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LONG POND -- Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep of the top two positions in Sunday’s Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at Pocono Raceway in a race marred by two high-profile incidents in the closing laps.
Hamlin and Busch dominated the action throughout the afternoon, combining to lead 120 of 204 laps after rain caused a two-hour delay at the start of the race.
Behind Hamlin and Busch, Tony Stewart finished third, with NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick taking fourth ahead of Jimmie Johnson. Best in class among the Blue Oval Boys was AJ Allmendinger, who finished 10th in the No. 43 Coleman Natural Foods Ford Fusion, which had the new FR9 engine this week.
Carl Edwards was 12th in the Kellogg’s/Cheez-It Ford, four positions ahead of the No. 98 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Ford of Paul Menard. Matt Kenseth finished 17th in the Crown Royal Black Fusion.
Harvick, who now leads the Sprint Cup points standings by 19 over Kyle Busch, 136 ahead of Hamlin and 170 ahead of Kenseth, was at the center of one of the two late-race controversies.
Just before Hamlin got to the white flag, Harvick appeared to dump Joey Logano in Turn 3 as the two were racing for fourth place. Logano, who recovered to finish 13th, had to be separated from his rival by Harvick’s pit crew on pit road after the race.
“He let me go in the middle of the straightaway and decided to dump me in the next turn,” Logano said. “I don’t know what the deal is with me, but it’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.”
“It’s just racing,” Harvick said. “I got in there and thought I held a straight line and he wound up coming down. So I hate that it happened and we’ll just go on and keep at it.”
Then Harvick added, “You can’t talk to him, he’s 20 [years old].”
The final lap saw a savage crash triggered when RPM teammates Allmendinger and Kahne were racing for position along the backstrech. Kahne got a run on Allmendigner and attempted pass low, but Allmendinger through a block that sent Kahne into the grass.
There, Kahne lost control of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford, turned right, headed back onto the track perpendicular to oncoming traffic and went airborne for a moment after being hit by Mark Martin and Greg Biffle.
“I had two [new] tires, I had a lot of speed and when I caught the 77 [Sam Hornish Jr.] and the 43 [Allmendinger], they were side-by-side, so I caught them super quick,” said Kahne. “I darted left to pass them and AJ blocked me and when he went left at the same time, it just shot my car up there. I had no control, I was on the grass and then it was a huge wreck. And so, it’s disappointing. We had a great Budweiser Ford and he stuck us in the grass, so it’s a bad deal.” Kahne finished 27th and now is 23rd in points.
The wreck involved about 10 cars, including Elliott Sadler’s No. 19 Stanley Tools RPM Ford and Biffle’s No. 16 3M Fusion.
“Kasey had such a run on me and I went to defend. By the time I defended he was in the grass,” said Allmendinger. “That is my bad. I feel bad about that, I really do. It is what it is though.”
With 14 races in the books, three Ford drivers remain in the top 12 in points: Kenseth is fourth, Edwards ninth and Biffle 10th. Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race in Ford’s backyard at Michigan International Speedway.