Carl Edwards Stretches It on Fuel to Win at Pocono
The Sprint Cup Series headed to Pocono this weekend for the Pennsylvania 500. Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position with Mark Martin alongside in the second position. This is the second straight week that Johnson and Martin have started from the front row.
Johnson may have started from the pole position, but Martin wasted no time as he took the lead away from Johnson on the start.
The fireworks started early too, with two cautions inside the first 10 laps of the race. One caution was for an incident on lap one involving Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek, and the other was for a spin by Kurt Busch on lap eight.
Martin continued to lead the race when NASCAR brought out a competition caution on lap 21. The caution was due to practice being rained out Saturday. Teams got a chance to check their tire wear and make any other adjustments needed.
The leaders would all come to pit road to take advantage of this caution, with Johnson edging out everyone else off pit road with a two-tire stop.
Johnson led for a while until Martin passed him on lap 36 to regain the top spot. Martin was the leader as a green flag pit stop began around lap 52. He came into the pits for service on lap 54, which allowed Carl Edwards to stay out and lead a lap before making his pit stop.
After the pit stops cycled through, Martin was back on top. He continued to lead when the fourth caution flag of the day came out for debris on lap 66. The leaders would all come down pit road, with Johnson regaining the lead.
Johnson would once again lead a good portion of the race before being passed by Edwards on lap 111. Edwards led the race as the second round of green flag stops began around lap 116.
He would pit on lap 118, which handed the lead to Matt Kenseth who led a lap before making his pit stop. After pit stops cycled through on lap 121, Edwards was once again at the head of the field.
Shortly after pit stops were completed, the caution flag waved on lap 127 for rain. It was a light rain though, and many drivers felt that the race would keep going and so many took advantage by coming down pit road for tires and fuel.
Some drivers felt that the race would end due to rain and so they stayed out under the caution to gain track position.
The race would eventually resume and the drivers who stayed out under the caution weren’t feeling too good about their strategy. Kasey Kahne restarted as the leader of the race with 18 other drivers in the same position as he was behind him. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was the first driver off pit road and he restarted in the 20th position.
Kahne would remain the leader of the race until green flag pit stops began around lap 154. Kahne made his stop along with Denny Hamlin and Martin on lap 155. This allowed Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Edwards, Johnson, David Ragan, and Jamie McMurray a chance to lead the race before pit stops cycled through with Kahne retaking the lead.
The race would continue to stay green which brought about another round of green flag stops for some drivers. Kahne would pit on lap 185 for two-tires and fuel, handing the lead over to Martin.
The lead would soon be handed over to Edwards though, as Martin made a stop on lap 187 for two-tire and fuel.
Edwards stayed out because he believed he could stretch it on fuel and make it to the end without stopping. Unfortunately, some drivers ran out of gas and had to come down pit road for a splash and go. Some, including points leader Kyle Busch, ran out of gas and this prevented them from earning a good finish.
Edwards, on the other hand, did not have to stop and he went on to victory for the fourth time this season. Other drivers including Earnhardt Jr., Johnson, and Jeff Gordon, all coasted across the finish line before running completely out of gas.
Once again, Pocono proved to be a fuel mileage race with many twists and turns throughout. Edwards’ team made the right calls all day long and he really earned this victory.
The top 10 finishers were Edwards, Tony Stewart, Johnson, Harvick, Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Kahne, Martin, McMurray, and Gordon.
Some notable finishes were Kenseth in 11th, Earnhardt in 12th, Biffle in 13th, Jeff Burton in 21st, Hamlin in 23rd, and Kyle Busch in 35th position.
The top 12 in points are now Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Edwards, Johnson, Burton, Gordon, Kahne, Biffle, Stewart, Hamlin, Harvick, and Bowyer. Kenseth is currently the odd man out, sitting in the 13th position.
Pocono is now in the history books and we can all look forward to a great weekend of racing action on the road-course at Watkins Glen.
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