SHR Puts Two Mobil 1 ‘Triple Threat’ Drivers in Top-Five
Date: Aug. 1, 2016
Event: Pennsylvania 400 (Round 21 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Pocono Raceway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 6th/5th (Running, completed 138 of 138 laps)
Point Standing: 27th (353 points, 72 ahead of 31st)
Winner: Chris Buescher of Front Row Motorsports in a rain-shortened finish (Ford)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished fifth in Monday’s rain-delayed and rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway – an event that was neither easy nor quick.
After rain cancelled all activity for Sunday’s planned race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned Monday to an even bleaker weather forecast with heavy rain invading the Pennsylvania mountains. But the race ran with the 40 drivers battling drizzle, wind and fog before heavy rainstorms arrived in the afternoon to finally end racing.
The bad weather couldn’t have come at a better time for Stewart, who started sixth but fell to midpack in the early going. With the field employing differing fuel strategies, Stewart bounced between the top-five and running midpack.
“We were kind of a like a yo-yo today,” Stewart said. “I was pretty happy to see the race end. I hate it for the fans who came back to see us race on Monday, but for just us, we’ll take a fifth-place finish and be happy with it.”
Monday’s finish was another excellent result for the No. 14 team, which came into the race scoring the third-most points of any Sprint Cup team in the last five races. In the early going, however, it didn’t look like a good day was in order. After starting sixth, Stewart pitted on the lap-15 competition caution. While many drivers took on two tires, the No. 14 crew put on four in hopes that the new rubber would give Stewart an advantage. But traffic on the 2.5-mile track trapped Stewart around 20th place.
Although Stewart struggled on restarts, when it was his turn to take two tires while others took four, he vaulted to the front of the field, and the No. 14 looked as fast as any car on the “Tricky Triangle.” Stewart moved to fifth on lap 96 and “yo-yoed” back and forth until the closing laps, when a dense fog that rolled across turn one reduced the spotters’ visibility to near zero.
The caution for fog flew with 27 laps remaining, and the field circled several laps under yellow. When NASCAR threw the red flag, stopping the race with 22 laps to go, Stewart was in fifth place. Then, heavy rain ended any chance of resuming the race.
“I don’t know what would have happened if we started again,” Stewart said. “We could have gained a few positions, but we probably could have lost some as well.”
Monday marked the No. 14 team’s fourth top-5 and seventh top-10 finish of the 2016 season. It was Stewart’s 187th top-five and 306th top-10 finish in his 603 career races. He finishes his career at Pocono Raceway with two victories, 13 top-fives and 24 top-10s in 36 Sprint Cup races.
Stewart and his SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick drove nearly identically painted Mobil 1 paint schemes throughout the four days of Pocono as part of Mobil 1’s “Triple Threat” weekend. Harvick led the SHR contingent by driving his No. 4 Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish. It was his ninth top-five this season and his eighth top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 10th. It was his 16th top-10 this season and his 18th top-10 in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 22nd.
Chris Buescher won the Pennsylvania 400 to score his first career Sprint Cup victory. Buescher is the first Rookie of the Year contender to win a Sprint Cup Series race since Joey Logano in 2009.
Brad Keselowski finished in the runner-up spot, while Regan Smith, Harvick and Stewart rounded out the top-five. Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 31 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 138-lap race around the 2.5-mile triangle, which was shortened from its scheduled 160-lap distance due to heavy fog and mist.
With round 21 of 36 complete, Harvick continues to lead SHR and the series in the championship standings. He remains first with 709 points, 22 ahead of second-place Keselowski. Busch is third with 658 points, 51 behind Harvick. Patrick is 24th with 392 points, 111 ahead of 31st-place Buescher. Stewart is 27th with 353 points, 72 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Five races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Cheez-It 355k at The Glen on Sunday, Aug. 7, at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA.