LONG POND, Pa. — A pit stop with three laps to go by leader Martin Truex Jr. handed Clint Bowyer his first stage win of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season during the second stage of Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Bowyer stayed out as Truex, Denny Hamlin and others peeled off the race track in the closing moments of the 50-lap stint, leading the final four laps before the stage break and taking the green-checkered flag 4.698 seconds ahead of fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski.
“Man, our car has been good all day long, all weekend long,” Bowyer said after pit stops. “Ever since we rolled off the truck we’ve had speed. Obviously, it’s a different task at hand now, with all those cars that pitted, but hopefully we can use these new tires and get up there and run for the money.”
“I sure as hell hope today’s the day we can put it back in victory lane,” he added. “We’re gonna try hard, that’s for sure.
The 10 bonus points Bowyer earned for winning the stage could be crucial as Bowyer tries to claw his way into the playoffs. He entered the day 17th in the provisional playoff standings, 33 points behind Matt Kenseth.
“I thought (the strategy call) was crazy,” Bowyer said. “What’re you going to do? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You got to try to get these stage points. We can still race our way in on points but we need to win. Everybody knows our situation. We just have to do the best we can, be smart and I felt like that was a smart decision.”
Two cautions slowed the second stage, flying on lap 58 for a hard crash by Jimmie Johnson in Turn 3 and again on lap 70, when Kyle Larson lost the driveshaft on his car and the resulting debris blew out onto the track from the back of Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet.
Kyle Busch was the driver who dominated the early portion of the stage, powering around the outside of Matt Kenseth in Turn 3 on a lap 56 restart, but Busch was shuffled back into traffic due to pit strategy sparked by Larson’s issues.
That led to a moment on lap 76, as Busch was trying to run down teammate Denny Hamlin for the lead, when he got loose and washed up the race track back to seventh.
Hamlin then held the lead uncontested, after pitting early in the stage, until Truex drove by him for the top spot with 11 laps before the stage break.
Following the flurry of pit stops by the frontrunners, Danica Patrick crossed the line third at the stage break, behind Bowyer and Keselowski and ahead of teammate Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.
Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Michael McDowell and A.J. Allmendinger completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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