Keselowski gets Cup win at Pocono
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As rain headed toward Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., a few laps past the halfway point of the 200-lap Good Sam RV Insurance 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch came down pit road under green, gambling that the rain would hit the track but that the race would get restarted.
The gamble paid off, in the form of a win for Keselowski. Busch finished third behind his brother, Kyle Busch.
“It’s not me,” Keselowski said in victory lane of his crew helping him to the win. “It’s good people.”
Nursing a sore back and a broken left ankle from a testing crash at Road Atlanta on Wednesday, Keselowski made himself eligible for the Summer Showdown bonus to potentially be awarded at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend.
“I’d much rather get these guys into the Chase,” Keselowski said.
Joey Logano started on the pole and held the top spot until he lost the lead to Kurt Busch on lap 17. Awhile after Logano fell back a few positions, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch worked their ways up to the top-two spots.
Hamlin took the lead on lap 25, and Kyle Busch joined him up front in the second position on lap 55. The two JGR teammates maintained the top-two positions through two cycles of green flag stops with Hamlin at the point at times and Busch also riding around a few laps in the lead.
Logano regained the lead position with pit strategy during a caution that came out for debris on lap 100. Everyone pitted under the caution, and Logano got off pit road first by taking only two tires. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman also took only two to restart the race in the second and third positions.
Hamlin was the first driver on the restart with four tires, restarting in the fourth spot. With the weather radar indicating that rain was on the way, Hamlin made his way back up to the second spot on lap 106. Logano managed to hold off those with four tires to maintain the lead as the Penske duo of Keselowski and Kurt Busch headed down pit road.
Jimmie Johnson got by Hamlin to claim the second position on lap 118 and move Hamlin back to third. By that time, Kyle Busch had moved into the fourth spot and Dale Earnhardt Jr in fifth. They continued to run in those positions until the rain came and brought out the caution on lap 123 and eventually the red flag on lap 125.
When the race got back underway, everyone except for Keselowski and Kurt Busch pitted for fuel and tires. Jeff Burton took only two tires to restart the race in the third spot.
When the race went back to green, Burton dropped back through the field quickly. Keselowski also lost a few spots on the restart, but unlike Burton, he kept the lead in sight.
Kurt Busch moved to the lead, while Logano and Kyle Busch ran him down from the second and third positions. Keselowski moved back into the top-three, getting by Logano for the third spot.
Kyle Busch took the lead from Kurt Busch with 38 laps to go, and a few laps later, Keselowski got by Kurt Busch and set his sights on Kyle Busch for the top-spot.
On a restart following a caution with 21 laps to go, Keselowski took the lead from Kyle Busch and ran up front the rest of the way. Kyle Busch finished second. After racing side-by-side for a few laps and making contact with each other, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson finished third and fourth.
Neither of the two seemed happy with the physicality after the race.
“I was racing him flat out,” Busch said. “I didn’t know we were supposed to pull over.”
According to Johnson, though, he raced Busch cleaner than Busch raced him.
“I had the opportunity to screw him over and never did it,” Johnson said.
Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five.