The Pit Stop

June 10, 2007 1:39 PM

Jeff Gordon Wins Rain Shortened Pocono 500

Jeff Gordon was able to hold off a hard charging Ryan Newman, take the caution flag and eventually the win in a rain shortened Pocono 500. Gordon's crew chief, Steve LeTarte's gamble to bring Gordon in at lap 82, 10 laps earlier than Gordon needed to, won him the race. Newman, who hasn't won a race in 58 consecutive starts, was in the process of passing Gordon for the lead when the rain began to fall. When the caution flew, Gordon was in front of Newman by only 0.026 seconds. When it's your year, it's your year.

Notes: RIP: NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. passed away last Monday. France was a giant in making NASCAR what it is today. He is largely responsible for NASCAR's growth over the past 30 years. In remembrance of Mr. France, every car in today's race will sport a special decal. The decal couldn't describe Bill France Jr. any better: Pioneer, Innovator, Friend. Well wishes and condolences to the entire France family.

P1: Ryan Newman will be starting from the pole for the third straight race. He's coming off of a great week at Dover where he led almost as much as Martin Truex Jr. and finished 2nd. Newman is trying to break a 58 race winless drought. He has the car to do it today.

Smokin': Jimmie Johnson says his car is so good today that he was just fooling around in final practice. Watch for the Lowes car to have another strong run today. Also, watch out for Kurt Busch. In his last three starts at Pocono, he has finished no worse than 2nd. Denny Hamlin won the last two races at Pocono. He led happy hour yesterday and starts 2nd today.

Weather: Rain fell earlier in Long Pond. The track was almost completely dry but then the rain started to fall again. However, we should get the race in. The dryers continue to work. Start time has been pushed back to 3:30.

RAIN DELAY - It's not raining but the track drying process is a lengthy one at Pocono. NASCAR is still hopeful that they will be able to get this race in today.

RAIN DELAY - The sun is back out over the Pocono Raceway. Drivers are being called to their cars. We're almost 2 hours behind schedule but it looks like we're finally going to go racing.

PRERACE - The track is dry and prerace festivities are about to begin. Tire wear is going to be paramount on a green race track. This race will probably be shortened due to daylight running out but at least we'll see some racing today.

PRERACE - A moment of silence is observed in honor of Bill France Jr. God Bless America is sung, the invocation is given and we get a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Up next, the command to fire engines and the green flag in the Pocono 500.

PRERACE - The command has been given by a few of America's finest. 43 machines come to life on pit road. We'll probably see a competition yellow after a few laps in this race because of the rain and to give teams a chance to check tire wear. The cars are circling the track. We're going green at Pocono in a matter of moments.

PRERACE - Halfway is lap 125 in today's race. NASCAR hopes to get there before darkness falls. Sterling Marlin, Paul Menard, Reed Sorenson and Scott Riggs will move to the back of the field at the start.

PRERACE - The cars are coming to the green but with a couple of wet spots still on the track, the race is going to start under a green-yellow condition. The laps will begin counting now. We should get to green flag racing in about 2 or 3 laps.

PRERACE - The green-yellow has be waved off. The green flag is 2 pace laps away.

LAP 1 - GREEN FLAG! Finally, after a 2 hour rain delay, the green flag is in the air. Ryan Newman leads the field down the front stretch. We're racing at Pocono!

LAP 1 - Denny Hamlin takes the lead on the outside and leads lap 1. Kyle Busch moves up to 2nd.

LAP 3 - Tony Stewart is up to 3rd. Jeff Burton is on the move. He's up to 8th. Clint Bowyer taps the wall lightly off of turn 1. No caution.

LAP 5 - Stewart gets around Kyle Busch for 2nd. Carl Edwards is motoring his way through the field. He's up into the top 20 after starting 37th, right behind teammate Matt Kenseth.

LAP 8 - Hamlin leads Stewart by a half a second. Then it's Busch, Newman, Truex, Johnson, Earnhardt, Burton and Mears. Brian Vickers has fallen to 12th after starting 9th. Jeff Gordon has picked up 4 spots. He's up to 14th.

LAP 11 - Denny Hamlin is chasing the three peat at Pocono. Early on, it looks like he's in a league of his own. He continues to lead Stewart by a half a second. Earnhardt Jr. has moved from 13th to 7th. His DEI teammate, Martin Truex Jr. has found his way around Ryan Newman for 4th. Jeff Burton and Kasey Kahne continue to argue over the 9th position.

