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Kenseth Wins Pocono Battle Of The Fuel-Starved

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2015
Matt Kenseth proved to be a master of saving fuel in winning at Pocono on Sunday.  (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

Matt Kenseth proved to be a master of saving fuel in winning at Pocono on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

Matt Kenseth blew past car after car that were slowing from empty fuel cells on the final lap of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway and went on to win his second race of the season.

sprint-logo-08The victory was Kenseth’s second of the season, first at Pocono and allowed him to clinch a berth in the 10-race, 16-driver Chase playoffs.

“Glad to get one here at Pocono,” Kenseth, who also was in fuel trouble in the late going, said.

“I never thought I would ever win at Pocono and never thought I would win a fuel mileage race and we did both today.”

One of the fuel-starved cars which Kenseth passed on the final lap was that of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who was going for his fourth straight victory.

Busch had taken the lead shortly before running out of fuel and who, had he not run out of fuel, would have moved into the top 30 in points – something
NASCAR mandated he do to make the Chase in light of missing the first 11 races of the season with broken bones in his legs.

“We got greedy” for the victory,” Busch said. “We went for broke today and came up a little bit short. Can’t fault the team.”

Busch finished 21st.

“I didn’t know we were that close,” Busch said of his fuel situation. “Normally when we’re close, or that close, I get harped on pretty hard to save fuel. He (crew chief Adam Stevens) was just telling me save, to not put too much pressure on the car and everything else and yada yada. And that’s a bummer.”

Busch will head to next weekend’s race at the Watkins Glen road course 13 points out of 30th place and with five races no remain until the start of the Chase.

Joey Logano had the lead ahead of Busch but with three laps to go, he ran out of fuel at the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle.

Also running out of fuel was front runner Martin Truex Jr. at the end of the race.

“It seems that I never come out ahead on these fuel mileage races,” the Furniture Row Racing driver said. “We thought we were going to be ok. I am sure other teams who ran out (of fuel) felt the same way. Yeah, it’s disappointing but what I am going to take away from this race is how our Furniture Row guys kept on making our Chevrolet better and better during the weekend. We were a contender today and in the big picture that’s the most important point for our team as we head into the Chase. We were rolling; we just needed a little more fuel to make it an even better weekend.”

While Kenseth was able save fuel, he said it wasn’t easy.

“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “I really didn’t think the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was going to make it but I still really wanted to be in front of him. Once I got in front of him I started saving as much as I could. I figured we had a little bit more than Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) was letting on. I saved a lot and I was worried about the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and they said he was out so then I just saved as much as I could. I saw the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) drop and I was like, ‘Well, the 18 is going to get another one.’ Then, they said he was out off the tunnel. So, it’s really, really hard not to go as fast as you can those last few laps. We had a really fast car today, I just had real bad restarts. The thing was a bullet all day so I don’t care how we got here, we’re here.”

Finishing second was Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski.

Jeff Gordon finished third. It was a welcome result for the four-time champion who is retiring from full-time driving at the end of the season and who has struggled in 2015.

“This team fought through a lot,” Gordon said. “We’ve been fighting hard. We just haven’t been getting the results. Today they stuck with a strategy and it played out. It wasn’t looking good at times, but boy, it sure looked good when we crossed the finish line and got the checkered flag.”

Right behind Gordon was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who survived a late speeding penalty to get his fourth-place finish.

“I really enjoyed the power we had today,” Earnhardt said. “We had great motors. I could tell down the straightaway I was as good as anybody, or better. We’ve just got to work harder. Our car wasn’t very good all weekend in the corner. We had a lot of balance issues we never really cured. That held us up. We weren’t as good as we were here earlier this year. But still, it was a Top 10, Top 5 car, but just barely a Top 5 car. I thought we had a good enough car to win here when we came here earlier in the summer, but we lost a little balance.”

It wasn’t just fuel shortages that sidelined top drivers Sunday.

Kevin Harvick took a small hit in the point standings when he left the race early with a blown engine on Lap 20.

