Race Review: Pocono 500

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Pocono 500Today’s race review is the 14th race of the season, the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. Qualifying was rained out on Friday, so the field was set by owner points. That put 14 Tony Stewart on the Pole and 24 Jeff Gordon starting second. However, Tony crashed his car in the first practice on Saturday and will start the race last, in a back-up car. That will put 48 Jimmy Johnson on the pole. 7 Robby Gordon was in the Baha 500 on Saturday, leaving Travis Kvapil to practice the car. He won the race, by the way. But will start the Pocono 500 from the rear. 09 is Sterling Marlin. 51 is Dexter Bean. 36 is Patrick Carpentier. He’s a road-racer of sorts, and Pocono is almost a road course. Pocono Raceway is a triangle with three different corners. It’s not really an oval. But it’s not really a road course, either. Some call it a “roval”.

So, here we go. There is trouble for 11 Denny Hamlin right at the start. There’s a puff of smoke and he has no power. Denny pulls the car out of everyone’s way, but the first caution comes out because he has stopped on the track and can’t get going. The track truck comes out and pushes him to the pits. A couple of cars pit during this caution. 24 Jeff Gordon is leading.

NASCAR listened to the fans and they decided they wanted double-file restarts, like they had in the All-Star race. So, starting this week, all restarts will be double-file. With the leaders battling each other and the lapped cars battling each other. It’s a bit comfusing about the line-up because the lead lap cars pit first, followed by the lapped cars the next lap. They will line up behind the lead-lap cars by how they came out of the pits. Not necessarily by position on the track. If any cars stay out instead of pitting to put themselves ahead of the leader, these cars will be given the go-around by the pace car with one to go and they will take their place on the tail end of the lead lap. And any Lucky Dog will be behind everyone else.

Back to racing. 83 Brian Vickers dives low to try to get by. 48 Johnson takes the lead. 83 and 99 Carl Edwards battle. 2 Kurt Busch and 24 battle for second. 39 Ryan Newman and 24 battle for third. 16 Greg Biffle pushes 39 past 24 and then follows 39 by. The second caution came out during the commercial. 11 is again being pushed off the track. Denny was fastest in final practice. 9 Kasey Kahne is in the pits with the hood up. The throttle hung up. Six cars did not pit.

48 is the leader and chooses the outside lane to restart. 5 Mark Martin and 16 battle. And they are four-wide! 83 and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya battle. 14 gets by 07 Casey Mears, 42 and 83. 16 gets by 17 Matt Kenseth for second. 99 Carl Edwards is up to fourth. 31 Jeff Burton slides back to seventh, from third. 14 is up to twelfth. 11 is back out of the garage, 22 laps down. 9 is up to twentyth after histhrottle problem was resolved. 17 gets loose and 17 and 99 almost get together.

16 is catching the leader 48. 14 gets by team mate 39 for tenth. 48 gets loose and 16 takes the lead. 48 takes the lead back. 99 and 16 battle with 48 for the lead. 99 takes the lead. 00 David Reutimann and 83 get by 39. 31 heads for the pits to start Green Flag Pitting. 51 Bean hits the committment cone, comming into the pits and knocks it out of the way. 55 Michael Waltrip doesn’t see any committment cone and spins into the pits.

5 Mark Martin takes the lead when 99 pits. 2 Kurt Busch leads when 5 pits. When all the pitting is over, 99 is back in the lead. 39 led a lap. 2 gets by 18 Kyle Busch for eighth. 14 gets by 18 for ninth. 17 starts another round of Green Flag pitting and many followed him in. 14 Stewart takes the lead. 14 pits and 99 is back in the lead. 39 is having engine issues. “Like there’s water in it”, he says. 99 didn’t get both cans of fuel in, and will be short on gas. Larry McReynolds declares he will have to make an “extry stop”.!?

31 pits. 48 heads to the pits as the second caution comes out. They make their pit stop even though pit road is closed, and he over-shoots his pit stall. The caution was for debris in the tunnel turn. 96 Bobby Labonte is the Lucky Dog. 39 was too fast exiting. 48 goes back into the pits. 18, 24 and 00 are three-wide for eighth. 12 David Stremme gets into the wall, and the fourth caution comes out for debris. 99 is leading and chooses the outside for the restart. 17 and 14 get by 99. 17 takes the lead. 99 gets second back from 14. 48 gets by 00 for seventh. 2 pits with water  blasting out of the over-flow.

31 again starts Green Flag pitting. 39 leads, then pits. 26 Jamie McMurray leads, then pits. 19 Elliot Sadler leads, then pits. 07 takes the lead as the only car still not having pitted. 99 takes the lead and 07 pits. 2 is back out after a water pump issue. The fifth caution comes out with 43 to go for debris. 55 Michael Waltrip is the Lucky Dog. 16 has no brakes. Rain is coming, so 24 stays out to lead. But sunshine is back out, so he pits. 14 Stewart came out of the pits first, to lead. The cars that went back in to top off their fuel will fall behind everyone else.

They go Green with 35 laps to go. 39 and 00 get by 5. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. gets by 5. 5 pits. 16 makes a pit stop. 18 is pitting. 17 and 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pit. 9 pits. 31 gets by 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. for tenth. They are playing a fuel mileage game, and the leaders are all slowing down. 48 gets by 99 for second. 99 gets back by 48. 48 runs out of fuel and finishes seventh instead of third.

And 14 Tony Stewart, in his own car, wins the Pocono 500. Tony won the non-points All-Star race last month. This is his first points win as an owner/driver. He remains at he top in the points. Kyle Busch, who won the Nationwide race on Saturday against all the amateurs,(and smashed his Gibson guitar Trophy) finishes 22nd and falls three spots in the points. I guess he can’t beat the Pros, like he can the little guys.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

Have a good week.

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