NASCAR Cup leader Harvick ends Pocono drought with victory

Kevin Harvick claimed his first ever Pocono victory in the first of two NASCAR Cup races at the Pennsylvania circuit this weekend.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver started from ninth on the grid but dropped backwards in the first half of the race as the field ran a variety of strategies.

Harvick had relatively fresh tyres in the closing stages of the race and a comfortable lead ahead of Denny Hamlin in second.

He held the gap for a few laps as Hamlin struggled with vibrations, but the Toyota driver had an easier time passing lapped cars and was able to reel Harvick in. He was able to close in to just 0.761s behind of Harvick.

Pole sitter Aric Almirola and Joey Logano dominated the first two stages of the race, opting to pit much later than the rest of the field. Logano took the first stage win ahead of Almirola ahead of Ryan Blaney.

The pair were joined by Martin Truex Jr after the first pit stops cycled through. Truex was one of the earliest pitters, and his alternate strategy had helped him climb up from 11th on the grid.

Almirola took the second stage win ahead of Logano and Truex.

The trio led early in the final stage, but pit stop strategy put them behind Hamlin and Harvick after the final round of pit stops.

Logano’s chance of victory dissolved when his left front tyre punctured in the closing stages of the race, while Truex fell back to sixth with his own vibration issues.

Almirola came home third, ahead of Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch.

The only major incident of the race came on lap 72 of 130 when Tyler Reddick ran into the back of Erik Jones. Both cars were heavily damaged and taken out of the race.

The incident could have an impact on tomorrow’s race and drivers will have to use the same cars in both races.

Any changes to key components will put the driver at the back of the grid.

Clint Bowyer took seventh ahead of Michael McDowell, who briefly led after staying out late in the final stint.

Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher completed the top 10.

Pending any penalties, Ryan Preece is set to start on pole tomorrow. The Chevrolet driver finished 20th, just behind Austin Dillon. The top 20 finishers will be reversed for tomorrow’s grid, putting Preece, Dillon, and Kurt Busch on the front row of the grid.

Race results – 130 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 2h25m01.s
2 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.761s
3 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 15.224s
4 Christopher Bell Leavine Family Racing Toyota 17.163s
5 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 18.944s
6 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 25.152s
7 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 26.072s
8 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 26.841s
9 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 27.465s
10 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Ford 30.071s
11 Matt Kenseth Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 31.312s
12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 31.726s
13 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Ford 32.713s
14 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 32.897s
15 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 33.539s
16 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 40.283s
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 40.578s
18 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 41.094s
19 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 41.140s
20 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 41.784s
21 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 48.122s
22 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
23 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 1 Lap
24 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports Ford 1 Lap
25 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
26 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
27 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
28 Daniel Suarez Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 2 Laps
29 Brennan Poole Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 3 Laps
30 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 4 Laps
31 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Ford 5 Laps
32 Josh Bilicki Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 5 Laps
33 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 5 Laps
34 James Davison Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 5 Laps
35 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota 5 Laps
36 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 6 Laps
37 Joey Gase Petty Ware Racing Ford 9 Laps
38 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Accident
39 B.J. McLeod BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet Transmission
40 Quin Houff StarCom Racing Chevrolet Accident

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