second scheduled break on lap 110 and restarted the race on lap 112 from the first position.
  • With a fast truck and happy with the handling, Wallace continued to lead the field until Larson made his way to second and to the bumper of the No. 54 Toyota Tundra. Able to make a pass on lap 127, Larson and Wallace were exchanging the lead when the caution waved on lap 127 and Larson was scored as the race leader. The race restarted on lap 132 and Wallace was able to quickly regain the lead after Larson made contact with the outside wall.
  • Staying out front for the remainder of the race, Wallace was able to earn his second win of the 2014 season.
  • Following Wallace across the finish line were Ron Hornaday, Jr., Ryan Blaney, Ken Schrader and Ty Dillon.
  • Darrell Wallace, Jr.’s Post-Race Thoughts:

    “This is awesome. I am still trying to figure out how this happened. All day I was like ‘I don’t know what I am doing.’ This year was a little different for us. We went and tested a few weeks ago and this time we knew what to test for. We weren’t that sideways last year, so I was able to practice that during the test. We just got better throughout the day. I said from the start of the race our Toyota Tundra was really good and it showed. We were able to start sixth, get out to the lead fairly quick and control our own destiny. So proud to work with my guys, these guys never give up no matter what race we go to – road course, dirt, Martinsville, one of our best tracks, or Gateway, a track we’d never been to – and they always want to win. Excited to go to Pocono Raceway, but very cool to be here at Eldora Speedway and to get the golden shovel and iconic trophy with such a great fan base.”

Erik Jones Drives the No. 20 NarcolepsyLink.com Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway

No. 20 NarcolepsyLink.com Toyota News and Notes:

  • JONES LOOKING TO CARRY MOMENTUM FROM TRUCK SERIES WIN INTO NATIONWIDE SERIES DEBUT: 18-year-old Erik Jones will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut behind the wheel of the No. 20 NarcolepsyLink.com Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday night’s EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The Michigan native will be looking to carry the momentum of his hard-fought victory in the American Ethanol 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway last Friday night into a successful debut in NASCAR’s second division this weekend. Jones, driving the No. 51 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, led a race-high 131 laps and held off a hard-charging Ryan Blaney in the closing laps to pick up his second career Truck Series victory in just his ninth series start. Last November at Phoenix International Raceway, Jones became the youngest winner in the history of the Truck Series when at the age of 17 years, five months and nine days old, he led a race-high 84 laps en route to the victory.
  • LUCKY SEVENTH: Jones will be the seventh different driver to make a start behind the wheel of the No. 20 Camry in 2014. Matt Kenseth has made 11 starts for the team this season, while Darrell Wallace Jr. has two starts and Kenny Habul, Sam Hornish Jr., Michael McDowell and Daniel Suarez each have made one appearance. This weekend’s event is one of three scheduled for Jones this season with the No. 20 team. He will also be behind the wheel for short track-action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 22 and at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 8. The three-race Nationwide Series gig for JGR compliments his limited schedule in the Truck Series, where he has eight races remaining on his 12-race schedule in the No. 51 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
  • JGR AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY: Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has 35 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Chicagoland Speedway, with four wins, nine top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes, an average start of 9.3 and average finish of 11.8. The team has four poles and has led 867 laps on their way to completing 6,880 of 7,008 attempted laps (98.2%). Kyle Busch has collected three of JGR’s wins (2008, 2010 and 2013) and Joey Logano scored the other (2009).
  • POINTS UPDATE: After 17 races this season, the No. 20 Camry team currently ranks seventh in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner Point Standings, 132 points out of first. The team has produced six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2014. Sam Hornish Jr. registered a season-best second-place result for the team at Michigan International Speedway in June.
  • KEEPING UP WITH JONES: Keep up with Jones’ latest happenings through social media on both Twitter and Instagram via @erik_jones and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ErikJonesRacing.
  • RACE INFO: The EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway is scheduled for Saturday, July, 19, 2014 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Watch and listen live on ESPN2, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
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