Gordon victorious at Pocono
Amanda Vincent is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Sunday was a momentous day, career-wise, for Jeff Gordon. By winning the 5-Hour Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, Gordon tied racing legends Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for third on the Sprint Cup all-time win list with 84 victories. The win was also Gordon’s fifth at Pocono.
Gordon got by then-race leader Juan Montoya on a restart with just over 40 laps to go and stayed up front the rest of the way, except for when the field cycled through the final set of green flag pit stops of the race with 20 to 25 laps to go.
Gordon then cycled back to the lead to claim his second win of the season.
“We just never gave up,” Gordon said of his team’s efforts.
Denny Hamlin dominated throughout the first half of the race, leading a total of 76 laps. From a second-row starting spot, Hamlin made his way to the lead on the first lap. He lost the lead a few times early on through series of pit stops but each time found his way back to the front early on, despite some lackluster stops.
By the second half of the race, though, Hamlin found himself in traffic but still in close proximity to the front of the race field. That changed during the fourth caution of the race that came out with 45 laps to go because of debris. Like the rest of the field, Hamlin pitted for tires, but he experienced a left-rear flat immediately upon his return to the race track. As a result, he had to pit again under that caution and was never able to make his way back toward the front. He wound up finishing 19th.
“When we left pit road and had a flat tire, it’s just not your day,” a frustrated Hamlin said after the race.
Between Hamlin’s early dominance and Gordon taking over in the final laps, Kurt Busch led the way for several laps before settling in to a second-place finish.
“It’s great to run this good,” Busch said of his team’s productivity since Busch’s declaration of dissatisfaction with his car’s performance earlier in the season.
Kyle Busch finished third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Carl Edwards headed into the weekend with the series points lead and nearly a race advantage over second-place Johnson. Despite finishing the race more than 140 laps down in the 37th spot as a result of a mechanical failure, Edwards is still the points leader, but Johnson is now only six points back, and third-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. trails by only 10.
Despite the setback, Edwards was able to find humor in his weekend misfortune.
“One of the valves got in an argument with something in the engine and lost,” he joked when explaining exactly what happened to his car.