Now that the checkered flag has fallen on the Pocono 400 by #NASCAR from Pocono it is time to breakdown the action we just watched. Here in our recap we’ll go over some key statistics, observations from the race, and review how Greg and Mike’s picks fared. More in depth analysis of the picks will be made on the Wednesday podcast.
The win was Joey Logano’s 1st of the season and 2nd of his career in 125 career starts
Logano’s win was also his first top five and top ten of 2012
Logano’s win also put him as the youngest winner at Pocono at 22 years and 17 days old
Logano’s win also included a career-high 49 laps led in the event
Matt Kenseth leads the points by 10 over Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
That was Joey Logano’s 4th career pole, first since Pocono last July
Mark Martin’s second place finish added to his career leading 34th career top 10 at Pocono
It also marked Martin’s 5th top ten finish of 2012
Tony Stewart finished 3rd and got his 19th top ten finish in 27 starts at Pocono
50 laps into the event and there were a TON of speeding penalties by a wide variety of cars. A ton is defined as 16, 14 speeding on exit and two speeding on entrance. We finished the race with 22 penalties for speeding. The explanation we were given, as the TV audience, was adjustments in the timing lines due to the repave. For the August race they will be moved back to the “normal” locations. This race though, it’s very hard to believe that so many teams seemed baffled by the scoring lines. To their credit, the teams did get smarter as there was only four more penalties in the last 150 laps. Still something needs to be double checked as to what is going on.
I’m not sold 100% on this whole Twitter push, I feel like once NASCAR really gets their claws into it, we might have the whole system change for the worse. On the flip side, if they truly embrace the Twitter concept like they have, the coverage on our sport would be unparalleled. So basically, it’s a fine line they’re going to be walking for the rest of the year.
I’m torn on AJ Allmendinger as this was supposed to be his year. For once he was paired with a top notch team and was going to excel, because on paper it just worked. A driver with an open wheel background going to a team with a rich open wheel background, what’s not to like? Granted they’re not racing open wheel, but you think it’d be a good mesh. Instead he has had a very disappointing season and Pocono was no different. Involved in an opening late incident he lost his brakes and eventual got the outside wall, shaking him up, and ending his day. The problem I have is an “average” driver in Aric Almirola took over for Allmendinger at Richard Petty Motorsports and is putting on a similar performance AJ did last year for that team. Makes you think, maybe Allmendinger isn’t as good as we think (or hope).
Contact with Denny Hamlin led to a late race touch of the wall for Kasey Kahne. This is of note because it ended his top ten finish streak and was a back step for his points bid. The great part is he has a win and this was just one race.
Great questioning by Marty Snyder in victory lane, had some good questions for Joey Logano. Props to Joey Logano as well for answering the questions honestly and with emotion. Great to see him acknowledge his first win under the rain in 2009 wasn’t a “real” win by many. For one race, Logano proved he deserves to be in the #20 car. Wait until Michigan next week, he could easily go from hero to zero.
Awkward post race interview with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., he missed the opening, had Ralph Sheheen start over. Then answered very oddly and just kind of cut out. Junior never seems to disappoint in interviews, he always acts surprised like “what is going on?”
Matt Kenseth overtook Greg Biffle for the points lead, actually Biffle slipped to 3rd behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Biffle has been sliding back for the last couple of races, so it was only time before Kenseth got ahead of him. Biffle needs to turn things around or else Kenseth, Earnhardt, and others will continue to bury him. Biffle finished 24th, Kenseth was 7th, and Earnhardt was 8th today.
Kyle Busch also dropped in the standings, went down 3 spots after yet another engine issues ended his day early. He currently sits 12th in points, but he does have a win in his pocket, thus he still is in the Chase via the wildcard position. Ryan Newman currently holds down the other wildcard position, with Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne vying for that position.
Today was Stacy Compton’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since 2003. He made it 24 whole laps before a bad transmission took him out, or so we’re told. This is a parking team funding a Camping World Truck Series team. It’s a shame he has to go out there and not show if he has anything else, but dem da brakes.
Does Hendrick Motorsports keep the streak alive? They were unable to but still offered a strong run by all the teams. Jimmie Johnson led the way in 4th place and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was a strong 8th. Junior, along with Jeff Gordon (19th) and Kasey Kahne (29th) should have finished a lot higher, as they raced up high most of the race. Junior was between fifth and first from laps 20 to 130 before pit strategy bit him. Gordon got behind the eight ball with a speeding penalty down pit road, as did Johnson, then was back in the top 10 before dropping back due to pit strategy. Kahne was knocking on the door in the top five before contact with Denny Hamlin cut his tire and ended his day. Nothing they can do but lick their wounds and go to Michigan.
