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NASCAR Cup: Denny Hamlin notches sixth Pocono win

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JUNE 28: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway on June 28, 2020 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After finishing second to Kevin Harvick at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., on Saturday, Denny Hamlin bettered Harvick in the Pocono 350 on Sunday in the second race of a NASCAR Cup Series weekend doubleheader at the race track. Hamlin’s win Sunday was the driver’s fourth win of the 2020 season, most of any driver, and the sixth of his career at Pocono, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for most wins, all-time at the track.

“He’s (crew chief Chris Gabehart) just unbelievable,” Hamlin said. “He’s done a great job with this race team. This is work that happens in the shop; this is way beyond what happens on race day. Can’t say enough for FedEx, Toyota, Coca-Cola, the Jordan Brand. I mean six (wins at Pocono). I can’t even put it into words how much it means to me.”

Hamlin also led a race-high 49 of the 140 laps that made up the race.

In the Sunday role reversal, Harvick finished second in Sunday’s race.

Joe Gibbs Racing notched two top-three finishes Sunday, with Hamlin’s JGR teammate Erik Jones in third. Chase Elliott finished fourth. Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five.

When race leader Brad Keselowski began a final cycle of green-flag pit stops on lap 95, Hamlin inherited the lead by staying out longer. After gaining ground on the race track, Hamlin finally made his final stop with 19 laps remaining. Martin Truex Jr. stayed out even longer, pitting about four laps after Hamlin. But after Truex ended the cycle with his stop, Hamlin cycled back to the lead over Harvick.

The start of the Pocono 350 was delayed about half an hour by lighting. After the completion of six laps, three under green, rain further delayed the race by nearly another hour. When the race finally got going, Kurt Busch dominated early, leading the first 35 laps, including a stage-one win on lap 30.

Ryan Preece was the official pole sitter after an inversion of the top-20 of the finishing order of Saturday’s race. But an engine change resulted in Preece being required to drop to the back for the initial green flag, moving Busch up to the front row to start alongside Austin Dillon.

Dillon lost positions at the start of the race, and Ryan Blaney moved into second. Blaney ran second to Busch until taking the lead from him on lap 36.

After pit stops for some, including Busch, during a lap-39 caution, Blaney had the Joe Gibbs racing duo of Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch behind him in second and third. Hamlin soon joined his JGR teammates just behind Blaney.

Blaney, then, gave up the lead to pit on lap 57. Truex and Kyle Busch also pitted, turning the lead over to Hamlin, with Harvick 5.2 seconds behind him in second.

Before making his way back toward the front after pitting, Kyle Busch crashed after contact with Blaney as they ran 22nd and 23rd on lap 76.

“I don’t know,” Busch said. “The guys did an amazing job from yesterday to today. I guess it proves that if you get a little practice time in and we are going to be a force to be reckoned with, so hopefully, life gets back to normal eventually, but we are in 2020, so it doesn’t surprise me getting crashed out of the lead. The M&Ms Camry was pretty fast today. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a great job. It’s just very frustrating and unfortunate. I know what happened, but it doesn’t make any sense to talk about it. It will just come across in a bad way.”

Brad Keselowski won the second stage that ended at lap 85. He was the race leader for the restart after Busch’s crash after staying out during the caution. Almirola was second. Almirola took the lead on the restart, but after another caution, Keselowski retook the lead during a two-lap, green-flag run to end the stage.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman and Truex.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway:

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Posted by on June 29, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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