Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin posted a ninth-place finish at the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, the highest placing JGR driver in the race after both Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth had problems. Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry 13th at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, where he had four previous wins.
Hamlin was involved in a big wreck on Lap 118 as he got loose on a restart, causing everyone to bunch up behind him. Among the drivers sustaining heavier damage than Hamlin: Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin’s JGR teammate Matt Kenseth. Kenseth, who started 18th in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, was credited with a 38th-place finish.
“I was in the middle lane and I got stuck three-wide,” said Hamlin. “Just the guys getting runs and guys that can accelerate much faster than what we can and so that put me three-wide in the middle. The 15 (Clint Bowyer) was right on my door and it sucked me around and I was just hanging on at that point and I think it was mayhem from everyone checking up from behind. Like I said, I just got sucked around.”
“I just was following (Denny) Hamlin on that restart and he kind of went to the middle,” said Kenseth, “so I stayed at the bottom and got behind Brian (Vickers) and my spotter told me I was clear high so I just went up to go up off the corner and when I got up there I saw the 11 car sideways and the 55 (Brian Vickers) went to miss him and we just got all collected.”
Busch suffered engine issues in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota after qualifying seventh. Busch exited the race after just 23 laps and was credited with a 42nd-place finish.
“Something in between the frame rails just doesn’t want to operate correctly right now and so it’s unfortunate because I thought we had a good car this weekend,” said Busch. “The car in practice was strong and it felt good and we were biding our time here early. We pitted early to get off sequence a little bit to see if we couldn’t do something different than the leaders and it just obviously bit us here. This whole M&M’s Camry team deserves better days and I guess today is not one of them.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono, followed by Kevin Harvick in second. Former JGR driver Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
The Sprint Cup Series is back on track Sunday, August 10th at Watkins Glen International. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.
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