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5 Best Races at Pocono Raceway

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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With New Hampshire now in the rearview mirror, NASCAR can turn their attention to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania for their annual trip to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. One of the most unique tracks in NASCAR, it has been a staple of the Cup Series schedule since 1974. Which races stand out as the best races in Pocono Raceway history?

With New Hampshire now in the rearview mirror, NASCAR can turn their attention to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania for their annual trip to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond. One of the most unique tracks in NASCAR, it has been a staple of the Cup Series schedule since 1974. Which races stand out as the best races in Pocono Raceway history?

5. 2021 Pocono Organics CBD 325: Alex Bowman Wins as Teammate Blows a Tire

In 2020 and 2021, NASCAR tried something different at Pocono. Rather than two races split up by about six weeks during the summer, NASCAR staged a doubleheader weekend at Pocono with one race on Saturday and one on Sunday. The Saturday race this weekend was one of the best finishes in recent memory.

The race was a wild affair with no one holding the lead for more than 18 laps at a time and eight caution flags for 25 laps. It came down to a battle between teammates as Larson passed Alex Bowman with four laps to go. It seemed that Larson had the race in hand.

That was until Larson blew a left front tire heading into turn three. He hit the outside wall allowing Bowman to take back the lead and the win. It was Bowman’s third win of the year and his first win at Pocono.

4. 2011 Good Sam RV Insurance 500: Brad Keselowski Wins on a Broken Ankle

The 2011 August race at Pocono had a little bit of everything a Pocono race typically has. It had some pit strategy, crazy restarts, and a little bit of weather mixed in. The race was dominated early by Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, who combined to lead 109 laps.

Logano led when the rain came at lap 124, but the red flag was eventually lifted to finish the race. Kyle Busch took the lead and tried to run away with 25 laps to go. This was until a late caution bunched up the field for a restart.

Brad Keselowski, fresh off of a broken ankle suffered in a testing crash at Road Atlanta, was on the front row. He would get the better of Busch and take the lead into turn one, holding on for good. Behind them, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch were beating and banging for third, and the two had a heated discussion on pit road. This ignited a rivalry that was later settled in Richmond a few weeks later.

3. 1986 Summer 500: Photo Finish in the Fog

The 1986 Summer 500 at Pocono Raceway had to deal with something that Pocono has had to deal with too many times, rain. A combination of rain and fog hampered the running of the event, which was shortened to only 150 laps. Those who stayed were rewarded with an exciting finish.

Tim Richmond was involved in an accident with 28 laps to go, which seemingly ended his shot at the win. However, only seven cars were on the lead lap, meaning that Richmond would be okay provided he stayed on the lead lap. He sure did stay on the lead lap, and he worked his way back up through the field

He, Ricky Rudd, and Geoff Bodine were the three who would end up battling for the win. Coming off of turn three on the last lap, Rudd, Bodine, and Richmond were three-wide. It was Richmond who took home the win by a fender in the closest finish NASCAR has had at Pocono.

2. 2017 Axalta Presents the Pocono 400: Ryan Blaney’s First Win

The 2017 June race at Pocono was dominated early by Kyle Busch, but it was decided by pit strategy. After a caution with 19 laps to go, Busch and Brad Keselowski elected to stay out while the rest of the lead lap pitted. Ryan Blaney came out second of those that pitted, the first car on four new tires.

Blaney worked his way into second on the restart and set his sights on Busch. With 10 laps to go, Blaney found his way into the lead with Kevin Harvick in-tow. From there, it was a chess match between the young Blaney and the crafty veteran Harvick.

Blaney kept Harvick behind him for the final 10 grueling laps. It was Blaney’s first career race win, and it was also the first Cup Series win for The Wood Brothers since the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne.

1. 2000 Pocono 500: Jeremy Mayfield Bump and Runs Dale Earnhardt

During his illustrious career, no one seemed to rattle Dale Earnhardt. Usually it was Earnhardt who was doing the bumping and running while the rest of the field was left scratching their heads. That changed, even if for a moment, in June of 2000 at Pocono Raceway.

The race was dominated by Rusty Wallace, but Earnhardt took the lead under caution at lap 185. Earnhardt would pull away on the ensuing restart with Jeremy Mayfield in hot pursuit. It came down to the last turn on the last lap.

Mayfield did what many wished they could do to Earnhardt by bumping him out of the way. Mayfield went on to win his third career race. Earnhardt would finish fourth, and, for the first time seemingly in his entire career, had to taste his own medicine.

This weekend will add another chapter into the history of one of the United States’ most unique and important race tracks. NASCAR continues to etch their legacy into the track as well, and maybe this weekend will be an addition to this list of great races.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts