Pocono NASCAR: Cup Series leader Harvick ends Pocono drought

Kevin Harvick claimed his first ever Pocono victory in the first of two NASCAR Cup races at the 2.5-mile Pennsylvania oval this weekend

Pocono NASCAR: Cup Series leader Harvick ends Pocono drought

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

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

Hamlin struggled with vibrations, but the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver had an easier time passing lapped cars and was able to reel Harvick in, finishing just 0.761s behind.

Pole-sitter Aric Almirola (SHR Ford) and 2018 Cup Series champion Joey Logano (Team Penske Ford) 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 and fellow Penske driver Ryan Blaney.

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

Almirola then 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 stops.

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

Almirola completed a strong drive in third, ahead of Christopher Bell in a career-best fourth for Leavine Family Racing and defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch's JGR Toyota.

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 subsequently retired.

The incident could have an impact on tomorrow's race as drivers will have to use the same cars in both races and 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 as the top 20 finishers will be reversed.

The Chevrolet driver finished 20th, just behind Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch.

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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