Pocono is as Pocono does – the same driver started and finished the race at the front. Yet Pocono had its share of interest all the same, behind winner Joey Logano.
Logano ran at the front all day after qualifying on pole, but at the last round of pit stops got beaten to the draw by veteran Mark Martin. On lap 156 0f 160, the bright orange #20 made a cheeky ‘bump and run’ pass to take the win.
The result was good news for Logano but after 400 miles at Pocono the major talking point was how 13 drivers found themselves taking penalties for speeding as they exited the pit lane.
In fact it wasn’t even the number of drivers penalised – but how many penalties they got, whic became the talking point. Travis Kvapil managed to get it wrong four times, David Reutimann three times, while Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger and Jimmie Johnson each took two hits.
The problem was that as part of the resurfacing of the track, the pit lane speed cameras were repositioned. Until this weekend the final stretch of the pit lane under scrutiny measured 56 feet, but that was increased to 83 feet and caught all these teams on the hop. Those proved to be 27 ver costly feet and, quite frankly, there are 13 crew chiefs who should have been sent to the naughty step.
Jimmie Johnson had to recover from his double penalty, and did so with aplomb. Even without the penalties it was looking like a very poor day at the office for Five Time, who almost ran out of fuel on lap 73 and was forced to pit under green flag conditions – threatening to go a lap down.In the end he rolled home in fourth place, hard on the heels of Tony Stewart.
A case of beers shuld probably be heading to David Ragan and the #34 crew however as they brought out a timely caution and Johnson gained 34 seconds on the pack!
Elsewhere the new track surface did little to spice up the Pocono action. An F1-style scrum into Turn 1 was predicted for the opening lap, but aside Denny Hamlin’s optimism causing contact with Carl Edwards all went well. At the end of the first lap Landon Cassill in the Burger King #83 lost it at Turn 3, spinning into the #56 of Martin Truex Jr who in turn sent AJ Allmendinger and Juan Pablo Montoya running for the infield.
After that it became a bit of an endurance test for drivers and spectators alike, with Earnhardt Jr among those who found themselves short on fuel. Like Johnson, Earnhardt had cause to thank an unexpected caution – in his case team mate Kasey Kahne’s #5 making an outing to the wall – for keeping him on th lead lap. Ultimately the #88 came home eighth, enough to go second in the points table.
Second behind 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth, no less. The Roush Fenway star replaces his team mate Greg Biffle at the top of the standings after Biffle suffered an engine failure. Both Kenseth and Biffle have one win apiece this season, Earnhardt remains winless since dinosaurs roamed the Earth but id one of four drivers in the top 10 yet to reach Victory Lane this season.
As for Logano, his Pocono victory takes him one place up the standings to 15th. In a season that’s brought 10 winners from 14 races so far, consistency is king. Yet while Logano the victory may mean more than what it offers in points but rather his ticket to stay aboard the #20 car after several disappointing campaigns.
And that’s that.