Several drivers who remain winless and need at least one win to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup failed to do so once again due to a big 13-car wreck in the second half of Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Still looking for their first Chase-qualifying win were Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth, all who were involved in the wreck and saw their race day end early.
The baker’s dozen wreck occurred on Lap 118, just one lap after the track went back to green flag conditions following a caution brought out by Jimmie Johnson’s solo crash on Lap 112.
Based upon TV replays, it appeared Denny Hamlin got loose, and a domino-effect situation followed.
One of the more notable end results of the wreck was Stewart’s car wound up on the hood of Paul Menard’s car.
Quipped Stewart, “We ended up on top of Paul Menard’s hood, but it wasn’t where we wanted to end up by any means.”
Added Menard, “There was just nowhere to go.”
Other drivers involved in the wreck were Vickers, Kenseth, Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Michael Annett, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Martin Truex Jr.
“I was just following Denny, he went to the middle and I stayed on the bottom and got behind Brian,” Kenseth said. “I went up to go up to the corner and saw the 11 car sideways, the 55 tried to miss him and we all got collected. I’m good (uninjured), just crabby.”
Added Vickers, “One thing led to another and I wound up in the wall.”
Ironically, Hamlin only skimmed the outside wall with the rear of his car and was able to continue, but that couldn’t be said about so many others who were trailing him.
Later in the race, Allmendinger was able to get back on track after repairs were made, but smacked the wall on Lap 140, ending his day.
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Motor and tire issues affected several drivers in Sunday’s race.
Kyle Busch’s day ended early when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota suffered apparent engine failure on Lap 23. Busch radioed in that there was smoke in the cockpit and then theorized it might be a broken piston in the motor. After pitting, his team quickly pushed his car back to the garage to begin repairs.
Tire issues caused problems for several drivers early on.
Jimmie Johnson suffered a cut tire in the opening laps and had to pit for a new set of rubber. To add insult to injury, Johnson was penalized for pitting too early when a caution was called for debris on the racetrack.
Another driver who suffered tire issues early on was Danica Patrick. Patrick was running 10th on Lap 16 when a right side tire went out, forcing her into the outside retaining wall. The damage was minimal, but it still required a lengthy pit stop, causing her to lose numerous spots on-track.
Later in the race, Johnson was running fifth on Lap 112 when he suffered another tire failure that sent his Hendrick Motorsports car into the Turn 2 wall, causing extensive damage. Unable to steer due to the damage, Johnson took the car to the garage for repairs, but his crew was unable to repair the damage in time to get him back on the racetrack.
“On that one, I’m clueless,” Johnson told ESPN when asked about what happened. “It didn’t act like a tire went down, so I’m not exactly sure if it did. Normally, when they go down that quickly, they explode, but there was no explosion and the tire did not come apart. It just went straight. … It wasn’t the best weekend, but still gave ourselves a chance for a win or top-five. We just came up a little short.”
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Jeff Gordon remains the leader in the Sprint Cup points standings, but opened up a rather substantial lead on drivers from third through 10th.
Gordon leads Pocono race-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 17 points. But then things really open up dramatically.
Brad Keselowski remains in third place, but finds himself a distant 70 points behind Gordon.
Matt Kenseth remained in fourth place, 89 points back.
Ryan Newman was one of three drivers that made upward movement in the top 10 after Pocono, jumping from seventh to fifth place, 115 points behind Gordon.
Jimmie Johnson, who had a rough day at Pocono, dropped from fifth into a tie for sixth with Joey Logano, both drivers 124 points behind Gordon.
Carl Edwards remained in eighth place, 139 points back, followed by Clint Bowyer in ninth, 140 points behind Gordon.
And rounding out the top 10 was Kyle Busch, whose motor failure at Pocono caused him to drop four places in the standings, from sixth to 10th. He’s also 146 points behind Gordon now.
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