|Brad Keselowski and his freshly drained, broken ankle won for the second time this season, again reshuffling the Sprint Cup wild-card scenario. Kyle Busch came from deep in the field to finish second. Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson had a last-lap renewal of their percolating distaste for each other.|
All in all, an otherwise mundane 500 miles at Pocono evolved into an interesting set of storylines on Sunday.
Foremost among them, of course, was Keselowski winning just days after suffering a broken ankle in a testing crash at Road Atlanta. That feat of will, modern medicine, pit strategy and serendipity -- a rain delay allowed him to have the ankle drained -- gave Keselowski two victories this season, just one less than series leaders Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, but more importantly it boosted him back into the top 20, were he snatched one of two wild-card spots. The two drivers with the most wins from points positions 11-20 after Race 26 at Richmond will qualify for the Chase as wild cards.
- Final Laps: Keselowski fights off pain, wins Pocono
Days after breaking his ankle, Brad Keselowski held on to win at Pocono for his second victory of the season.
Keselowski's exploits brought a quick end to Paul Menard's feel-good tale of winning the Brickyard 400 -- it was Menard's first Sprint Cup win -- and claiming a wild-card spot last week. With four drivers in the top 20 vying for a wild card, Keselowski and Denny Hamlin -- in 11th place with one win -- now hold the precious playoff tickets. But former race winners Clint Bowyer (13th), Greg Biffle (14th), Kasey Kahne (15th), Mark Martin (16th), David Ragan (19th) and Joey Logano (20th) lurk, and road course standouts Juan Pablo Montoya (21st) and Marcos Ambrose (23rd) could leap into the mix with a win at Watkins Glen this week. Few of these winless drivers have done anything to suggest a win is imminent, but in a season in which 14 different drivers have won races, surprises shouldn't be so surprising.
The landed gentry in the top 10, meanwhile, continues to jostle and posture, veering their cars toward each other and calling each other names (in the case of Johnson and Kurt Busch, at least). It must be nearing the point of the season when everything really matters.
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|Top-10s: 12 |
|A post-race spat with Johnson became the most memorable part of his afternoon, which is somewhat of a shame. Busch, who led four times for 38 of 200 laps, held off Johnson in a highly charged battle of champions in the final laps as he continued to jostle for respect and a renewal of his title-winning ways. He might have lost the post-race interview battle with Johnson, but he won the day in finishing a place higher than Johnson and gaining two spots in the standings to fourth, just 14 points out of first place.|