Wednesday, Feb 01

MENCS Recap: The Pocono Strategy

Denny Hamlin celebrates his Gander RV 400 victory at Pocono Raceway Denny Hamlin celebrates his Gander RV 400 victory at Pocono Raceway Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

The MENCS Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway started with twelve drivers dropping to the back of the 38 car field. Kevin Harvick started on the pole with Joey Logano beside him and a bunch of hungry Toyotas right behind.

Brad keselowski got his car into the wall on lap five and had to pit for his team to pull out the fenders. He was able to stay on the lead lap just in front of the leaders.

The strategy started early as Alex Bowman was the first to pit on lap 14. A few laps later other teams began to participate in the racing strategy as well.

The remainder of the field came into the pits for service on lap 40, and it was Kyle Busch out front where he would stay for the next ten laps to win stage 1. Kyle Larson had an impressive drive from 23rd to fifth.

Harvick stayed out during the stage break and went back to the lead for the restart. Seven other cars stayed out as well. The strategies continued to mix as every driver was on their own agenda.

On lap 70 Kyle Busch was able to power past Harvick for the lead as they both continued to outpace the rest of their competitors. A few laps later Harvick was on pit road.

On Lap 82 Chase Elliot blew a tire and pounded the outside wall in turn three, ending his day.

The race would continue for another ten laps before the caution was out again, this time for rain. Fortunately the rain wouldn’t last long, and the field was back to green after only a few caution laps.

With only two laps remaining in stage two Kyle Busch had to pit for gas, but Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez made contact in turn two before Blaney lost control of his car with a flat tire in turn three. The strange turn of events left Jimmie Johnson out front for his second career stage win.

Harvick lead the field back to the green, as the top 15 cars stayed out. Hamlin quickly charged to the lead and was in control from there.

The caution would fly again on lap 114 for Ryan Preece who lost control and slammed the wall in turn 1 with a flat right rear tire. Every car except Busch pitted under caution setting up for a classic fuel mileage race. The restart saw all four JGR cars out front.

Busch brought his Toyota in for service leaving his teammates out front to duel for the lead, and it was Hamlin who came out on top after besting Erik Jones on lap 144.

Josh Belicki brought out the caution with ten laps to go. The top 15 cars stayed out with most assuming they could make it to the end on fuel.

Before the field could turn another lap cars were wrecking down the back stretch putting the race into overtime and fuel mileage into question, but the cars out front stayed out.

After one last crazy restart it was Denny Hamlin holding on for his 5th Pocono Victory and third of the season.

Top Five: Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Kyle Larson

The MENCS will be turning left and right next week August 4th at 3:00PM for the Go Bowling At The Glen.

Thomas Latzkowski

Originally from central New York, I was first introduced to NASCAR through my uncle. I quickly developed an interest in the sport that has only grown over the last 20 years. I have a bachelors degree in agriculture business from SUNY Cobleskill, and currently work as an operations manager in New Jersey. In 2017 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail, and since have been focused on pursuing my passions in life such as motorsports.

 

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