By admin | June 10, 2012
By Richard Allen
Everyone knew the recently repaved Pocono Raceway would be faster than ever before but what no one foresaw was that the greatest speed increases would take place on pit road. Time after time during the early phases of the Pocono 400 on Sunday afternoon drivers were caught speeding during their pit stops.
Needless to say, those who were penalized were not pleased. Drivers and crew chiefs protested vehemently into their team radios regarding the unexpected situation.
In all, twenty-two speeding penalties were handed down by NASCAR to a total of thirteen drivers throughout the day. The vast majority of those penalties occurred in the final segment of pit road.
Not surprisingly, virtually every driver and crew chief disagreed with their penalty when it was called.
“Dude, I was 200(RPMs) under,” Brad Keselowski said after he was hit with the first of his two speeding penalties. “Tell (NASCAR race director David) Hoots he’s got his lines messed up because I didn’t speed and half the field didn’t speed either.”
Kevin Harvick was even more adamant after he was nabbed for being too fast on the exit of pit road. “There’s no way that was us,” he insisted. “If that’s us we’re way off. They’ve got something f***ed up because I wasn’t even close.”
Harvick went on to state his belief that NASCAR should rectify the situation. “They need to stop the race and give everybody their spots back,” he told his crew.
Like Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson was hit with speeding penalties on multiple occasions. Crew chief Chad Knaus eventually warned his driver to be extra cautious in the segment of pit road most responsible for the issues. But at the same, he also believed the fault for the problems lay with NASCAR and not the teams being caught. “You’ve just got to be really conservative from first pit box out to the last scoring line,” he told Johnson over the team radio. “Everything else is perfect which means we’re not wrong.”
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton did not share Knaus’s viewpoint. His belief was that after the repave and the change in the timing loops on pit road the teams did not make the proper adjustments. “This track’s gone under a lot of reconfiguration since last year,” he said after the race. “It’s a brand new pit road, all brand new loops, positions have been changed since last year. Sections were smaller than they were last year throughout pit road and, actually, the last section is a little bit bigger.”
Drivers are always looking to take advantage of the timing segments on pit road by speeding up and slowing down at certain points to beat others onto the tracks. With passing so difficult on the track, positions made up on pit road can mean the difference in a good day and a bad day. On this occasion, it would seem as though a change caught some teams off guard.
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