“Yeah,” the defending series champion said, “coming around Turn 2 I knew some issues but didn’t realize they were going to be that big. But, all in all, I’m just really proud of my team. The car was fast. You’ll have days like this.”

Also out early was Kasey Kahne. His exit was forced by a scary wreck in which his car Clipped the outside wall in Turn 3 and shot across the track into pit lane. His Hendrick Motorsports Chevy ended up ramming the pit wall. The wall was severely damaged and a red flag was called as crews fixed the wall.

“I just got loose,” Kahne, who has yet to win a race and who could be in Chase trouble (started the day 14th in points), said.  “It was late exit and a lot later than I would have expected.   That’s why I ended up so far down pit road and that was crazy because I have never ended up there.  Yeah, I just got loose and basically spun and that was it.  I tried saving it to try and avoid running into the wall, pit wall then ended up hitting the one on the left and not the one on the right.  It’s been a rough last month for our Aquafina team.  I am not sure why that happened and what happened so quickly there.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Windows 10 400

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Sunday, August 02, 2015

  1. (7) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 160, $233601.
  2. (9) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160, $205166.
  3. (10) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 160, $181686.
  4. (15) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 160, $134375.
  5. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 160, $139908.
  6. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 160, $144851.
  7. (22) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 160, $125323.
  8. (19) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 160, $124073.
  9. (5) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 160, $116279.
  10. (8) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 160, $87915.
  11. (18) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 160, $94440.
  12. (27) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 160, $112908.
  13. (4) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160, $120611.
  14. (29) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 160, $82250.
  15. (17) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 160, $111541.
  16. (20) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 160, $89125.
  17. (24) David Ragan, Toyota, 160, $107539.
  18. (21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160, $116956.
  19. (13) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 160, $106015.
  20. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 160, $128853.
  21. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 159, $140811.
  22. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 159, $93645.
  23. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 159, $110670.
  24. (31) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 159, $102528.
  25. (28) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 159, $92203.
  26. (39) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 159, $77895.
  27. (33) Cole Whitt, Ford, 159, $88853.
  28. (26) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 159, $92092.
  29. (36) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 159, $75895.
  30. (35) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 159, $75745.
  31. (32) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 158, $74095.
  32. (40) Travis Kvapil(i), Ford, 158, $73920.
  33. (37) David Gilliland, Ford, 158, $81720.
  34. (41) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 157, $73520.
  35. (38) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 157, $73370.
  36. (43) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 156, $73120.
  37. (6) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 150, $90931.
  38. (42) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 126, $68102.
  39. (30) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 123, $90375.
  40. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Overheating, 91, $104605.
  41. (34) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 27, $64030.
  42. (2) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Engine, 20, $104855.
  43. (16) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 3, $66530.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  132.159 mph.

Time of Race:  03 Hrs, 01 Mins, 36 Secs. Margin of Victory:  9.012 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 32 laps.

Lead Changes:  18 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 1-16; K. Harvick 17-19; Kurt Busch 20-32; M. Truex Jr. 33-38; J. Logano 39-51; Kyle Busch 52; D. Hamlin 53-54; B. Keselowski 55-57; D. Patrick 58-62; J. Logano 63-87; M. Kenseth 88; K. Larson 89-93; J. Logano 94-123; D. Ragan 124; G. Biffle 125-126; J. Gordon 127-128; J. Logano 129-157; Kyle Busch 158-159; M. Kenseth 160;.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Logano 4 times for 97 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 19 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 13 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 6 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 5 laps; D. Patrick 1 time for 5 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 3 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 3 laps; M. Kenseth 2 times for 2 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; G. Biffle 1 time for 2 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 2 laps; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 780; J. Logano – 734; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 717; J. Johnson – 713; M. Truex Jr. – 694; B. Keselowski – 681; M. Kenseth – 662; J. Mcmurray – 631; Kurt Busch – 620; J. Gordon – 617; D. Hamlin – 614; P. Menard – 591; R. Newman – 584; C. Bowyer – 574; K. Kahne – 559; C. Edwards – 553.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2015
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