Mobil 1 Driver Leads Sprint Cup Series Standings by 22 Points
Date: Aug. 1, 2016
Event: Pennsylvania 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Start/Finish: 17th/4th (Running, completed 138 of 138 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (709 points, 22 ahead of second)
Winner: Chris Buescher of Front Row Motorsports (Ford)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), had the fastest car the majority of the day in Pocono, but he finished fourth in the rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which was postponed to Monday due to rain that covered the area on Sunday. It was Harvick’s ninth top-five this season and his eighth top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Harvick started 17th and raced his way to the lead by lap 51 before bringing the No. 4 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS to pit road for a green-flag stop. He was able to regain the lead by lap 61 and held it until coming to pit road under caution on lap 67 for a two-tire stop.
The Bakersfield, California, native came out in the third position and ran as high as second by lap 96. He then brought the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for a four-tire stop on lap 101, while the majority took two tires. The strategy paid off as he raced from 17th up to sixth by lap 123, when he came in for what turned out to be his final stop of the afternoon.
Harvick restarted 18th on lap 125 and had raced his way up to fourth when fog rolled across turn one, bringing the race to a halt with Chris Buescher in the lead. NASCAR kept the cars on track for an additional six laps before calling a red flag, which eventually ended the race due to more fog and severe weather in the area.
“Our Mobil 1 Chevy has been really fast,” Harvick said. “Obviously, we had one caution come out at the wrong time and the fog here at the end. I felt like we were in a pretty good spot running down to (turn) two, and here comes the fog. That’s kind of the way that things have gone this year. It seems like when we have a really fast car we just have some weird circumstances, and today would fall right into that category.”
Harvick remains the Sprint Cup Series points leader with 709 points, a 22-point advantage over Brad Keselowski, and his fourth-place finish led the four-car SHR contingent Monday at Pocono.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fifth. It was his fourth top-five this season and his 13th top-five in 36 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 10th. It was his 16th top-10 this season and his 18th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 22nd.
Buescher won the Pennsylvania 400 to score his first career Sprint Cup victory. He is the first Rookie of the Year contender to win a Sprint Cup Series race since Joey Logano in 2009.
Keselowski finished in the runner-up spot, while Regan Smith, Harvick and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 31 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 138-lap race around the 2.5-mile triangle, which was shortened from its scheduled 160-lap distance due to heavy fog and mist.
With round 21 of 36 complete, Harvick continues to lead SHR and the series in the championship standings with 709 points, 22 ahead of second-place Keselowski. Busch is third with 658 points, 51 behind Harvick. Patrick is 24th with 392 points, 111 ahead of 31st-place Buescher. Stewart is 27th with 353 points, 72 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Five races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 7, at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA.
– TSC –