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Kyle Larson leads Pennsylvania 400 at midpoint; rain on the horizon

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 - Practice

LONG POND, PA - JULY 29: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2016 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

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Kyle Larson is the leader at the halfway point of the 160-lap Pennsylvania 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Larson, who is seeking his first career Sprint Cup win, leads Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.

Logano has led the most laps: 19.

There is concern that approaching rain could cut the scheduled length of the race. The race, originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed to Monday because of rain.

Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. was in command early on, leading 16 of the first 20 laps.

However, Truex suffered a tire failure on Lap 20 that sent him into the wall and sustained moderate damage. The failure apparently occurred when the inner valve stem of the inner tire liner was knocked off by a loose lug nut.

His team was able to repair some of the damage, and Truex returned to the track.

“Just blew a right front (tire),” Truex said in a team media release. “A lug nut bounced off the ground, fell in behind the wheel behind a pit stop. It’s just bad luck honestly.

“I knew something wasn’t right in (turn) one and two and I got real tight off of (turn) two on that restart and went down the back and was like, ‘Ah, it feels okay.’ And, as I got closer to the tunnel turn I felt it start to go down and by the time I let off and tried to slow down it was just going straight for the fence.

“God, it was so good. I mean, unbelievable that it happened the way it happened. They told me how it happened on the pit stop. A lug nut spun off, hit the ground, bounced behind the wheel somehow and knocked the inner valve stem off. Crazy bad luck and just a shame. The car was so good. I was literally on cruise control and driving away. I don’t know – frustrating but it’s racing I guess.”

Truex suffered another tire failure – again on the right front – on Lap 41, which eventually sent him to the garage for repairs four laps later. He returned to the track on Lap 59, 17 laps off the lead lap.

Misfortune also beset Paul Menard on Lap 20.

He was unable to get his car to shift into third gear and was forced to take his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the garage for repairs.

On Lap 67, Aric Almirola and Jeb Burton got together, with Almirola’s No. 43 Ford hitting the wall. He took his car to the garage. Burton was able to continue.

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