Kevin Harvick Takes Checkered Flag for First Time at Pocono
It was an action-packed doubleheader weekend for the NASCAR Cup series circuit from the Tricky Triangle of Pocono over the weekend. There was plenty of excitement to go around with a lot going on but the end results were fairly consistent. With that said, we take a look at what was a highly entertaining Pocono Organics 325 that took place on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.
In a race that saw only 10 lead changes over the course of the 130 laps run, it was Kevin Harvick who managed to take the checkered flag for his first win at Pocono in his 39th career run at the track. He held off Denny Hamlin by .761 seconds to earn the victory. Hamlin gave a game effort but had some vibration issues late in the race that prevented him from closing the gap on Harvick. Aric Almirola finished third while Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five in the race.
All told, only eight drivers held the lead for at least one lap in the race as the cars near the front of the field controlled most of the race. Almirola led a race-high 61 laps but gave up the lead for good on lap 93, meaning he led two-thirds of the way through the first 70 percent or so of the race. Harvick led only 17 laps but held the lead for the second-most laps and more importantly, they were the final 17 of the race. Martin Truex Jr., who finished sixth, led 14 laps while Ryan Newman (15th) led 13. Joey Logano (36th) led 11 laps, Hamlin held the edge for 10 laps, Chris Bueschler (10th) led for three and Michael McDowell (eighth) held the upper hand for one lap. After six cautions totaling 21 laps in the first 82 laps, the final 48 laps of the race were run under green flag conditions.
Logano, Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Matt DiBenedetto and Alex Bowman were the drivers that were in the top 10 at the end of both the first and second stages in the race. Of that group, Almirola was the lone driver to run in the top 10 of the first two stages and finish in the top 10 of the race when all was said and done. Logano ended up 36th, six laps down, while Blaney finished 12th and DiBenedetto was 13th at the finish. Elliott finished a lap down en route to a 25th-place showing and Bowman was also a lap down as he logged a 27th-place showing.
If you followed our prop bet predictions, both parts one and two, it was an up and down Saturday at the track. We took Brad Keselowski to finish in the top 10 (-265) and while the prohibitive odds were problematic, his ninth-place run painted him as a winner. There was also the hit on Hamlin to finish in the top five (+115) in the race on a track where he went into the weekend with five career victories. The biggest hit on the weekend was picking Almirola to record the top finish in Group D (+240) as he outran Tyler Reddick (30th), DiBenedetto (13th) and Austin Dillon (19th) to turn that one into a solid cash.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s race, it was Harvick leading the Cup Series points standings by 29 points over Blaney. Logano (47 points back) was third, while Elliott (57 points behind) and Keselowski (62 points back) rounded out the top five drivers. For the playoff standings, Harvick and Hamlin were tied for the top spot with three victories each. Logano and Keselowski each had two victories while Blaney, Elliott, Truex Jr. and Bowman each had one on the board. Kyle and Kurt Busch held the ninth and 10th-place spots as they held the highest point totals among non-winning drivers entering Saturday.
As for the NASCAR Cup circuit, the next race that will be run is the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records on Sunday, July 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There will be no fans in attendance at the Brickyard but there will be plenty of turning and burning to take place. Race time is scheduled for 4 pm ET with the television coverage slated to be handled by NBC.