Thank you for attending the Pocono Raceway Axalta Presents Pocono 400 weekend.
WOOD BROTHERS HISTORY: Ryan Blaney is the third Wood Brothers driver to win at Pocono Raceway, joining David Pearson in 1975 and Neil Bonnett in 1980.
AXALTA PRESENTS POCONO 400 (STORY COURTESY OF NASCAR.COM): Dogged by Kevin Harvick for the final eight laps of Sunday’s Axalta presents the Pocono 400, Ryan Blaney held off the 2014 series champion in a breathtaking battle to claim the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of his career.
After a restart on Lap 148 of 160, Blaney grabbed the lead from polesitter Kyle Busch on Lap 151, with Busch on older tires, doing everything he could to block Blaney’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Racing side by side with Busch’s No. 18 Toyota down the Long Pond straightaway, Blaney stayed in the gas through the Tunnel Turn and cleared Busch’s Camry off the corner.
A lap later, Harvick passed Busch and closed within a car-length of Blaney, who drove flawlessly for the final eight laps to keep Harvick at bay. Blaney crossed the finish line .139 seconds ahead of Harvick to become the 19th different driver to win for the Wood Brothers and the first since Trevor Bayne took the checkered flag in the 2011 Daytona 500. Blaney, 23, is also the youngest first-time winner since Bayne, who was 20 years old when he took the checkered flag for the Wood Brothers at Daytona.
When Blaney climbed from his car in Victory Lane, the magnitude of what he had just accomplished still hadn’t registered.
“I think it exceeds the dream a little bit,” Blaney said. “I grew up watching my dad (Dave Blaney) race on this race track, and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in Victory Lane, No. 1, and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio — a home to me — is pretty awesome.”
First, however, Blaney had to get past Busch after the final restart, no easy task, even though Busch had stayed out on older tires during the fourth and final caution, called for Kasey Kahne’s brake failure and crash into the Turn 1 wall.
“Kyle stayed out and he was on a little bit older tires, and it looked like he was getting pretty tight, especially off of (Turn) 1, and that’s where new tires really seemed to come alive, because you could hold the line and get runs on him, downshift and get next to him.
“I had a big run on him off of (Turn) 3, and he did a good job blocking, and we were able to get under him, but then I had to hold the 4 (Harvick) off. He was super-fast. I can’t thank Kevin enough for racing me clean. That was really cool of him, but it was definitely hectic. Hopefully, the fans liked it. It was really cool.”
Harvick, whose engine survived a missed shift at the end of Stage 2, was waiting for Blaney to make a mistake over the final eight laps, but the mistake never came. And Harvick’s brakes weren’t stout enough to allow him to charge the corners as effectively as Blaney could.
“We never could stop like we needed to all weekend, so you just had to be really careful with the brakes,” Harvick said. “If I’d over drive it for a lap or two the pedal would start going down, and then I was really at a deficit. So I had to be very aware of where I let off every lap.
“The 21 (Blaney) could charge the corner a little bit harder than I could, and my best bet, the way I passed people all day was waiting for him to slip up off the bottom, and he never slipped up off the bottom. So I just didn’t have enough laps to finish that last pass off, and Ryan did a good job of not slipping a wheel with the amount of laps that he had left and was able to hold on.”
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Erik Jones finished a career-best third in the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota. Kurt Busch ran fourth, followed by Brad Keselowski, who started on the front row beside Kyle Busch on the final restart but lost positions through the first corner.
Martin Truex Jr. came home sixth and retained the series lead by one point over seventh-place Kyle Larson, who won the second stage. Chase Elliott was eighth, and Kyle Busch slipped to ninth, despite winning the first stage and leading 100 of the 160 laps.
Driving the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. finished 26th, hampered by three pit road speeding penalties, two of which came on consecutive trips to pit road early in the race.
POCONO GREEN 250 (STORY COURTESY OF NASCAR.COM): Brad Keselowski zoomed past Kyle Larson with one lap to go, swiping the lead and the XFINITY Series victory in the Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday.
It marked Keselowski’s first XFINITY Series victory in two years, his last one coming at Texas in November 2015. Keselowski led a race-high 29 laps in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Justin Allgaier managed to sneak by Larson, too, to snag second in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Allgaier also squeaked into the XFINITY Series standings lead with his finish, bettering Elliott Sadler by one point.
Larson, Sadler and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five in Pocono.
Larson appeared poised to snag his fourth XFINITY Series victory of the season, grabbing the lead on Lap 85 of the 100-lap race. He led 15 laps until Keselowski edged him on the final lap.
The race was divided into three segments, with caution flags at Lap 25 and Lap 50, and the checkered flag scheduled to fall on Lap 100. Keselowski won both stages.
Kyle Benjamin, the 19-year-old who was starting just his second XFINITY Series race, started on the pole; he finished 16th. In his other XFINITY start, which came at Richmond, Benjamin started second and finished 32nd after crashing.
GENERAL TIRE #AnywhereIsPossible 200 (Story courtesy of ARCA): According to Riley Herbst, it was “a long time coming.” In reality, it took just six races for the 18-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada rookie to find his way to Victory Lane. Herbst, in the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink-UFC Gym Toyota, took the lead on lap 37 of the 80-lap race and never gave it up, coming home the winner of the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 Friday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.
Herbst beat second-place finisher Brandon Jones to the final stripe by nearly two seconds to earn his career-first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory, and the first for Joe Gibbs Racing on the ARCA side.
Herbst also set a new ARCA race record for Pocono, finishing the race in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 55 seconds. The new mark surpassed the old mark of 1:25:29 set by Scott Riggs back in 2004.
