Kasey Kahne took his second Sprint Cup victory of the season, narrowly beating team-mate Jeff Gordon at Pocono.
Kahne looked to have thrown the race away when he made a mess of a restart with eight laps to go, allowing Gordon, who turned 42 on the day of the race, to pull away and look like he was going to take victory. However, another caution flag just four laps later allowed Kahne to make amends for his earlier mistake, blasting around the outside of Gordon and taking the win.
“I knew Jeff was going to be tough,” said Kahne. “I felt like he was beating me on restarts a little bit. He was on my left rear off of turn one, and was able to kind of side draft me down the backstretch and just stayed under me. He finally got by off turn three. So at that point, I just tried to stay with him. We had five laps, so I thought I may get another opportunity to get by, but it was tough. It seemed like with him in clean air, it was going to take more than five laps. It was going to take more like ten laps.
“Then the caution came out, and on that caution, I just knew it was two laps to go, it’s whoever gets the lead, whoever gets clear is going to win the race. I had some help from Kurt Busch, pushed me down the front stretch, and I just drove into one as far as I felt I could, and I got some speed and momentum down the back and beat Jeff to turn two. That was kind of the race at that point. Once I cleared him getting into two, from there it was just don’t make a mistake and try to run the quick lap on that last one.”
Gordon ended the race in second, followed by Busch, Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
“It’s funny how your emotions go up and down in this sport. Before the race, if you had told me I could finish second, that would have been a great birthday gift,” said Gordon. “But when you’re leading and you take the lead from Kasey the way we did, I thought we had him.”
It was a successful weekend for Hendrick Motorsports, not only having three cars in the top five (Kahne, Gordon and Earnhardt, Jr.) but having a new track record after Jimmie Johnson dominated qualifying. It was the same story at the start of the race, with many believing it would be another win for the #48 driver. However, 78 laps in to the race, having led 43 of them, Johnson’s right-front tyre blew, forcing him in to the wall and in to the pits for repairs.
The team discovered that Johnson’s impact had in fact knocked a spark plug wire loose, meaning he was running on seven cylinders. Despite the issue, Johnson still managed to end the race in 13th in a real damage limitation mission.
Johnson’s incident was one of many in an action-packed race, that saw Rickie Stenhouse, Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya bring out the opening caution on the very first lap of the afternoon. Denny Hamlin then joined in, crashing the #11 out on Lap 14 and finishing last, his sixth result of 30th or worse this season.
The biggest incident of the day occurred on lap 110 when Danica Patrick got loose and made contact with Travis Kvapil, instigating a four-car pile up involving Jeff Burton and Paul Menard. Finally, Matt Kenseth, who was caught up in Montoya and Stenhouse’s first lap incident, brought out the final caution of the day four laps from time when he lost control and spun the #20.