By AMANDA VINCENT
The Windows 10 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., came down to fuel mileage on Sunday, and Matt Kenseth was tops among those who had enough fuel to go the distance. He took the checkered flag to claim his second win of the season and the fourth-consecutive win for Joe Gibbs Racing, adding to Kyle Busch’s victories in the three most recent races.
“Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) just told me to just keep saving,” Kenseth said. “We talked about it a little bit before the race and just saved as much as we could. So, again, just need to thank all of my partners and all our sponsors on this car and everybody back at Joe Gibbs Racing. Glad to get one here at Pocono.”
Brad Keselowski finished second, but not before running out of fuel himself, just before the checkered flag.
“I did (run out), right as we were coming to the finish,” Keselowski said. “I thought our fuel mileage was really strong. Joey (Logano, Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate) was in a different situation, leading with someone pressuring him.”
Joey Logano led a race-high 97 laps of the 160-lap race. He attempted to get to the end on the fuel he had by shutting his car off and coasting at certain points of each of the closing laps while the race ran green. It wasn’t enough, though, as he ran out of fuel with a couple of laps remaining. He wound up 20th.
Busch inherited the lead when Logano’s car ran out of fuel, but ran out of fuel, too, with about half a lap remaining. He wound up with a finish of 21st.
Despite the lackluster finish, Busch closed in on the top-30 of the championship points standings and a Chase for the Sprint Cup berth. He left Pocono 13 points behind David Gilliland and Cole Whitt, the two drivers tied for 30th in the standings.
“Was I in before we ran out? We would be celebrating a win and a Chase berth,” Busch said. “We got greedy. I don’t know how greedy, but that’s the position we’re in.”
Martin Truex, the third part of the late-race top-three trio with Logano and Busch, also ran out of fuel and wound up 19th.
Logano was the race leader, with Truex in second and Busch in third when the three headed down pit road on lap 123 for what they planned to be their final pit stops. Busch beat Truex off pit road when Truex slid through his pit stall, resulting in a slow stop.
Busch and Kevin Harvick started the race on the front row, and Harvick inherited the lead by staying out when Busch pitted under yellow on lap 15.
Harvick was able to get out in front of Kurt Busch on the restart, but as soon as he was alone up front, his engine blew, retiring him from the race.
The yellow flag waved eight times, four times within the first 27 laps. The first caution came on lap five and resulted in a red flag for wall repairs when Kasey Kahne made hard contact with the inside pit road retaining wall.
The other four cautions also came in a cluster, but near the midway point of the race between laps 61 and 91.
Logano, Kyle Busch and others pitted just a few laps before the final caution flew on lap 91. After more cars pitted under the yellow flag, Logano and Busch restarted on the front row. Busch lost spots to Hamlin and Truex on the final restart, and Truex got by Hamlin for second as Logano led the way. Busch eventually got by Hamlin to get back up to third by the time the three headed for pit road for their final planned pit stops.
Jimmie Johnson finished sixth, A.J. Allmendinger was seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Tony Stewart was ninth, and Carl Edwards finished 10th.
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