Tony Stewart currently leads a 1-2-3 run for Stewart-Haas Racing at the halfway point of today’s Pocono 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway.
Stewart, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick all jumped leader Brad Keselowski off a restart at Lap 76 before a caution came out for a Dave Blaney spin at Lap 80.
Keselowski leaped to the front on the opening lap after starting third behind the front row of Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. However, Keselowski made contact with Hamlin on the way to P1, which made the Joe Gibbs Racing driver unhappy.
While Hamlin fumed, Keselowski held the lead through the first round of pit stops that began at Lap 25. After the cycle ended, the first caution of the day on Lap 31 came out – not for a garbage bag that was spotted floating around the frontstretch in the opening laps, but for a small grass fire on the inside of Turn 3.
The field took the restart at Lap 36 with Keselowski able to keep the lead and Kevin Harvick passing Jeff Gordon for second place.
Four laps later, Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth sustained serious front-end damage after making contact with Jamie McMurray. After falling to the rear of the field, Keselowski lapped him shortly after Lap 50.
Harvick began the second cycle of pit stops with a stop on Lap 56 from second place, while Keselowski came in for service at Lap 57 along with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But a piece of debris in Turn 3 brought out the caution at Lap 60 in the middle of those stops (Kyle Busch earned the free pass). Some drivers – including Hamlin and Carl Edwards – had not yet pitted under green and did so during the yellow.
Meanwhile, Kenseth’s JGR team went to work trying to fix his wounded Toyota:
Keselowski managed to hold off a charge from Harvick on the Lap 65 restart, and the two built up a gap between themselves and third-place Kurt Busch. That gap was erased on Lap 71 when J.J. Yeley had something fall from the back of his car, bringing out the caution again.
That brought a solid amount of the field to the pits, led by Jimmie Johnson. Unfortunately for him, he made contact with Marcos Ambrose while coming out from his two-tire stop and was spun around.
Johnson, who had worked his way up into the Top 5, took right-front damage in the incident and had to back into his pit stall for repairs.
The front four – Keselowski, Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart – stayed out and on the restart at Lap 76, Keselowski was swallowed up by the three Stewart-Haas Racing cars.