Jones, in the No. 8 Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet, got to within five lengths of Herbst late in the going, but fell back in the closing laps.
Jones reference to being “dominate” included the open test Wednesday and the practice session Friday morning in which the Atlanta, Georgia driver was fastest in both. However Jones cut a tire during the race and played catch-up from there.
Michael Self finished third in the No. 28 Sinclair Lubricants Chevrolet, a car out of the Mason Mitchell Motorsports shop.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards heads to Michigan Int’l Speedway next for the Corrigan Oil 200 next Friday, June 16. The race is live at FS1 at 6 p.m. Eastern.
FANFEST AT POCONO RACEWAY: Pocono Raceway will host a FanFest on Friday, July 28 featuring nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
The FanFest will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with the Infield Block Party to follow at Pocono Raceway to kick-off the Pennsylvania 400 weekend.
Pocono Raceway will reveal the complete list of drivers over the coming weeks including the event entertainment and planned festivities each driver will be involved in.
Two drivers are confirmed for the FanFest.
Driver Daniel Suarez and Pocono Raceway President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky officially announced the FanFest during a press conference today. Suarez and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are two of the nine drivers confirmed for the fan-focused event.
With qualifying and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 all on Sunday, July 30, Pocono Raceway added a FanFest to a weekend full of fun activities.
The FanFest is free for all who have purchased Friday tickets and Sunday Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tickets for Sunday’s Pennsylvania 400. Those who have purchased tickets to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 can enter for just $10 a car load. The event is open to the public and admission is just $20 per vehicle. Please be sure to have your tickets with you to access the FanFest at no charge.
A complimentary grandstand shuttle will be provided for those who have purchased Friday tickets. All other guests are asked to enter through the Tunnel on Long Pond Road for access to the FanFest beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Stages for the Axalta Presents Pocono 400: Stage 1 ends on lap 50; Stage 2 ends on lap 100; Final Sage ends on lap 160.
HOME GIVEAWAY: U.S. Army Sergeant Gene Tilstra received the keys to her newly renovated home in Saylorsburg, Pa., Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
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Tilstra, who also works part-time as a security guard at Pocono Raceway, served six years and completed tours in Iraq, Korea and Germany. While serving as Military Police in a security detail in 2003, Tilstra’s unit came under attack: IED explosions and a firefight ensued, during which she sustained injuries. She was discharged from the Army in 2006. Life after service—reintegration—was tough. She received help from the VA hospital and was diagnosed with PTSD and is on the road to recovery. Sergeant Tilstra’s is a proud mother of a two-year old girl and credits her daughter with giving her purpose and the will to get better.
SOUNDS OF POCONO RACEWAY ON SPOTIFY: We know the sounds of the cars, the noise an air gun makes and the roar of the crowd as the green flag is waved. But what about the songs? We have created Pocono Raceway Spotify playlists to help tell that story.
Pocono Raceway, drivers and crew members from JR Motorsports and of course our mascot Tricky and President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky have provided an inside look at their musical tastes, he mostly like DJ music, produced with the top 10 studio monitors. As part of this, we are seeking input from our fans.
To access Pocono Raceway on Spotify, visit spotify.com and search Pocono Raceway.
Not only did JR Motorsports capture the songs they play in the race shop, they also provided reasons why. Visit https://www.poconoraceway.com/sounds-pocono-raceway-spotify.html to learn more.
COME BACK AND SEE US: A friendly reminder if you are covering July’s Pennsylvania 400 or the Verizon INDYCAR Seeries ABC Supply 500, please request your credentials as soon as possible. All of our credentials are processed on-line at www.poconoraceway.com/credentials.
TRACK HISTORY: Pocono Raceway was founded in 1968 by Dr. Joseph Mattioli and Dr. Rose Mattioli. Since then, Pocono Raceway has hosted 79 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and 24 Verizon IndyCar races. The first race held at Pocono Raceway was a USAC (current IndyCar) race in July 3, 1971, won by Mark Donohue. Three years later, the first 500-mile NASCAR race was held at ‘The Tricky Triangle’ on August 4, 1974, where “The King” Richard Petty took the checkered.
MILITARY DISTINGUISHED VISITORS: It is an honor to welcome Major Generals Theodore “Ted” C. Harrison III and Garrett Harencak to the track this weekend. They were both present at the Driver/Crew Chief Meeting on Sunday.
- Major General Theodore Harrison III: became the Director of Operations for the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management on October 9, 2015. As the Director, Gen. Harrison oversees the development and coordination of program requirements, strategy, and policies pertaining to facilities, military construction, energy, real property asset management and BRAC properties that support Army objectives and improve the quality of life for Soldiers, Civilians, and Families.
- Major General Garrett Harencak: became Commander of Air Force Recruiting Service, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas in September 2015. The Air Force Recruiting Service comprises more than 2,470 Airmen and civilians in more than 1,100 recruiting offices across the U.S. and abroad. He is responsible for all enlisted accessions and a variety of officer accession programs. AFRS also manages all strategic marketing for the U.S. Air Force.
PARACHUETE DEMONSTRATION: Sunday’s parachute demonstration was conducted by Team Fastrax.
ELI YOUNG BAND CONCERT: The award-winning, multi-platinum national country artist, Eli Young Band, performed an hour-long set prior to the start of the Axalta presents Pocono 400.
UP NEXT: The Pennsylvania 400, Pocono Raceway’s second NASCAR weekend, is July 28-30. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying and the race will both be held Sunday. The Verizon IndyCar Series will visit Pocono Raceway August 20-21.
2018: Pocono Raceway will host Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races June 2-3 and July 28-29 in 2018