Jeff Gordon made the biggest move through the field at Pocono Raceway after starting 31st and finishing in the 6th position. However, it was due to his starting spot — and lack of track position during the event — that hindered him from challenging for the victory.
After contact with the turn 2 wall in qualifying, Gordon started in 31st place. He was unable to make significant headway in the opening stages and ran 28th when the first caution waved for Kyle Busch’s spin on lap 13. After a pit stop, he moved up to 25th on lap 19 before David Ragan’s spin in turn three. Gordon held the low line and easily avoided Ragan’s spinning car. He stayed on the track during the caution and moved up to 21st for the restart. However, he struggled with handling and dropped to 26th by lap 25. Following a green flag stop on lap 41, Gordon advanced to the 22nd position. Twenty laps later, he moved up to 18th and held the spot through a round of green flag pit stops. Gordon ran in 17th place on lap 70 and took over 15th on lap 72. Another cycle of green flag stops occurred about 15 laps before the halfway point. Gordon ran in 13th place after the round of stops. A timed debris caution at lap 100 brought the field to pit road. Gordon restarted 13th and moved into the top-10 on lap 108. He took 8th from Brad Keselowski on lap 112, and ran in 6th on lap 119 when he passed Clint Bowyer. A caution for rain came on lap 123 and was followed by a red flag period for nearly two hours.
The skies cleared and track drying began around 3:30pm. Shortly after 5pm, the drivers strapped back into their cars to complete the event. Pit stops followed after the red flag was lifted and Gordon restarted in 7th place on lap 131. With 48 laps to go, Gordon came to pit road for a four-tire change. He cycled through the sequence in 7th place. He took 6th place from Joey Logano with 36 to go. Gordon’s final pit stop came with 27 laps to go. A caution flag for Juan Pablo Montoya’s spin with 21 laps to go slowed the field and brought Gordon closer to the leaders. He stayed out during the caution and restarted in 5th place. Ryan Newman passed Gordon for 5th with 13 to go. Gordon remained 7th in the series standings after posting his 7th top-10 finish in the last 9 races.
Road ahead: The series visits the Watkins Glen International road course in upstate New York. Since his last victory at The Glen in 2001, he has struggled on the 2.4-mile course. In the last 9 races there, his highest finish in 9th — with 5 finishes of 21st or worse.
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