High speeds dominated the week's storylines at the recently resurfaced Pocono Raceway—both on the track as 36 drivers broke the previous pole speed record, and on pit road as NASCAR's finest set a record for most pit road speeding penalties in a single event.
In an odd mix of speed and not speed, Jimmie Johnson was slow in qualifying, got busted twice on pit road for speeding, but fought his way back to a top-five finish. However, he's not one of this week's drivers on the move. If not Double J, then who could be, you wonder? Keep on reading.
Up: Joey Logano
After all his frustrations over the past few years, Logano finally put it all together at Pocono last weekend. The fourth-year driver was consistently fast, in practice (leading Happy Hour), qualifying (winning the pole) and during the race (leading the most laps for the first time in his Cup career). He topped it all off with a bump-and-run move, not often seen at the 2.5-mile Pocono Tricky Triangle, on Mark Martin no less. I'm not convinced Logano has turned any corner, proverbial or otherwise, but winning his first non-rain-shortened race in impressively dominant fashion is a giant step in the right direction.
Down: Greg Biffle
For the first time in over two months, we have a new points leader. And that means Greg Biffle had a bad race at Pocono. In fact, with his 24th place finish, last on the lead lap, the Biff fell from the top spot to third in the standings. That's what one top-10 in the past four races will do to you.
Up: Mark Martin
Martin had struggled over his last few starts, but he turned things around on Sunday with a near-winning performance. He finished second for the seventh time at Pocono, just one slight bobble away from his first victory at the track. It was a welcome performance for the No. 55 team, which went top-10-less in the month of May.
Down: Kyle Busch
A blown motor for the second week in a row has Busch outside the top 10 in points. He's currently occupying the first Wild Card Chase spot, thanks to his victory at Richmond in April. I think Busch will be fine, as bad luck doesn't last forever (unless your name is Jeff Gordon), and Busch has shown plenty of speed and also new-found maturity this year. It certainly could be worse (see Busch: the elder).
Up: Pit road speeding penalties
As previously mentioned, Pocono set a record for most pit road speeding violations during Sunday's race. All the penalties took place in the final timing segment, and the issue appeared to be drivers taking off according to last year's pit road timing segment map. Apparently some teams (LOTS of teams, actually) didn't do their homework when given the new information by NASCAR during the week. Officials helpfully reissued maps of the timing segments during the race, solving the issue by the race's midpoint.
Down: Kasey Kahne
Kasey Kahne had a bad-fast race car on Sunday but became a victim of his own aggressive driving. The No. 5 blew a tire and slammed the wall hard after getting into Denny Hamlin late in the race while marching into the top five. Kahne was knocked back a couple of positions in the standings to 16th, but as long as this doesn't turn into a stretch of bad luck like Ol' Blue Eyes experienced at the beginning of the season, Kahne will be fine and has an excellent shot to make the Chase.
Up: Pocono Raceway
I know, we saw yet another fuel-mileage race at Pocono. But this one was hardly a snoozer. Arguably the best car won (sat on the pole, led the most laps) and there was a great pass for the lead with just a few laps remaining. Resurfacing the track seemed to work out just fine and shortening the race to 400 miles kept the race interesting and avoided any super-long green flag runs. This writer gives a thumbs-up to the new and improved Pocono Raceway experience!
Down and out? Kurt Busch
Busch was parked for the weekend by NASCAR. 'Nuf said.