How does Tony Stewart rebound? Stewart responded in a big way, coming home in third place when it was all said and done. While he did not lead a lap, unlike the HMS boys pit strategy helped him get into the thick of things at the end of the race. Had Mark Martin and Joey Logano faltered, Smoke was right there to pounce. It was a great follow up to two consecutive down weekends.
Can we tie the 1978 record of one caution? No we could not, in the end there were 7 cautions for 35 laps. There were four thrown for accidents and three thrown for debris. It got particularly dicey at the end as two cautions with 22 laps to go allowed the leaders to stretch the fuel and drivers who didn’t bank on the cautions got stuck in the back. If anything this shows that NASCAR doesn’t favor Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as a caution sealed his fate with only a top ten performance.
Will the TNT coverage wow us? While I wasn’t wow’d out there, it was a step in the right direction. I talk about it in tomorrow’s Stock Watch segment, but TNT always offers us a breath of fresh air between FOX and ESPN’s coverage. It’s so great to watch a race without hearing Darrell or Michael Waltrip constantly babbling about something. The booth, pit reports, and Larry McReynolds were solid as always. The bottom line is it was a good change of pace, but wasn’t anything too special. Plus they were dealt Pocono of all places to open with, that’s always an interesting race to cover, even with 100 less miles.
Who will be NASCAR’s villain while Kurt Busch is on vacation? No real dust ups during the race nor sarcastic responses from drivers during the post-race makes you really think, maybe we need Kurt Busch? No…the answer is no. What Kurt should realize is that the world kept turning in Pocono Raceway without him and will continue to go whether he is there or not. While he does make things interesting, at the same time he doesn’t carry himself as a former Sprint Cup Series champion and maybe a more extended time out is the cure.
Can Mark Martin best Harry Gant’s record of oldest winner (50 years, 5 months, 7 days in 1990)? Martin came very close to besting Gant’s 12 year old mark by finishing second to winner Joey Logano. Martin got Logano on a restart and led laps 153-156 before bobbling in turn three and giving it up to Logano. It goes to show that Martin has a lot left in the tank, albeit not for a full season, but he is still a wheelman in his own right. If anyone wins for Michael Waltrip Racing this year, it will be Martin.
Which Jeff will be snake bitten this weekend, Gordon or Burton? I’m going with a push in this one. Both drivers got speeding penalties and finished in the top 20 (15th for Burton, 19th for Gordon). The speeding penalties don’t really count since everyone and their grandmother got one out there today. I think it was an average day for two average drivers, although Gordon showed signs of more until the end. Looking over Burton’s day, he was no better than 10th place all day, so 15th was about all he hand in the tank.
Will 100 less miles make the race better? The race was shorter which made for, what I would consider, more urgency in the racing throughout the race. It’s amazing that 40 laps make that much of a difference between holding back and going all out. In the end the dreaded fuel mileage was mentioned, so I guess not everything is immune at Pocono with 100 less miles.
Who gets a chance in the #51 Chevrolet this weekend? After Kurt Busch was suspended for this weekend’s events there was a shuffle between a couple of underfunded teams. David Reutimann strapped himself in to the #51 Chevrolet, stepping away from his Tommy Baldwin Racing ride for this weekending. Reutimann kept the car clean and came home in 21st place, which is exactly what this team needed. Just to have a race without losing an engine or getting into an accident. In his place, Dave Blaney slide over to the #10 car and finished in 25th place, and Tony Raines got a shot in the #36 car finishing in 32nd place.
Can Joe Nemechek tie Morgan Shepherd for most DNF’s all-time at Pocono? Success! Joe Nemechek you tied yourself a record! Coming home in 37th place he parked after completing 30 laps because of brakes. He sustained damage in the carnage last weekend at Dover with the early wreck, so he was parking all day. He can break his tie in just a few weeks when the series comes back to Pocono in early August.
Winner picks for the Pocono 400 by #NASCAR:
Jimmie Johnson – 4th Mark Martin – 2nd
Carl Edwards – 11th Denny Hamlin – 5th
Kasey Kahne – 29th Ryan Newman – 12th
Start ‘N’ Park picks for the Pocono 400 by #NASCAR:
Michael McDowell – 34th Joe Nemechek – 37th
Champion’s trophy winner: Josh Wise – 42nd, 12 laps, out because of “brakes”
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