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Harvick Strategizes Way To Pocono Victory

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 28 2020

Kevin Harvick takes a cool drink to celebrate his first ever win at Pocono on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

LONG POND, Pa. – Good race strategy always has been paramount to claiming a race win at Pocono Raceway and Pocono Organics 325 victor Kevin Harvick says nothing has changed even though this year’s doubleheader events are shorter. 

“It’s just how the cautions fall, how the strategies work out,” Harvick said Saturday after securing his third victory this season. Today (Saturday) it worked in our favor. We had a fast car to go along with it.

“I think it’s the same deal tomorrow (Sunday). I think you’ve got to have good restarts. They’re short races and short stages. At some point you have to decide do you want to race for the win, do you want to race for the stage wins. I think today (Saturday) Rodney (Childers, crew chief) definitely showed we were here to try to win a race with the strategy.”

When the 2.5-mile track opened in 1974 its two annual races were each 500 miles. In 2012 they were shortened to 400 miles. This year, instead of having two 400-mile races, Pocono executives decided to conduct a June doubleheader with a 130-lap event on Saturday and a 140-lap race on Sunday. For Sunday’s race, the starting lineup was determined by inverting the top 20 finishers in Saturday’s event. Positions 21-40 will start Sunday’s race in the positions they finished on Saturday. 

“Starting 20th tomorrow (Sunday), it’s going to be tough,” Childers said. “As you saw, even when we were leading the race, we had a hard time passing cars. We’ve got to try to make our car probably a little bit better in traffic, which is hard for us to do for some reason. We can never make our car that great in traffic compared to maybe the (Joe) Gibbs’ guys. We’re able to have good speed if we can ever get the car out front. It’s a fine line of what you do there. (It) seems like every time we hurt our speed, it doesn’t make us better in traffic, either.”

The Stewart-Haas Racing team also had to repair a hole in the nose of Harvick’s Ford following post-race inspection Saturday. 

“Somehow, we’ve got to get that fixed tonight along with doing all of our maintenance stuff and engine stuff,” Childers commented. 

Harvick’s Ford didn’t perform well early in Saturday’s race. He didn’t finish Stage 1 in the top 10 and had to settle for seventh at the second stage’s conclusion.

“We were out of control there at the beginning,” Childers said. “We needed some adjustments to get it back going.”

It was the team’s on-track and pit strategy in the race’s final stage that resulted in Harvick securing his 52nd career victory and his first-ever at Pocono. Harvick executed his part of the plan when the race received the green flag for the final stage. His good restart allowed him to obtain a “huge gap” on the competitors that were on his pit cycle. 

“Several of those cars pitted way before us,” Harvick noted. 

When Harvick pitted for the final time, he received only two new tires and “we were able to take advantage of that and milk it all the way to the end.”

Harvick took the lead for the first time with 17 laps remaining and never relinquished it. 

Runner-up Denny Hamlin was closing on Harvick at the end of the race despite a vibration. He finished less than a second behind the SHR driver.

Aric Almirola, the race’s top lap leader – three times for 61 laps – and Stage 2 winner, placed third.

Pocono’s second Cup race is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Sunday. Prior to that event, the NASCAR truck race postponed from Saturday was slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and the Xfinity race at 12:30 p.m. All three races will be televised on FS1. 

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NASCAR Cup Series Race

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Saturday, June 27, 2020

  1. (9)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 130.
  2. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 130.
  3. (1)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 130.
  4. (36)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 130.
  5. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 130.
  6. (11)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 130.
  7. (18)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 130.
  8. (26)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 130.
  9. (8)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 130.
  10. (24)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 130.
  11. (22)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 130.
  12. (2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 130.
  13. (21)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 130.
  14. (16)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 130.
  15. (13)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 130.
  16. (25)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 130.
  17. (14)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 130.
  18. (7)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 130.
  19. (17)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 130.
  20. (30)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 130.
  21. (12)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 130.
  22. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 129.
  23. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 129.
  24. (20)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 129.
  25. (5)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 129.
  26. (34)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 129.
  27. (10)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 129.
  28. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 128.
  29. (27)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 127.
  30. (15)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 126.
  31. (33)  JJ Yeley, Ford, 125.
  32. (40)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 125.
  33. (31)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 125.
  34. (35)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 125.
  35. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 125.
  36. (6)  Joey Logano, Ford, 124.
  37. (28)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 121.
  38. (19)  Erik Jones, Toyota, Accident, 70.
  39. (39)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Transmission, 36.
  40. (32)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, Accident, 19.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  134.467 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 25 Mins, 1 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .761 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Almirola 1-19;J. Logano 20-30;A. Almirola 31-45;M. Truex Jr. 46-59;D. Hamlin 60-66;A. Almirola 67-93;D. Hamlin 94-96;R. Newman 97-109;M. McDowell 110;C. Buescher 111-113;K. Harvick 114-130.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Aric Almirola 3 times for 61 laps; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 17 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 14 laps; Ryan Newman 1 time for 13 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 11 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 10 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 3 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,10,12,18,9,1,21,2,88,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 10,22,19,12,21,88,4,18,11,9

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 28 2020
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