NASCAR – Gordon wins Pocono

June 12, 2011
by Lee

Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR Jeff Gordon crosses the finish line to win the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway, his second victory of 2011.

The drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series set forth today to tackle the Tricky Triangle that is Pocono Raceway in the 5-Hour Energy 500. Pocono is a two and a half mile track that features three different turns and a long straightaway on the front stretch. The race began with a chance of rain in the forecast, and everyone wondering if the race would actually go the full distance. The race did go the full 500 miles and saw Jeff Gordon capture his second checkered flag of the season.

The race featured long green flag runs and plenty of green flag pit stops. Denny Hamlin dominated the early portions of the race by leading 76 laps, but a flat tire during a caution period ended his chances for victory. Hamlin ended up taking home the 19th position.

The beginning of the race also brought us some interesting racing between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Harvick and Busch ended up side by side with Harvick running Busch to the low side of the front stretch. The two continued to battle side by side for a number of laps. The antics from both drivers drew the attention of race control, and both drivers were warned to stop the extracurricular activities and run their race. No further instances occurred on the track, but Harvick indicated after the race that was only the beginning of how he would race Busch in future races.

NASCAR made a gear change for the Pocono race which allowed the drivers to return to shifting that was prevalent years back before NASCAR mandated gearing in the cars. The shifting may have led to a number of cars having transmission and engine trouble throughout the race. Carl Edwards was one of these drivers who experienced an engine issue. In one of the most bizarre instances I have seen in a race, Edwards became part of the broadcast team after his power plant in the car gave up. Now Edwards giving commentary during the race after an engine failure is not that big of a deal. The bizarre moment came on the last two laps when he was back in his car and actually finished the race avoiding a DNF. Edwards finished in the 37th position 141 laps behind. I have just never seen someone participate in the event, become part of the broadcast crew, and then reenter the competition at the end.

Tony Stewart also encountered gear trouble today when he lost third gear in his car. Stewart was very critical of the gear rule change and sarcastically thanked NASCAR via his radio for the rule change. Stewart wound up in the 21st position finishing on the lead lap.

Jeff Gordon’s win is the 84th career win and moves him in to a third place tie on the Sprint Cup all time wins list with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison. This is Gordon’s second win of the season, and the first time since the 2007 season that he has won more than one race in a season. With the win, Gordon jumped to the 11th position in the point standings, just six points away from 10th place Ryan Neman. With the two wins this season, Gordon puts himself in a nice position to make the Chase on races won should he not be able to crack the top ten prior to the cut off.

In post race inspection, Kyle Busch’s third place finishing car failed with a height issue on the left-front end. The car has been confiscated by NASCAR and will be shipped to the Research and Development center. Penalties associated with the infraction will likely be announced on Tuesday.

Race Stats:
Leaders: 10 for 18 Lead Changes
Cautions: 4 for 14 Laps
Lead Lap Cars: 24
Time of the Race: 3:28:39
Average Speed: 145.385 MPH

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