LAP 15 - Tony Stewart's orange #20 continues to trail his teammate, Hamlin. Carl Edwards is the biggest mover of the race so far. He's gone from 32nd to 18th in 15 laps.

LAP 17 - Martin Truex Jr. in the 4th position is running the fastest laps on the track but he's almost 4 seconds behind the leader. Jeff Gordon finds his way around Jeff Burton for the 8th spot. J.J. Yeley also gets by Burton who desperately needs a caution and a pit stop to make some adjustments.

LAP 19 - Hamlin's crew chief is reporting that they will be in their pit window in 9 laps. Denny says he's tight when he initially picks up the gas in turn 1 but other than that, his car is good. He'll probably make an air pressure adjustment, looking to free him up in the center. Stewart still runs 2nd followed by Truex, who has found his way around Kyle Busch.

LAP 23 - Robby Gordon gets sideways off of turn 1 but saves it. Hamlin is saying his car is starting to get a little tight in the tunnel turn, as well. Green flag pit stops will start in about 3 laps.

LAP 25 - First taker on pit road is Chad McCumbee in the 45 car. He takes 4 tires and all sorts of adjustments. Tony Stewart is in for his service. He's been quiet on the radio but he did say he's been having problems with the front end. He'll take some air pressure adjustments. Kyle Busch is also in. He's complaining that he is tight. He too takes an air pressure adjustment. Ryan Newman takes a trackbar adjustment, also fighting a tight condition. Clint Bowyer takes a trackbar adjustment.

LAP 26 - Hamlin is in. He takes four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in as well. He'll take a few adjustments. Truex Jr. is in for his pit stop. He says his car is good and takes only a small air pressure adjustment.

LAP 28 - Kurt Busch is in for service. He says he has no front grip. He takes a major air pressure adjustment, trying to free the car up. Truex Jr. leads a lap and gets 5 bonus points.

LAP 29 - Casey Mears is finally on for his service, after staying out to lead a lap. He says his car came in the later they went in that run. He'll take an air pressure adjustment.

LAP 30 - Pit stops are cycled. Tony Stewart is being shown as the race leader followed by Hamlin, Truex, Newman, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Yeley and Jeff Burton.

LAP 31 - Stewart gets loose off of turn 1 and Hamlin flies by. Hamlin back to the lead followed by Truex, Newman and Kyle Busch.

LAP 32 - Hamlin lets Stewart go back by. Stewart reassumes the lead after he may have hit some debris in turn 1.

LAP 34 - Carl Edwards is up into the top 15. His teammate, Matt Kenseth is all the way up to the 12th position. Meanwhile, its a three car breakaway up front. Hamlin leads Stewart by a tenth of a second. Martin Truex Jr. is less than a second back. Its another 4 seconds back to Ryan Newman in 4th.

LAP 36 - Hamlin and Stewart pull up on some lapped traffic. Truex Jr. is still a second and a half back. Hamlin reports that he is still a little loose in the center of the corners. Stewart says he is exactly the opposite -- tight from the center, off.

LAP 40 - Jimmie Johnson, back in 6th is a tenth faster than the leaders but he is 9 seconds behind. The Joe Gibbs Chevys continue to set a torrid pace. After 40 laps, its Hamlin the leader followed by Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Casey Mears.

LAP 42 - Martin Truex Jr. has closed the gap a little bit on Stewart who continues to struggle with a tight condition. Stewart has fallen back a full second off of Hamlin. We could have a battle for 2nd shaping up here in a few laps.

LAP 45 - Earnhardt Jr. is reporting that his car has gone back to the tight side. Hamlin says he's still a little bit too loose off of turn 1. No change in the top 5. Denny Hamlin still leads Stewart, Truex Jr, Newman and Kyle Busch.

LAP 48 - Robby Gordon has lost a right front tire. He'll try to limp back to the pits. A lot of smoke and sparks coming off of Gordon's car. The caution will fly. Gordon makes it to pit road without too much damage to the fenders. We're under yellow for the first time.

LAP 49 - We're 50 laps away from halfway. Everyone will be stopping under this caution. Hamlin seeks minor adjustments while Stewart wants some major adjustments to fix that tight condition. Hamlin will take a half a round out of the left rear. Martin Truex Jr. needs more front grip. Stewart takes an air pressure adjustment and some tape off the grill. Jimmie Johnson, fighting a tight race car, makes an air pressure adjustment. Mark Martin wins the race off of pit road but he'll have to come back in. He missed his pit stall. Tony Raines got the lucky dog under that caution. He'll drive around and make his number 96 Chevy the 36th and final car on the lead lap.

