By admin | June 8, 2008
By Richard Allen
Reports of Pocono’s demise were premature. This past week was somewhat of a take your best shot at Pocono Raceway free for all by numerous members of the media(this site included), drivers and even owners of other tracks. However, despite all the predictions of what was to be a terrible, boring race, the Pennsylvania track staged a good show.
Although the finish was not a door slamming, side by side battle, the race to the finish contained plenty of intrigue. Kasey Kahne took the win which made three checkered flags in the last four tries, counting the All Star Race, for the Washington driver. The events that led to him getting there were pretty dramatic.
Differing fuel and pit stop strategies played a big role in the Pocono 500. Much like road course racing, some teams bypassed the opportunity to pit under caution only to come down pit road just a few laps after the green flag was displayed in order to get themselves inside their fuel window for the final run to the finish.
Also, virtually every one of the 10 caution flag periods saw a new leader emerge as some cars received gas only while others took two tires and the rest got four tires. This in turn led to some slicing and dicing through the field by the drivers with the best tires while those with older tires hoped to hang on to their track position until the next round of stops.
One problem still remains all too evident, be it at Pocono or almost any other track. The leader, in almost every instance, was able to pull away to a commanding lead. Clean air is still the best of situations. That is nothing new to NASCAR, whether it be with the Car of Tomorrow or the old car.
Something else that played a major factor in the outcome of the race was pit road mistakes and penalties. No doubt, the need for that all important clean air was the cause of the numerous snafus on the pit lane. Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne were all victims of mistakes, which proved costly to each of these drivers except for Kahne.
Accidents took their toll as well. Chase for the Championship hopefuls Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Juan Pablo Montoya each crashed during the event along with point standings leader Kyle Busch, who saw his lead diminish to 21 points over Jeff Burton.
And more, Michael Waltrip’s crash may well have put his team outside the Top 35 in owner points when the official standings are released later this week.
So, for all the gloom and doom of the early part of the week Pocono Raceway did not fare too badly at all. The Pocono 500 turned out to be an intriguing, although long, race with enough twists and turns to keep the interest level up throughout most of the event.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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