It’s something normally reserved for places like Talladega Superspeedway. The “big one” a multi-car crash, isn’t something usually seen at the 2.5 mile relatively flat triangle otherwise known as Pocono Raceway. During Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup GoBowling.com 400 though the big one did indeed take place and sent many contenders home early.
The trouble happened on a restart on lap 116. As the field exited turn 1, Denny Hamlin’s Toyota got loose. Brian Vickers slowed behind him blocking the narrow part of the track and setting off melee behind them.
"I was in the middle lane and I got stuck three-wide,” Hamlin said.” 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. "
Vickers said he tried to avoid Hamlin.
“ I tried to go low to miss him and then got loose,” Vickers said. “I don't know if someone got me in the back or not, but as soon as I tried to avoid the 11 (Hamlin) we spun and then got in a crash. One thing led to another.”
Behind cars were sent spinning and crashing. The carnage ended ended in a wad of metal. In addition to Vickers, who had run in the top five at one point, Matt Kenseth, who led three laps was also involved. Kenseth said he saw very little of what had happened.
“I just was following (Denny) Hamlin on that restart,” Kenseth said. “He kind of went to the middle 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 (Denny Hamlin) sideways and the 55 (Brian Vickers) went to miss him and we just got all collected."
In all 17 cars received some damage . And while many were able to drive away, several were done for the day including Kenseth and Tony Stewart who found his Chevy resting on top of the Chevy driven by Paul Menard.
“Yeah, I tend to end up on Paul (Menard) a lot,” Stewart, joked. “Car wise (laughs) our cars tend to end up on top of each other for some reason. I think that is the second time I’ve landed on top of him. This time at least we weren’t looking windshield in at each other.”
“I told Tony (Stewart) the last time we did that was about two years ago at Talladega,” Menard said. So we have got to stop doing that.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 160-lap event, his third win of the season and his second at Pocono this year. He is the sixth driver to complete the Pocono sweep and the first since Hamlin accomplished the feat in 2006.