Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA., the fourteenth race of the season. This massive 2.5 mile “tricky triangle” has three different turns and three different length straightaways. It is called a “roval” because it is an oval (sorta) that drives like a road course. This year they made the gear different so that they can shift in the corners again. Changes were made to the track so that cars won’t be able to fly into the trees and barriers are up where Elliott Sadler smashed into a dirt barrier last time.
22 Kurt Busch sits on the Pole after qualifying on Friday with a speed of 171.579 mph and 52.454 seconds around the track. This is his second Pole in a row. 27 Paul Menard is beside him on the front row. 11 Denny Hamlin and 24 Jeff Gordon have four wins here. Can either of them win their fifth? 16 Greg Biffle won the race last August. Can he make it two in a row?
Changes were made to the track after Kasey Kahne went flying almost into the trees and Elliott Sadler hit a dirt barrier, smashing his car. There is now a catch fence for the trees and safer barriers around the track. There was rain at Pocono and the drivers haven’t been out on the track since qualifying on Friday. There will be a competition caution on Lap 20 to chech the tire wear. Rain is in the forecast. 200 Laps is 500 miles.
So, here we go! 22 leads from the pole. 11 gets by 27 for second and then takes the lead from 22. 29 Kevin Harvick runs 18 Kyle Busch down the track to get by and they battle back and forth for position. 48 Jimmie Johnson drives under 33 Clint Bowyer. 27 drives inside 22 for second. The first caution comes out for debris in Turn 1. Drivers may pit under this caution but they may not take fuel until the competition caution. 11 and 27 battle for the lead. 14 Tony Stewart makes it three wide. 43 A. J. Allmendinger gets stuck in the middle and falls back. 29 and 18 race each other cleanly.
The second caution comes out on Lap 18 again for debris. This will be the competition caution and they all come in for tires and fuel. 7 Scott Wimmer stays out to lead a lap before pitting. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya takes two tires to come out of the pits first with 2 Brad Keselowski. 11 takes the lead. 99 Carl Edwards drives under 2. 24 and 27 race for position and 24 takes the spot. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. drives around 83 Brian Vickers. 27, 18 and 31 Jeff Burton race together. 99 drives around 88. 24, 2 and 83 are three wide.
(This race is the first of the Summer races televised by TNT. They have Race Buddy that you can access on your computer during the race. So that I was able to see racing during the commercials. I wasn’t sure what position they were racing for, but I have recorded the racing that was going on. I like Race Buddy.)
29 drives under 83. 39 Ryan Newman drives under 18. 29 makes a pit stop. They didn’t get enough fuel. 99 drives under 22. 48 drives around 88. 48 leads and Green Flag Pitting starts. After the pitting, 11 is back in the lead. 88 drives under 2. 4 Kasey Kahne and 88 get by 29. 88 and 48 drive under 4. (Mark Martin has the most second place finishes here with no wins-six of them!) 99 pits, gets the hood up, and backs up to the garage. Something broke in the engine. 22 drives around 24 and 24 gets back by 22. 29 pits again. 31 drives under 16 Greg Biffle. And there is another round of Green Flag Pitting. 48 has trouble in the pits. 42 drives under 1 Jamie McMurray. 42 leads. 2 has a vibration and pits again. 33 drives under 9 Marcos Ambrose. 31 is stuck on an access road. 1 is smoking and heads for the garage. 16 smacks the wall. (There seems to be a lot of pitting as well as racing going on.)
The third caution is for debris. 43 A. J. Allmendinger is the first Lucky Dog of the day and gets back onto the lead lap. (It’s getting dark on part of the track.) 42 again takes two tires and comes out first. 11 gets a flat tire after the valve stem came off. 48 pushes 24 into the lead. 16 spins and slides onto pit road, no caution. 24 takes the lead. 14, 42 and 29 start another round of Green Flag Pitting. 11 has lost most of his brakes. 51 Landon Cassill leads. 24 drives under 51 for the lead. So, 51 pits. 39 is smoking. 29 is catching 42. 42 and 29 race side by side with 29 driving under 42 for the spot. 88 drives under 42. 99 comes back on the track to finish the race and gain a few spots.
And 24 Jeff Gordon wins the 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono Raceway. This was his 84th win tying him for third place in all-time wins with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. He wins his fifth race here and his second of the year. There were eight different leaders. 11 Hamlin led the most laps. After the race 18 failed the height requirement and penalties are possible. (Possible? I thought that was a given. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday.)
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.