By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Sunday at Pocono it appeared to be another race for Jeff Gordon to lose, but the only question was: How would he lose it?
For Gordon a rain shower late in the event brought out the yellow flag, and the entire field pitted. Gordon went with four tires, while Greg Biffle among others opted for two. As a result Biffle would restart second, while Gordon would be mired deep in the pack.
Biffle would cruise for the remainder of the race, and made capturing his first victory of the season look easy. As he crossed the line Biffle shouted to his team, “This One’s For Jack!”
Of course Biffle’s car owner is Jack Roush, who was injured in an airplane crash this week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This victory may help ease the pain of his injuries, as it is Roush-Fenway Racing’s first Sprint Cup victory of the season.
As good as Biffle’s car was at the end of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 Sunday, his car was just the opposite at the beginning of the event.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s been a helluva day. Hitting the wall on the first turn, first lap, coming off of turn one, just scraped it. I knew it was going to be a long day from there.” Biffle Said. “It lost the nose, middle of the corner. I got out of the gas and it never stopped. I couldn’t understand why.”
However when the chips were on the table late the No. 16 Ford came to life. Biffle suspects that the weather contributed to the turnaround.
“Late in the race, I don’t know if it was the cool weather, mist, when it started cooling off, to me it was a completely different racecar.” Biffle said. “I don’t know what happened to it, but it simply took off. I was getting ready to pass Denny Hamlin, I had two tires, he had four, came over, the caution flag came out. The car was phenomenally fast there at the end. I felt really good, solid top-five finish.”
Tony Stewart started from the pole, but slipped back early in the race. However by the end of the event ‘Smoke’ was knocking on the door to victory lane, but he came up just short by finishing second. Stewart explained that he was happy with his finish.
“Yeah, definitely happy with the outcome, for sure.” Stewart said. “We didn’t get the best of starts. We were tight at the beginning of the race. Really proud of Darian Grubb, made great calls all day, kept making my car better. Last half of the race started working our way back forward.”
Biffle’s teammate Carl Edwards was able to finish third, and made it a banner day for Roush-Fenway Racing. The team started off sluggish this season, but in recent weeks they have began a turnaround. However Carl Edwards said the team really wanted to perform for their owner Jack Roush.
“Yeah, it’s a few weeks in a row we’ve run really well. That’s what we needed.” Edwards said. “It’s cool to see a Ford in Victory Lane, especially with everything that happened this week. I spoke with Jack this morning. I think he kind of put out the message he wanted to talk to all of us before we got in the racecars. It’s pretty cool to say the least to have a race win for him and two cars in the top three.”
Points leader Kevin Harvick continued his consistent season by finishing fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five finishers.
Jeff Gordon, who again looked destined for victory lane, was only able to rebound to a sixth-place finish. Gordon at this point has got to wonder what he has to do to collect a trophy anymore.
Gordon has been in position time after time this season to win, only to have heartbreak. Sunday was no different.
There was a seriously scary moment during the race that was triggered when Jimmie Johnson attempted to bump draft Kurt Busch. Busch’s car spun head on into the wall, but that wasn’t where this incident would end.
Just behind this crash, Elliott Sadler careened across the track to miss Busch’s spinning car. Sadler, who won the Truck Series race Saturday, suffered one of the hardest crashes I have ever seen in my time watching NASCAR. The head on impact into the inside guardrail was so severe that his engine actually dislodged from the car.
Sadler would walk away, and would be alright other than some soreness from his seat belts.