LAP 53 - Mark Martin is in for his service after his spotter failed to notice Mark and count him down coming down pit lane. No major adjustments to his car, just 4 tires and gas. He's been pretty good but he'll lose all of his track position. He'll restart 35th.

LAP 54 - Back to green. Denny Hamlin leads Newman, Stewart, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Newman goes for the lead in turn 2 and he's got it. Newman back to the point.

LAP 56 - Trouble on the backstretch. A lot of damage to Dave Blaney. Greg Biffle got loose underneath Blaney and slid up into him. Jamie McMurray may have got a little piece of Blaney driving by. We're under caution for the second time at Pocono. David Gilliland will be the lucky dog. With only a couple of laps on their tires, the leaders will probably stay out.

LAP 57 - None of the leaders pitted. We're going back to green next time by.

LAP 58 - Green is back out. Ryan Newman leads Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

LAP 60 - The 21 of Elliott and the 00 of Reutimann almost make contact off of turn 2, racing to be the first car a lap down. Truex drag races Kyle Busch down the backstretch and takes the 4th position.

LAP 62 - Remember Jeff Gordon's wreck at Pocono last year? It was one of the hardest hits ever recorded in NASCAR history. Well, Gordon is reporting brake problems again. His crew tried to get some tape off of the grill to get some more air to the car under the last stop but they could not do it. He's currently in 8th.

LAP 64 - Caution comes out for debris. Ryan Newman is the race leader followed by Hamlin and Stewart.

LAP 65 - Pit stops. Martin Truex Jr. takes a two tire stop and a quick adjustment. Stewart also takes two tires. Newman, the leader, takes two tires and wins the race off of pit road. Jeff Gordon, who was reporting brake problems, stayed out on the race track. Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler, Joe Nemechek and Ward Burton also stayed out.

LAP 66 - Back to green. Gordon pulls out to a half a second lead over Mears. Mark Martin is up to 3rd followed by Sadler, Nemechek, Newman, Stewart, Earnhardt Jr, Ward Burton and Matt Kenseth.

LAP 69 - Newman gets around Nemechek for 5th and sets his sights on Elliott Sadler. Gordon continues to lead over Mears and Martin. Gordon says he's still driving cautiously with his brake woes.

LAP 70 - Truex Jr. goes around Kenseth for 8th. Newman is beginning to close in on Martin for 3rd.

LAP 72 - Truex passes Sadler for 7th. He continues to march his way back to the front. Newman gets by Mark Martin for 3rd. Hendrick Motorsports continues to lead but Newman is coming. Denny Hamlin is all the way back in 14th.

LAP 75 - Crew chiefs are reporting rain is in the area. We're 35 laps away from halfway. Newman continues to close on Mears and Gordon. He's 2 seconds away.

LAP 78 - Newman is reporting that his temperature gauges are going up. What's coming down, though are his lap times. He's the fastest car on the track right now by 2 tenths every lap. But does he have enough time?

LAP 80 - 20 laps away from halfway with the rain threatening. The sky is completely dark down the back straightaway. Gordon continues to lead over Mears, Newman, Stewart, Truex, Martin, Nemechek, Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

LAP 81 - Newman is right on the back bumper of Casey Mears. Newman takes it three wide on the front stretch and takes the position going off into 1. Newman to 2nd.

LAP 82 - Jeff Gordon is on pit road for fuel. He takes 4 tires also, reporting his car was terrible on the tail end of that run. Casey Mears is also on pit road for fuel. He puts a round of wedge in the left rear. Ryan Newman is back out front with rain imminent.

LAP 83 - 17 laps to go until the race is official. Mark Martin is on pit road for fuel. Newman continues to lead Stewart, Truex, Kenseth, Hamlin, Nemechek, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Johnson and Jeff Burton.

LAP 86 - Martin Truex Jr. takes 2nd away from Tony Stewart going into turn 2 and sets his sights on Ryan Newman with 14 laps to go until the halfway point.

LAP 88 - Jeff Gordon might be sitting pretty to take the lead of this race before halfway. The leaders right now might not be able to make it all the way to lap 101. With 12 to go until halfway, its still Newman out in front of Truex, Stewart, Hamlin and Kenseth.

