Denny Hamlin beats Harvick, and the darkness for Pocono win

Jim Utter
Motorsport

Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team used a clever pit strategy to cycle out in front of Harvick during a 51-lap green-run to the finish and easily came away with the victory in Sunday’s rain-delayed Pocono 350.

The rain delayed left open whether the race would run its full 325-mile distance but every lap was completed approximately 10 minutes after official sunset.

Sunday’s race was the second of a unique doubleheader weekend, the first of its kind in the Cup series. In the first race on Saturday, Harvick came out on top with Hamlin finishing as runner-up.

The win is Hamlin’s sixth at Pocono, tying him with Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the most series wins at the track.

Hamlin now has four wins in the 2020 season, the most of any driver, breaking the tie he was in with Harvick following Harvick’s win on Saturday.

"He's just unbelievable. He's done a great job with this race team, building it," Hamlin said of his crew chief, Chris Gabehart, and his winning pit strategy. "This is from work that happens in the shop. This is what beyond what happens on race day. I mean - six (wins) - I can't even put it into words what it means to me.

"I was just hoping for no cautions. I knew we had the car and I just tried to maintain my gap (over Harvick). I didn't want to make any mistakes like I did at Bristol and gave that win away. I just tried to work through traffic as best I could and obviously Chris was paying attention to strategy there and made the right call."

Harvick remained in second, Erik Jones was third, Chase Elliott was fourth and Aric Almirola completed the top-five.

Rounding out the top-10 were Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr.

Read Also:

Chase Briscoe speeds, spins and still wins Pocono Xfinity raceBrandon Jones bests Creed in wild finish to Pocono Truck race

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, some drivers pit but Brad Keselowski remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 90.

With 50 laps remaining, Keselowski continued to lead with Kurt Busch second and Harvick quickly running them both down in third.

Keselowski dropped down pit road on Lap 95 to make a green-flag pit stop, which turned the lead over to Harvick.

With 40 laps to go, several drivers pit under green to have enough fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

On Lap 105, Harvick made his green-flag stop, turning the lead over to Hamlin.

Hamlin made his final stop on Lap 120, turning the lead over to Truex. Harvick, who was among the first to pit, had made his way to fourth. The three drivers ahead of him still required another stop for fuel.

Hamlin had built up such a large lead during the previous green flag run he was actually able to cycle out ahead of Harvick with about a 2.5 second advantage.

With 15 to go, Truex finally made his pit stop, and Hamlin inherited the lead with a 2.4-second lead over Harvick.

Hamlin’s lead over Harvick hovered at about 2.1 seconds with five laps to go in the race.

Stage 2

Keselowski got around Almirola on a restart with one lap remaining in the stage and held him to claim the Stage 2 victory, his third stage win of the 2020 season.

Ryan Newman was third, Truex was fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, drivers decided to pit but Kurt Busch remained on the track.

When the race returned to green on Lap 36, Busch led the way followed by Ryan Blaney, Keselowski and Truex.

Blaney got around Kurt Busch on the inside of Turn 2 to grab the lead for the first time in the race.

Christopher Bell wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 39 to bring out a caution. Bell suffered extensive damage to his No. 95 Toyota, bringing an early end to his race.

Several drivers elected to pit under the caution but Blaney stayed out and remained in the lead on the restart on Lap 45.

Chris Buescher made contact with the outside wall exiting Turn 3 to bring out another caution. Blaney continued to lead on the restart on Lap 51.

Blaney finally made his green-flag pit stop on Lap 58, which allowed Kyle Busch to inherit the lead for the first time in the race. Truex, on the same cycle as Blaney, pit one lap later.

Kyle Busch pit on Lap 59, which turned the lead over to Hamlin.

With 15 laps remaining in the stage, Hamlin held a nearly 4-second lead over Harvick with DiBenedetto in third, more than 8 seconds behind the leader.

On Lap 75, Kyle Busch wrecked off Turn 2 putting the race under caution. Most of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Harvick the first car off pit road. Keselowski, however, stayed out and led the way on the restart on Lap 80.

Ryan Preece wrecked off Turn 2 to once again bring out the caution, with daylight quickly disappearing and the chance the race will be able to reach full distance running out. Almirola had grabbed the lead just before the caution was displayed.

Almirola led the race on the restart with two laps remaining in the stage.

