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NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick wins first race of Pocono doubleheader

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA – JUNE 27: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Head for the Mountains Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute at Pocono Raceway on June 27, 2020 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After four second-place finishes at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., in a NASCAR Cup Series career that began in 2001, Kevin Harvick finally notched his first win at the triangle-shaped, two-and-a-half mile track Saturday in the Pocono Organics 325. The win was Harvick’s third of the 2020 season matching Denny Hamlin’s tally for most wins, so far, this year.

“I just gotta thank everyone on this Busch Beer Ford Mustang,” Harvick said. “We weren’t where we needed to be to start the race and lost a bunch of track position, but we came back and made some great strategy calls to get in clean air and get out front and make some good laps. It is great to finally check Pocono off the list. Everybody at Stewart-Haas racing has done such a great job with all our cars over the last several years. I guess it  takes special paint schemes to get to victory lane. I want to say hi to my family. I know (son) Keelan raced all day and (wife) DeLana and (daughter) Piper and everybody at home. I am really proud of everybody, and I am just glad it didn’t rain all day.”

The start of the race was delayed by rain, pushing the initial green flag from approximately 3:30 p.m. ET to 4:50 p.m.

Hamlin, a five-time winner at Pocono, just happened to be the driver Harvick held off for his milestone Pocono win. Hamlin took runner-up honors, about three-quarters of a second behind the winner.

Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Aric Almirola, finished a distant third after leading a race-high 61 of the 130 laps that made up the race.

Almirola had dominated the race until giving up the lead to pit during a final cycle of green-flag pit stops with 36 laps remaining. Harvick, who was running second to his teammate ahead of the pit stops, was ahead of Almirola when the cycle finally completed with 17 laps remaining. Hamlin also was ahead of Almirola after final stops.

The cycle of stops in the final 40 laps was lengthy because of varying pit strategies throughout the race to that point.

Almirola started on the pole and led the first 19 laps before Joey Logano took the lead on a lap 20 restart. Logano claimed a stage win in the short 25-lap opening stage. Throughout most of the opening stage, Almirola, Logano and Logano’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney ran in the top-three positions. Despite not pitting during a lap-12 competition caution and a lap-17 caution for a Quin Houff spin, the trio of drivers continued to stay out after the first stage.

After staying out during the first few cautions, Almirola, Logano and Blaney pitted during green around lap 40. Almirola, who retook the lead from Logano on a lap-31 restart, gave up the lead to pit on lap 46. He, Logano and Blaney looked to be on a strategy of running the entire race distance with only two pit stops. Blaney would scrap that plan with a pit stop during the caution following the second stage that ended on lap 77.

After Almirola, Logano and Blaney made their initial stops, the Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin and Kyle Busch inherited the top-three positions in the running order after pitting for the first time earlier in the race.

The frontrunners pitted during a caution for a J.J. Yeley tire problem on lap 66, turning the top-three positions in the running order back over to Almirola, Logano and Blaney. Almirola continued up front to win the second stage and remain up front until his final stop.

Harvick took second from Logano soon after the restart that followed the second stage. Logano wound up having to make an unscheduled extra pit stop with seven laps remaining because of a flat left-front tire.

Christopher Bell finished fourth, and Busch rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Truex, Clint Bowyer, Michael McDowell, Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway:

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Posted by on June 28, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR,Uncategorized. 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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