The Pennsylvania 500 started with a whimper but went out with a bang as a series of late race cautions marred the event's end. Kurt Busch led a race-high 128 laps, but looked in danger of getting caught by Rusty Wallace as the field was huddled ...
The Pennsylvania 500 started with a whimper but went out with a bang as a series of late race cautions marred the event's end. Kurt Busch led a race-high 128 laps, but looked in danger of getting caught by Rusty Wallace as the field was huddled several times by yellow flags in the last twenty laps.
Busch was the class of the field all day, but fell from first to sixth on lap 164 after several teams took two-tires. Wallace was one of those cars who grabbed the lead. Busch bided his time, worked his way back to the pack, and sailed past the No. 2 Dodge on lap 182.
Busch looked poised for an easy win but a late-race caution on lap 191 set up a duel for the checkered flag between Busch's Ford and Wallace's Dodge. The field restarted with seven to go and Busch pulled out to a solid lead.
But the track just couldn't stay green. A spin by Michael Waltrip set up a three-lap race to the line between Busch and Wallace. They restarted with three to go, but Waltrip took another tumble around the track to set up a green/white/checkered finish, adding three laps to the scheduled distance.
Busch stepped out to a healthy lead over Wallace. Even the wrecking car of Kasey Kahne and the resulting last lap yellow couldn't keep Busch from grabbing the win at Pocono International Raceway.
"This was a real dominant win," said Busch. "This is what we needed to get things back on track. It didn't look like we could pass cars when we got shuffled back.it was just a matter of time. We stuck to our game plan.it was great to dominate like this."
He easily scored his 13th career win and second of the season.
"It was a matter of having everything fall our way," Busch said. "It was a big momentum run for us, we couldn't be more excited."
Wallace was second, scoring his 11th top ten of 2005.
"That was a good one," said Wallace. "This thing had big horsepower under the hood today. I was really getting off turn three really, really strong, but I couldn't do nothing with the four tires that the 97 had on it. I had on two.
"That was a great second place finish for us. We gained a lot of points. It was a real sweet week for us."
Mark Martin was third, in his sixth top-three finish of the year.
"We had what we had," Martin commented. "It was a great run. It's just a joy to drive these kinds of race cars. We could have done a little bit more, but they had all those cautions."
Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman complete the top five.
"I really like Pocono a lot," said Edwards. "We had a great day.our team did a great job of coming from the rear. I am very proud of this performance."
Points leader Jimmie Johnson was trapped on lap 50 when a caution emerged as he was on pit road for service. Johnson battled to stay on the lead lap, but the No. 48 Chevy handled poorly all day. The team had to resort to a back-up ride after a Friday practice crash destroyed their primary car.
Johnson finally got the 'lucky dog' on lap 138 and salvaged a decent finish with 12th.
"For a while there it felt like we were never going to get back on the lead lap," lamented Johnson. "It took so long to get back. We just got trapped in the pits."
Johnson preserves his spot atop Nextel point standings. Tony Stewart moves to second just 66 points in the rears. Greg Biffle (-87), Rusty Wallace (- 182), Kurt Busch (-262), Ryan Newman (-292), Mark Martin (-309), Jeremy Mayfield (-405), Elliott Sadler (-408), and Dale Jarrett (-427) complete the top ten.
Notably Dale Earnhardt, Jr. didn't make any headway in his charge to get into the top ten in points. The No. 8 team changed springs on pit road early in the race, costing them one lap, and a penalty for speeding on pit road put the 8 team another lap down.
"Plenty of time," said Earnhardt of his points situation. "We've just got to win one more, maybe run in the top five a couple of times. We'll be right there."
They never recovered. He finished 32nd; and sits 14th in points.
Jeff Gordon, who has also been struggling to make the championship playoffs, finally got a good result. In the last ten races, Gordon has racked up seven finishes of 25th or worse cornering him in the 15th spot. A 13th-place finish ended his run of bad luck, but Gordon remains 541 points back, in 15th.
There were 12 cautions for 39 laps and 13 lead changes among eight drivers.