A Top-10 finish for Jeff Gordon, combined with a mid-pack result for Matt Kenseth, has put the Hendrick Motorsports driver back to the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
Gordon finished eighth today in the Pocono 400 despite often losing out on restarts and in the track position battle.
“When guys got out of sequence there, it just really got our track position off,” he said. “Once we lost that track position, it was so hard to regain it.
“…Ultimately, the restarts – even when I got a good one, something would happen somebody would about wreck in front of me or dive in there four-wide and just cause a mess. We just couldn’t come out on the good end of that side of it. That is what you have got to do to be good.”
Gordon wasn’t a factor at the end, but he was still better off than previous points leader Matt Kenseth.
Around Lap 40 in today’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway, Kenseth made contact with Jamie McMurray on the front-stretch. The run-in left Kenseth with a major hole that covered almost the entire nose of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
JGR repaired as much of the damage as they could, and Kenseth rose back into the Top 5 while the various fuel strategies played out. But he ultimately finished in 25th position.
What was a slim, two-point lead for the winless Kenseth is now a 16-point lead for Gordon (one win at Kansas) as the series shifts to Michigan International Speedway next weekend.
Kenseth and Kyle Larson (who finished fifth today) remain the only two drivers in the Top 10 of the Sprint Cup standings without a win so far this season.
As for today’s winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., he now moves up to third in the championship at 22 points behind HMS amigo Gordon. Jimmie Johnson’s sixth-place finish at Pocono allows him to keep fourth in the standings (-23 points), and Brad Keselowski vaults from eighth to fifth (-50 points) after his runner-up.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS, TOP 16
After Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway
1. Jeff Gordon (one win), 498 points
2. Matt Kenseth, 482
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two wins), 476
4. Jimmie Johnson (two wins), 475
5. Brad Keselowski (one win), 448
6. Kyle Busch (one win), 443
7. Carl Edwards (one win), 441
8. Denny Hamlin (one win), 420
9. Joey Logano (two wins), 418
10. Kyle Larson, 417
11. Ryan Newman, 411
12. Kevin Harvick (two wins), 403
13. Brian Vickers, 392
14. Greg Biffle, 385
15. Austin Dillon, 385
16. Clint Bowyer, 383