LAP 90 - Jimmie Johnson has a flat left front tire in turn 2. No caution yet. Johnson is limping down the backstretch, sparks and debris flying everywhere. Still no caution. Truex Jr. is on pit lane. He'll take 4 tires and an adjustment. Kyle Busch is also on pit road. A lot of cars pitting now. Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr also being serviced. Still no caution for Johnson's tire. Johnson is on pit lane. There will be no caution.

LAP 91 - Newman is on pit road, as is Stewart. They both take tires and gas. Its a race against time now. Denny Hamlin is being shown as the leader, followed by Edwards, Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte, Juan Montoya, Ricky Rudd, Kasey Kahne, Chad McCumbee and Reed Sorenson. Drama!

LAP 93 - Johnson will take the 48 Chevy to the garage. Kurt Busch is on pit road. He'll take 4 tires, gas and an air pressure adjustment. Bobby Labonte also pitted. Denny Hamlin, the leader is in. He'll take 4 tires and gas as well.

LAP 94 - We're 6 laps away from halfway. Montoya is in. 4 tires and gas. No adjustments. Carl Edwards is shown as the race leader followed by Ricky Rudd, Reed Sorenson, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Green, Casey Mears and AJ Allmendinger.

LAP 95 - Edwards is reporting rain in turn 3. Still nothing from NASCAR. Jeff Gordon is up to 3rd place with his fresh tires. Reed Sorenson gives up 5th to pit. He'll take tires and gas.

LAP 96 - Almost everyone has pitted now. Gordon and Mears who stopped on lap 82 are in 3rd and 4th position followed by Newman in 5th. Edwards is a sitting duck. The tarps are beginning to go up on pit lane.

LAP 97 - 3 laps away from halfway. Still nothing from NASCAR on the rain. Edwards continues to lead. Rudd pits from 2nd place, putting Jeff Gordon in 2nd. Gordon is erasing Edwards' lead in a hurry.

LAP 98 - Newman gets around Casey Mears for 3rd. Gordon continues to catch Carl Edwards but he is still 11 seconds back. But here comes Carl Edwards to pit road. What a call by Steve LeTarte to pit at lap 82. Gordon is back to the lead at Pocono, 2 laps away from halfway.

LAP 99 - Gordon continues to lead as thunder and lightning light up the skies. Martin Truex Jr. gets around Casey Mears for 4th place.

LAP 100 - Ryan Newman is catching Jeff Gordon. Newman has fresher tires and a faster car by more than a half a second a lap but will he have enough time? Will the rain hold off for Newman?

LAP 101 - The race is now official. Jeff Gordon is still leading while thunder and lightning continue to pass over the Pocono Raceway. Kyle Busch is around Matt Kenseth for 8th. Jimmie Johnson is out of the garage and back on the track in 42nd.

LAP 102 - Newman is still catching Gordon. He's just 1.8 seconds back now. Gordon is peddling his car for all its worth, on the back bumper of the lapped car of Tony Raines, praying for rain. Martin Truex Jr. is closing in on Newman. If the rain holds off for five more laps, we'll have a new leader.

LAP 104 - Jeff Gordon's 4 second lead is gone. Newman is right there on the back bumper of Gordon. The interval is just 0.076 seconds now.

LAP 104 - Caution is out for rain! Newman was on the inside of Jeff Gordon when the caution flew. NASCAR will use the scoring loops around the track to determine who was where when the yellow came out. It looked like Jeff Gordon the leader.

LAP 106 - Gordon was indeed leading when the caution came out. The rain is really coming down in turn 3 but it's dry everywhere else on the track. If this race does not go back green, though, Jeff Gordon's crew chief will have made the call of the year. Running with no tires and almost no gas, the caution came out just in time for Jeff Gordon. When it's your year, it's your year.

LAP 107 - Red flag. The cars are pulling down pit lane where they will come to a stop. It doesn't look like this race will be resumed. Ryan Newman will once again be a bridesmaid. The covers are going on the cars as sunlight is becoming more slim by the minute.

RED FLAG - The rain has stopped and the track is being dried again but will there be enough sunlight to make a decent number of laps? NASCAR says they will make an attempt at getting this restarted.

CHECKERED - With the rain coming down as hard as ever, the race has been called. Jeff Gordon is the race winner. Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer round out the top 10.

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