Overton’s 400

NASCAR America: Scan All from Pocono Raceway

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“The 18 is coming like a bat out of hell.”

Those words from crew chief Rodney Childers to Kevin Harvick proved to be a predictor of how Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway would end, with Kyle Busch smoking the field for his first win of the year.

It’s one of the highlights of this week’s edition of “Scan All,” giving you the best scanner traffic from the race while Busch narrates how he drove to the win.

Other highlights include:

  • “Holy cow, I don’t know how we got through that.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after narrowly avoiding a eight-car accident on the first lap of the race.
  • “I don’t know what happened, this thing is ****ing sideways.” – Busch after his No. 18 got wicked loose in Turn 1 late in the race, causing him to lose a hand full of spots in the field.
  • “I did everything I could to gain time and I’m a short chute behind those [REDACTED] in front of us.” – Kyle Busch lamenting his position on the track.
  • “Go find David Ragan‘s spotter and punch him in the face for me.” – Martin Truex Jr. after Ragan’s slow entry to pit road slowed down Truex’s progress on the track.

Watch the above video for the full feature.

 

Danica Patrick ends July by completing best stretch of racing in two years

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For the first five months of the season, almost nothing seemed to go right for Danica Patrick.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver, in her fifth full-time season in the Cup Series, recorded seven DNFs through the first 17 races of the year. Six of those were for crashes, and it seemed like each was harder than the last.

And after a particularity violent crash at Kansas that injured Aric Almirola, Patrick voiced frustration at her run of bad luck.

By the time she crashed out of the July 1 race at Daytona, Patrick had one top-10 finish (10th, Dover) – her first in two seasons – and no other finish better than 16th.

Flash forward to Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway – the same track where a Facebook video earlier this year showed her lecturing fans after they booed her for not signing autographs – and Patrick was capping off her best four-race stretch in two seasons.

Patrick drove her No. 10 Ford to a 15th-place finish in the Overton’s 400. It was her fourth straight top-15 finish, a career first for Patrick who has 175 Cup starts since 2012.

The stretch began at Kentucky Speedway, where she also placed 15th. She followed it with a 13th at New Hampshire and an 11th at Indianapolis.

“The Code 3 Associates Ford team did a great job today getting us another top 15,” Patrick said after the race. “We have really gained some consistency over the past few weekends. I think we’re going to put together more top 15s and top 10s this season as long as we can stay out of trouble and finish the race.”

Patrick ended this stretch with an average finish of 13.5. According to Racing Insights, her previous best four-race stretch based off average finish was in March and April 2015. Patrick averaged a finish of 12.8 in races at Auto Club Speedway (19th), Martinsville (seventh), Texas (16th) and Bristol (ninth).

This current streak is also just the third time in her career she’s earned three consecutive top-20 finishes.

But Patrick almost lost out on her chance at a top 15 on the first lap of Sunday’s race.

After starting 22nd, she was one of eight cars counted in a crash in Turn 3. But the No. 10 Ford only suffered minor front end damage. But as teams executed various pit strategies in Stage 1, Patrick found herself in fourth place on Lap 27 before she pitted on Lap 30.

In Stage 2, Patrick spent much of the 50-lap segment running in 11th after restarting from a Lap 70 caution in 13th.

As leaders pitted neat the end of the stage, Patrick moved into third where she finished the stage. It was only the third time Patrick has earned stage points this season. She finished eighth in Stage 1 at Talladega, earning three points. She also finished sixth in her Daytona 500 qualifying race, earning five points.

Now Patrick heads to Watkins Glen International. In four starts at the road course, Patrick’s best finish is 17th in 2015. Last year, she led a season-high 11 laps in the race.

Denny Hamlin bounces back from speeding penalty to finish in top five (video)

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Not even his third speeding of the year could keep Denny Hamlin from keeping a hot streak going Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

After begin caught speeding on pit road on Lap 52, Hamlin was able to lead 18 laps and ultimately finish fourth in the Overton’s 400. He was one of six Toyotas to finish in the top 10.

“We did a good job there trying to short pit (Martin Truex Jr.) and get the track position in front,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “We just couldn’t get through traffic quite as good as those other guys and when I went to catch some lapped cars I got loose behind one of them and lost the lead.”

The finish is Hamlin’s fifth top-four finish in thelast seven races. That includes his win at New Hampshire on July 16.

Hamlin went on to say he believes Pocono should try using the PJ1 traction agent in the future.

Watch the above video for the full interview.

Kevin Harvick finishes runner-up at Pocono once again (video)

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The Overton’s 400 came down to two celebrated Cup drivers who have won almost everywhere but Pocono Raceway.

The day ended with Kevin Harvick still looking for his first Pocono victory after he finished second to Kyle Busch, who got the win.

Harvick never officially led a lap, but he took the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 143 until Busch gave the rear of his No. 4 Chevrolet a bump in Turn 3 and shot to the lead.

Seventeen laps later, Harvick was finishing second for the second straight Pocono race. He finished on the bumper of Ryan Blaney in the June 11 race. Busch’s margin of victory was 6.178 seconds.

“I knew the only chance I had was to get through the corner correctly,” Harvick told NBCSN. “And I got in there and got loose all the way through the corner. … I’m sure he thought I was going to go and I didn’t accelerate. I was trying to stay on the bottom to park the thing and get going and he just had a good roll.”

The result is Harvick’s fifth top 10 in the last six races.

Pocono remains one of three active tracks Harvick has not won at yet in the Cup Series, including Texas Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.

Watch the above video for the full interview.

What Drivers Said after Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway

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Kyle Busch – Winner: “It’s been a frustrating year, but an awesome day today. … We didn’t really outsmart anyone today, we just kind of played our race and our own strategy and thought about it a little differently than others and it worked out for us.”

