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Sunday, June 7
Kahne Wins Pocono 500
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
LONG POND, Pa. (June 8, 2008) -- Polesitter Kasey Kahne recovered from missing lug nuts that dropped him to the back of the field -- and weathered myriad strategic ploys from his rivals -- to win Sunday's Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.
The victory was Kahne's second of the season and the ninth of his career in 158 starts, but it wasn't as easy as Kahne's 3.702-second margin of victory over Brian Vickers might suggest.
After a restart on Lap 182 of the 200-lap event, Kahne passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Lap 183 and Vickers on Lap 185 to take the lead for the final time.
Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Earnhardt and Jeff Burton, who trimmed the series points lead of 43rd-place finisher Kyle Busch to 21 points. Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Mark Martin completed the top 10.
Kahne is riding a wave of momentum that dates to the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. After Kahne failed to qualify for the event, fans voted him in. Kahne made the most of the opportunity and won the race. Eight days later he won his first points race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600.
"The fans gave (momentum) to us in the all-star race when they gave us that boost," Kahne said. "It's done a tremendous amount for our confidence in the last month."
It gave Kahne and his No. 9 Dodge crew enough presence of mind to recover from a snafu in the pits on Lap 58. Crew chief Kenny Francis changed his call from a four-tire to a two-tire pit stop under caution, but the front tire changer didn’t pick up on the change and removed three lug nuts from the left front before Kahne left the pits.
Kahne had to pit again a lap later to replace the lug nuts and fell to 38th in the running order for a restart on Lap 64. With the race's dominant car and excellent subsequent performance in the pits, Kahne worked his way back to sixth by the halfway point. On Lap 116, he passed teammate Elliott Sadler for third.
With both Earnhardt and Vickers on fuel-mileage strategies, Francis kept Kahne on a normal cycle of pit stops and let the strength of the No. 9 car make the difference.
Because of the fuel-mileage ploy, Vickers' tires were 10 laps older than Kahne's at the finish, and Vickers thought that was the critical issue.
"I'm so proud of our guys," said Vickers, who gave Red Bull Racing its best finish in the Cup series. "We needed tires. He (Kahne) had a lot newer tires, and that’s all we needed. We had a great car."
Hamlin, who won both Pocono races from the pole in 2006, had a run on Vickers soon after the final restart but couldn’t make the pass.
"I got to the 83 (Vickers), but as soon as we got there, he moved down into our line, and we couldn't make any headway," Hamlin said.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Qualifying: Friday, June 6 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m.)
Practice: Saturday, June 7 (SPEED at 11 a.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 7 (SPEED at 6:30 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 8 (SPEED at 11:30 a.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, June 8 (TNT at 1:30 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, June 8 (SPEED at 3 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
The Race: Pocono 500
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Track: 2.5-mile triangle
The Distance: 500 miles/200 laps
TV: TNT & TSN, 1:30 p.m. (At)
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Jeff Gordon
2007 Polesitter: Ryan Newman
Pre-Race Schedule: local track time - Friday—Practice, noon-1:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:40 p.m.; Saturday — Practice, 10-10:45 a.m., Final Practice, 11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Kasey Kahne stays focused in the cockpit of his racecar just before making his pole winning lap at Pocono with a speed of 170.219 mph...
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is Kahne’s 15th pole in 158 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is Kahne’s first pole of the season. His previous best start was second at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Kahne now has eight top-10 starts this season.
- This is Kahne’s second pole and sixth top-10 start at Pocono Raceway. His previous pole came in June of 2004, which was a track qualifying record of 172.533 mph.
- Jimmie Johnson (second) notched his 11th top-10 start of 2008 and 10th at Pocono.
- Mark Martin (third) notched his sixth top-10 start of 2008 and 29th at Pocono.
- Regan Smith (fourth) was the fastest-qualifying rookie.
- Joe Nemechek (fifth) was the fastest of those drivers required to make the field on time.
