NASCAR Pocono Cup race results: Denny Hamlin pulls away late to win

Denny Hamlin now has three wins on the season.

Denny Hamlin held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. in a three-lap overtime shootout to win Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway. The Toyota driver seemed headed for an easy runaway victory until two late cautions created an eventful and uncertain ending to an otherwise-routine race.

Hamlin took the lead for good when Erik Jones made his last pit stop with 20 laps remaining. (Kyle Busch had pitted from the lead with 30 to go, then Jones went 10 laps later). Despite running carefully to save fuel, Hamlin was virtually unchallenged until the overtime. Even so, he had no problem holding off the field for the final three laps.

“We felt pretty good about the fuel,” Hamlin said. “I tried to save as much as I could under caution, but if it wasn’t going to be enough, it wasn’t going to be enough. We did everything we could to win, so I was good with whatever happened. In this case it worked out. No, it never sputtered or acted like it was going to run out of gas.”

The rest of the top-10 behind Hamlin, Jones and Truex Jr. in the 160-lap race at the 2.5-mile, three-sided track in northeastern Pennsylvania: William Byron, pole-winner Kevin Harvick, Daniel Hemric, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.

The victory was Hamlin’s 34th in 491 career starts, his third in 21 starts this year and his fifth in 28 career starts at Pocono breaking a tie for all-time wins with Jeff Gordon. His most recent Cup Series victory was in March, when he won at Texas Motor Speedway. He finished second last weekend in New Hampshire, only his second top-five finish in his last 11 starts before Sunday.

 

Kyle Busch won the first 50-lap, caution-free stage ahead of Logano, Harvick, Hamlin and Truex Jr. The second 50-lap stage went to Jimmy Johnson (his first stage victory this season and only his second ever, the last coming in 2017) ahead of Harvick, Logano, Truex and Hamlin. Hamlin (the last 32 laps), Kyle Busch (56) and Harvick (62) dominated, leading all but 13 of the 163 laps.

The on-track cautions were at lap 85 for a Chase Elliott incident, at lap 100 for Blaney/Daniel Suarez contact and at lap 123 when David Ragan crashed after contact with Paul Menard. The final two cautions inside the final five laps involved Josh Bilicki in the first incident and Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell in the other. There was a brief caution for rain at lap 93 and competition cautions to close the first and second stages.

Sunday morning’s pre-race inspection process was eventful. All told, nine cars flunked, led by Austin Dillon’s Chevrolet, a two-time loser. The second failure – the car’s right rear was deemed too low – led to the ejection of Richard Childress Racing engineer Ryan Sparks.

The Chevys of Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson and Byron also flunked, as did the Fords of Blaney, McDowell and Cory LaJoie, and the Chevys of Chris Buescher, Ross Chastain and Reed Sorenson.

The Cup Series tour next goes to Watkins Glen International for a 90-lap, 220-mile road race, where Elliott is the defending champion.

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Sights from the NASCAR action at Pocono Raceway, Sunday July 28, 2019

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Sunday, July 28, 2019

               1. (9)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 163.

               2. (4)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 163.

               3. (8)  Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 163.

               4. (31)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 163.

               5. (23)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 163.

               6. (1)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 163.

               7. (17)  Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 163.

               8. (11)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 163.

               9. (5)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 163.

               10. (30)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 163.

               11. (13)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 163.

               12. (3)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 163.

               13. (2)  Joey Logano, Ford, 163.

               14. (19)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 163.

               15. (32)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 163.

               16. (33)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 163.

               17. (10)  Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 163.

               18. (16)  Paul Menard, Ford, 163.

               19. (34)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 163.

               20. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 163.

               21. (14)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 163.

               22. (21)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 163.

               23. (22)  Matt Tifft #, Ford, 163.

               24. (7)  Daniel Suarez, Ford, 163.

               25. (35)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 163.

               26. (36)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 162.

               27. (6)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 162.

               28. (24)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 159.

               29. (25)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 159.

               30. (37)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 159.

               31. (28)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 158.

               32. (38)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 158.

               33. (27)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 158.

               34. (29)  Austin Theriault, Ford, 157.

               35. (26)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, Driveshaft, 146.

               36. (15)  David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 123.

               37. (20)  Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Accident, 114.

               38. (18)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 83.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  133.804 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 22 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.341 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 24 laps.

Lead Changes:  9 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick 1-39;K. Busch 40-51;K. Harvick 52-71;K. Busch 72-97;J. Johnson 98-100;K. Harvick 101-103;D. Hamlin 104-115;K. Busch 116-133;E. Jones 134-143;D. Hamlin 144-163.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kevin Harvick 3 times for 62 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 56 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 32 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 10 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 3 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,22,4,11,19,42,20,10,1,14

Stage #2 Top Ten: 48,4,22,19,11,3,20,2,88,42

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