Stage 1

Kurt Busch led all 30 laps on his way to the Stage 1 win over Blaney, that also included a nearly hour-long rain delay.

Bell was third, Harvick fourth and Keselowski completed the top-five.

Kurt Busch grabbed the lead on the start and led the first four laps until caution was displayed for rain. The race was then placed under a red flag for nearly 51 minutes while NASCAR waited to dry the track.

Once the race returned to caution, no cars elected to pit and the race returned to green on Lap 12 with Kurt Busch still leading the way.

On Lap 16, Michael McDowell wrecked in Turn 2 to bring out a caution. He may have had a tire rub from contact with Elliott earlier in the lap.

The race returned to green on Lap 19 with Kurt Busch still out front followed by Blaney and DiBenedetto.

With five laps remaining in the first stage, Kurt Busch continued to maintain a small advantage over Blaney with Buescher close behind in third.

Shortly before the stage break, several cars elected to pit including Stenhouse, Hamlin, Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Bubba Wallace and Almirola.

Read Also:

Harvick tops Hamlin in first of Pocono Cup doubleheader

1

11

United States
United States

 Denny Hamlin

Toyota

140

 

49

2

4

United States
United States

 Kevin Harvick

Ford

140

3.068

11

3

20

United States
United States

 Erik Jones

Toyota

140

16.756

 

4

9

United States
United States

 Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

140

23.298

 

5

10

United States
United States

 Aric Almirola

Ford

140

25.305

4

6

21

United States
United States

 Matt DiBenedetto

Ford

140

25.656

 

7

24

United States
United States

 William Byron

Chevrolet

140

27.621

 

8

14

United States
United States

 Clint Bowyer

Ford

140

28.385

 

9

88

United States
United States

 Alex Bowman

Chevrolet

140

28.388

 

10

19

United States
United States

 Martin Truex Jr.

Toyota

140

28.499

5

11

2

United States
United States

 Brad Keselowski

Ford

140

29.551

13

12

42

United States
United States

 Matt Kenseth

Chevrolet

140

32.658

 

13

1

United States
United States

 Kurt Busch

Chevrolet

140

34.658

35

14

3

United States
United States

 Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

140

45.599

 

15

47

United States
United States

 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Chevrolet

140

47.996

 

16

48

United States
United States

 Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

140

50.622

 

17

41

United States
United States

 Cole Custer

Ford

140

53.460

 

18

6

United States
United States

 Ryan Newman

Ford

139

1 lap

 

19

38

United States
United States

 John Hunter Nemechek

Ford

139

1 lap

 

20

43

United States
United States

 Bubba Wallace

Chevrolet

139

1 lap

 

21

32

United States
United States

 Corey Lajoie

Ford

139

1 lap

 

22

12

United States
United States

 Ryan Blaney

Ford

139

1 lap

21

23

13

United States
United States

 Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

139

1 lap

 

24

22

United States
United States

 Joey Logano

Ford

139

1 lap

 

25

37

United States
United States

 Ryan Preece

Chevrolet

139

1 lap

 

26

96

Mexico
Mexico

 Daniel Suarez

Toyota

139

1 lap

 

27

15

United States
United States

 Brennan Poole

Chevrolet

138

2 laps

 

28

27

United States
United States

 J.J. Yeley

Ford

138

2 laps

 

29

66

United States
United States

 Timmy Hill

Toyota

137

3 laps

 

30

77

Australia
Australia

 James Davison

Chevrolet

136

4 laps

 

31

00

United States
United States

 Quin Houff

Chevrolet

136

4 laps

 

32

53

United States
United States

 Garrett Smithley

Chevrolet

136

4 laps

 

33

51

United States
United States

 Joey Gase

Ford

136

4 laps

 

34

7

United States
United States

 Josh Bilicki

Chevrolet

136

4 laps

 

35

8

United States
United States

 Tyler Reddick

Chevrolet

135

5 laps

 

36

17

United States
United States

 Chris Buescher

Ford

135

5 laps

 

37

78

United States
United States

 B.J. McLeod

Chevrolet

133

7 laps

 

38

18

United States
United States

 Kyle Busch

Toyota

74

66 laps

2

39

95

United States
United States

 Christopher Bell

Toyota

39

101 laps

 

40

34

United States
United States

 Michael McDowell

Ford

15

125 laps

 

What to Read Next