- J.J. Yeley was the only driver that failed to qualify.
- Expect Gordon In The Mix At Pocono...While the first four months of the 2007 and 2008 season may be known The Tale Of Two Starts for Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Sunday’s Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway could find the four-time series champion in the same place — Victory Lane.
A year ago, Gordon arrived at Pocono having led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings for nine consecutive weeks. He departed with his fourth victory of 2007, still firmly out front.
This year has been anything except a continuation.
Gordon began 2008 with a 39th-place finish in the Daytona 500 and has yet to win, clawing through the standings toward Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility (the top 12 in series points).
But recent performances may portend big things.
Gordon has jumped from 14th to sixth in the last four weeks. He returns to Pocono as the defending race champion and with momentum after last week’s fifth-place finish at Dover International Speedway.
Gordon has four wins, two poles, 15 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes in 30 career starts at Pocono. He also ranks third in NASCAR Loop Data’s pre-race Driver Rating for Pocono (97.5) behind Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota) at 133.1 and Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) at 103.2.
- Kahne Clings to 12th, Surging Ragan and Kenseth Not Far Behind...A strenuous summer schedule stands between NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and the Sept. 6 cut-off event for Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup eligibility, but it’s never too early to tally points.
Three drivers in particular cling to momentum as the series heads for Sunday’s Pocono 500, the season’s 14th event (the cut-off race at Richmond International Raceway is the 26th).
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) currently is 12th, in the final Chase-eligible spot. He leads 13th-place David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford) by only eight points.
Former series champion Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) remains 16th for a second consecutive week, but trails 15th-place Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) by only 12 points, as opposed to 27 last week.
Kenseth has climbed from 22nd to 16th in three weeks, helped by three consecutive top-10 finishes (the latest, a fourth, last Sunday at Dover). Attempting to rebound from a difficult start, he’s one of only two drivers to compete in every Chase since the format’s 2004 inception.
He trails the 12th-place Kahne by 95 points.
Ragan, a second-year driver, broke into the top 12 for the first time three weeks ago, following the season’s 11th event, at Darlington Raceway. He’s fallen back a spot since, but remains on Kahne’s trail. Kahne, who spent the season’s first eight weeks in the top 12 before falling out during the month of May, re-entered the top 12 after his May 25 victory in the Coca-Cola 600.
- The Top 35: Waltrip Holds On To 35th; The No. 22 Continues Its Climb...For the second consecutive week, the No. 55 NAPA Toyota owned and driven by Michael Waltrip is 35th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner standings.
Each week, the top 35 teams are guaranteed starting spots, with those outside the top 35 required to qualify on time
This week, the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge owned by Roger Penske and driven by Sam Hornish Jr., made the biggest jump forward — from 36th to 33rd thanks to an 18th-place finish at Dover.
At the other end of the spectrum, another Michael Waltrip Racing car, the No. 00 Waltrip Racing Toyota owned by Rob Kauffman and driven by Michael McDowell, dropped three spots to 34th in the owner standings thanks to McDowell’s 30th-place finish at Dover.
In 36th is the No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet owned by Joe Custer and driven by Scott Riggs. It dropped two spots, and out of top-35 eligibility, after Sunday’s 39th-place finish. Earlier last week, the No. 66 and its sister team, the No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet, were penalized 150 owner points each for inspection infractions two weeks ago at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That penalty dropped the No. 66 from 24th to 34th prior to last Sunday at Dover.
Meanwhile, the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota owned by Bill Davis and driven by Dave Blaney continues its top-35 success story.
Five points events and six weeks ago, the No. 22 was 39th in the owner standings following the season’s ninth race, at Talladega Superspeedway.
But Blaney’s second top-10 finish in three weeks (he was ninth last Sunday at Dover) helped him gain three more spots in the owner standings. The No. 22 now is 30th heading to Pocono — a gain of nine spots over the past month and a half.
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