Kahne outduels Gordon for the win at Pocono

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When Jimmie Johnson fell down, the rest of Hendrick Motorsports stood up on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Johnson had been a force in the first half of the race until he cut a right-front tire and slammed the Turn 2 wall just after the halfway point. But his HMS teammates picked up where he left off, with Kasey Kahne leading Jeff Gordon to the checkered flag at the GoBowling.com 400.

Kahne notched his second victory of the season, but was forced to battle for it. He was leading by 7.6 seconds over Gordon before the yellow flag came out for debris in Turn 2 with 12 laps remaining.

On the restart with eight laps to go, Gordon and Kahne went side-by-side for the lead through Turns 2 and 3 before Gordon was able to make the pass coming down the front-stretch.

But contact between Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth with five laps to go sent the latter into a spin and triggered the final restart of the day with two laps left, with Gordon, Kahne, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski as the Top 5.

Kahne proceeded to get a big run on the outside of Gordon in Turn 1 and went side by side with the four-time Sprint Cup champion down the Long Pond straightaway before finishing the pass on the outside of Pocono’s treacherous “tunnel” turn. He would go on to win by 1.4 seconds over Gordon, with Kurt Busch, Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. following.

“I about gave it away – Jeff got by me and then on that final restart, I spun my tires a little bit and he got a great jump,” Kahne told ESPN in Victory Lane. “But Kurt pushed me all the way to Turn 1, which really helped and then I just went off of Turn 2 and it was ‘Go for it and make it work or not’.

“As good as our [car] was all day long, I thought we could make that work on the outside, I just needed to clear him. When we got to Turn 2, I was able to do that.”

Gordon was happy to be able to come from 22nd starting position and contend for the win, but disappointed that he couldn’t pull it out in the end.

“I got a perfect restart on that last one, probably jumped [Kahne] a little bit,” he said. “I moved out in front of him and it looked like I’d need to block the inside, so I tried to protect the inside and he blasted up on the outside. He flat out-drove me through [Turn] 1.”

Johnson, who likely would’ve played a role in the outcome if not for his incident at the halfway point, battled back to finish 13th. The Top 10 was completed by Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.