Monday, August 6, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Jeff Gordon wins rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
The Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway started late due to a rain delay, but that didn’t slow down the Hendrick drivers; all four teams looked mighty strong all weekend long.

Early in the race the No.88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved up from his starting position of eighth to fourth then quickly took the lead on Lap 11. He led twice overall for a total of 17 laps, but his day was interrupted and his record of lead-lap finishes came to an end when on Lap 50 the transmission on the No.88 broke. Crew chief Steve Letarte instructed his driver to head straight for the garage, and 18 laps later Earnhardt Jr. emerged to try to salvage some points. Even though he finished 32nd, he still kept the points lead because second-place Matt Kenseth had problems of his own. 

Jimmie Johnson’s day at Pocono looked to be a winning one; Johnson led 44 laps total, but what looked to be another win for the 48 crew would end on the final restart, Johnson’s right-rear tire was going down and he got loose in the corner, which caused him to hit Matt Kenseth and involving two other cars to bring out a big caution. Johnson restarted 14th but due to heavy rain finished in the that same position. Johnson is still fourth in the point standings.

Kasey Kahne’s day could have ended on that final restart when he radioed to crew chief Kenny Francis that he had a flat tire. However Mother Natural was on his side and Pocono got rained out. Kahne would end up finishing second, while teammate Jeff Gordon won. He had spent his day well inside the top five, even chased his other teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. when Earnhardt Jr. was the race leader. Finishing second helps Kahne get one step closer to that Wild Card for The Chase. Kahne is 11th in the point standings with two wins. 

To have any hope to make the Chase, Jeff Gordon needed a win, and lucky for him the weather was on his side. He brought the No.24 from a 27th place start to sixth place On that final restart, the cars in front of Gordon wrecked and he skated by on the bottom to take the lead for the final eight laps before the race was red-flagged for heavy rain. With Gordon getting this win, the team moved into the second Wild Card position for the Chase. Tied for 13th in points, he gets the nod over Ryan Newman by virtue of having more fifth place finishes. See how one win can change the outcome of the point standings? Now, with this victory can Gordon make it an all-Hendrick Chase?

“We won races like this here before, and man, I tell you what, the way our year is going, we’ll definitely take it like this," Gordon said on his win


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