On Sunday afternoon the NASCAR Sprint Cup series headed to the mountains of Pocono, but Mother Nature had other ideas. A shower blew through just as they were take the green flag, NASCAR red flagged the race and within about 90 minutes they were back to racing.
Kyle Busch earned the pole on his 200th start in NASCAR but it was his teammate Denny Hamlin who quickly took the lead up until the competition caution on lap 15.
Busch took the lead off of pit road but it was Kasey Kahne who was running in second and pitted in the first stall that lost the most. Busch’s brother Kurt had to serve a penalty for a loose valve stem just as the field took the green. He would be on the tail end of the lead lap.
Clint Bowyer who started second today after that pit stop on lap 15 Bowyer worked his way to the lead on lap 38 and began to pull away from Busch and the field.
They cycled through green flag stops and Matt Kenseth got caught speeding so he had to do a drive through penalty under green. That put him 26th after running in the top 10 that run.
The next rounds of pit stops were also under green and Bowyer maintained the lead. Once again contenders were caught on pit road. Juan Pablo Montoya and Brad Keselowski both had to serve penalties under green.
The race had been green since the competition caution on lap 15 until lap 96 when caution waved for debris. With 22 cars on the lead lap everyone hit pit road for tires and major adjustments.
The field would take the green just at halfway and with 100 laps to go, Busch would take the lead off pit road.
What we usually see at Pocono is long green flag runs and the cars get strung out. That was no different on Sunday.
Running in the top 10 was Richard Petty Motorsports, A.J. Allmendinger. He had been fighting a stomach bug most of the week. Sunday he was running in the top 10 and battling for the top five just after halfway.
Once again green flag stops happened and Hamlin maintained his lead on that round of stops and teams were looking to make it only one more stop.
On lap 153 a caution waved for debris and that would bring the field back to Hamlin and set up another round of pit stops that would still set up one more stop before the end.
Hamlin won the race off of pit road but Jimmie Johnson would restart right next to him. Pole sitter Busch would be in third, Jeff Burton in fourth and Kevin Harvick in fifth.
On lap 157, Elliott Sadler got into Casey Mears sending Mears into the grass and bringing out the caution. Mears and Sadler were a part of the group that took the wave around and that caution allowed them to come down pit road.
On the restart Busch would lead them to green with teams still needing to stop one more time.
On lap 164, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan made contact and sent McMurray hard into wall. Sending McMurray to the garage and ending his day. This meant the guys up front could pit but the guys who topped off like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya and many others would stay out.
On lap 170, caution waved for debris on the race track with Sam Hornish, Jr. in the lead. It was not the caution that Hornish needed but exactly what Hamlin, Busch and others who pitted on lap 164 needed.
Hornish was able to pull away from the field but Hamlin and Busch were coming especially Hamlin. With 12 laps to Hamlin passed Hornish for the lead and pulled away.
As Hamlin was about to take the white flag, Harvick and Logano made contact sending Logano spinning and bringing out the caution.
This would be setting up a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono. As they were coming back to the finish line Allmendinger tried to block the move on Kasey Kahne, Kahne went into the grass.
Kahne came back up on the track getting hit hard by Mark Martin, Gordon, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose all involved.
The impact of Martin and Biffle sent Kahne in the air and he actually skimmed the trees in the back stretch.
Up front Hamlin took the checkered for his fourth win of the year.
Hamlin has owned Pocono early in his career and has positioned himself as the one to beat in the championship.
The rest of the top 10 were Busch, Stewart, Harvick, Johnson, Ku. Busch, Jeff Burton, Montoya, Bowyer and Allmendinger.
Harvick still leads the championship points over Busch.
Next week the NSCS heads to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday at 1ET on TNT.