Kevin Harvick – finished second: “Kyle (Busch) had the class of the field all weekend. His car was really, really fast. He got the pole. Got the win. Pretty much just charged through the field. We definitely have a little bit of work to do. I feel like we got closer and closer. I feel like we raced around all the Toyotas all day. Just proud of everyone on the Mobil 1 Ford.”

Martin Truex Jr. — finished third: “It wasn’t the right strategy, but I think we still had a shot at it if we hadn’t got caught up there at the end in traffic so bad. Just kept catching lapped cars in the wrong spots and that cost us second without a doubt. I don’t know if we could have beat Kyle (Busch), he was really, really fast there at the end and we were off there at the end.”

Brad Keselowski – finished fifth: “A strategy day for sure. Our car was okay. I thought we had the best strategy out there, we just needed a little bit more speed.”

Clint Bowyer – finished sixth: “It was a big pit strategy day for sure and you know that going into a race like this. Our car was good all weekend. We unloaded a fast car. This is the best car that we’ve unloaded in quite some time. A little bit different build. Hopefully this is what we’re looking for, what I’m looking for and build on this.”

Erik Jones — finished eighth: “It was okay, just up and down, just needed track position most of the day and then got behind, had a loose wheel and put us way behind. Just had to work back from that. The SiriusXM Camry had good speed, but just the handling wasn’t great all day – rear grip really. We made some adjustments throughout the day and just have to keep working at it.”

Chase Elliott – finished 10th: “Our race was alright.  I made a mistake, thought I had a flat tire and pretty much ruined our day.”

Kasey Kahne – finished 11th: “We had a strong car, just track position was tough. … (On his run-in with Jimmie Johnson) Jimmie was high and everybody was going by him on the inside. I followed the next car and I was like way lower than where the groove is and he still hit me. I thought maybe he couldn’t steer because he had a problem or like something was flat because he obviously spun right after that. So, I’m not exactly sure what happened to him.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – finished 12th: “Man, I don’t know where the speed is that the front three or four have and they’ve got it every week. We don’t have that and we are not going to find it in that garage on Friday or Saturday. If we don’t show up with it, we ain’t going to find it. That is somewhere in the shop … so we will have to keep working back there.”

Kurt Busch – finished 13th: “I thought we did a good job on strategy based off the pace of our car. We were just kind of welded to 15th-place all day. We weren’t close enough to gamble and pit while it was under green conditions and the Stage breaks. We just kept chipping away at it. Restarts for us were 50-50; some were good, some were bad. Overall, we experimented with some suspension and we know not to do that again.”

Ryan Newman — finished 14th: “Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was loose in Turn 1 and tight in Turn 3 for most of the race. We had some pit strategy scenarios and we chose to go for the stage points in Stage 2 which was good for our team. But I found with our overall handling, our speed was in line with the six to seven cars in front of us and when you are all running equal, it’s tough to pass. We definitely have improved our race package from when we raced here in the spring. I’m happy to see our team starting to make the turn for a change to have a strong run during the Playoffs.”

Danica Patrick — finished 15th: “The Code 3 Associates Ford team did a great job today getting us another top-15. We have really gained some consistency over the past few weekends. I think we’re going to put together more top-15s and top-10s this season as long as we can stay out of trouble and finish the race.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — finished 16th: “This is probably one of the best cars I’ve had at Pocono. We should’ve had a better finish today but the pit-road speeding penalty cost us. Overall we had a good weekend and will keep learning in these final races before the playoffs.”

Paul Menard — finished 19th: “We had our work cut out for us from the opening laps here at Pocono Raceway. When they wrecked ahead of us on the first lap, I got into the back of another car and it damaged the nose and hood on the Moen/Menards Chevrolet. The guys in the pits worked on it each stop and finally got it fixed up to where it wasn’t an issue. Thanks to my team, we were able to earn a top-20 finish. They kept fighting and never gave up.”

Trevor Bayne — finished 20th: “We were just really tight at the end. As each run got longer the handling would shift more and more toward being tight on the exit of the corners. But I want thank all of my guys for their hard work this weekend. We’ll rebound from this next week in Watkins Glen. We got a top-10 there last year and I’m confident that we can unload another fast AdvoCare Ford when we get there next week.”

Austin Dillon — finished 21st: “We got off on the wrong foot today that’s for sure. It’s one of those situations where we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. We got hit from behind on Lap 1. I hate if for our American Ethanol team but they pulled together and worked hard to make the repairs so we didn’t lose any laps. This weekend was a challenge from the get-go, but we are by no means giving up. We keep improving on our cars and it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing better results.”

Kyle Larson – finished 33rd: “I had a drive shaft break. I don’t know if it was my doing or what, but I didn’t change my motion up or anything like that. I thought it was fairly normal from what I did and everything just shattered when I got into third gear. Yeah, a little disappointing because our Energizer Chevy was pretty good today.  I thought we had a top five car for sure.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON – finished 35th: “It’s just hard racing. … I was in the outside lane and losing some spots. I think the No. 5 washed-up into me and kind of finished me off over there in Turn 3. It’s definitely not the day we wanted to have but I don’t think either one of those situations were intentional by any stretch. It’s just a bummer day for this whole Lowe’s team and we’ll get our Chevy ready for next week and go do it again.”

Aric Almirola – finished 38th: “(What happened on the first lap crash?) I have no idea. Our Smithfield Ford Fusion was really good to start off there. I had passed about seven cars the first two corners. I was making a lot of progress and then we got to Turn 3 and everybody just stacked up. I saw some smoke. I saw some cars stopped. I got piled in from behind and just drove into the accident. I haven’t seen a replay and have no idea what caused the wreck. Sort of a bummer not to even make a whole lap. Not our day.”

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