Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little less Thunder on the Mountain

For years drivers and many fans have been complaining that the two Pocono races were too long, at 500 miles. On the often hot and humid days up on the mountain, the extra distance took a physical toll on drivers and on equipment with its three unique turns and long front straightaway. As for the fans, sometimes it's hard to think about going and sitting out in the heat and humidity for what was often times in excess of four hours. So it was announced Wednesday the races starting next year will be 400 miles.
The pure racing fans probably won't like the move to the shorter distance. The extra miles are suppose to tell us who is the best driver and who has the best car. But with the Car of Tomorrow, that often doesn't tell us who is going to win the race anyway as these cars are hard to pass in traffic. These days it's all about track position and fuel strategy at the end, it doesn't matter if its 400 or 500 miles.

Looking ahead
With bits and pieces of the 2012 schedule known, here's how the Dover-Pocono schedule is shaping up. Dover's first race will be June 3 and then it will be to Pocono the next weekend, June 10. Then the Sprint Cuppers return to Pocono on Aug. 5 and their final time in the area will be at Dover Sept. 30.

Thunder on the Mountain
Thunder on the Mountain is a Bob Dylan song, but maybe the good people at Pocono Raceway should use that as their marketing theme for two reasons: 1) Simply the loudness of the cars as they rumble down the long straightaway. 2) It seems like you can almost count on some type of afternoon thundershower up there in these summer months to delay things for a while, like the 1 hour, 40 minute delay we had Sunday.

Helpers and hurters
The final 19 laps at Pocono Sunday brought about some changes in the points standings.
First, Joey Logano, who had been in contention to win much of the day, fell from the top 10 and finished 26th. Second, Denny Hamlin, who was also in contention to win much of the day, faded late and finished 15th. Gibbs Racing teammates Logano and Hamlin combined to lead 109 laps. Hamlin's faded coincided with Tony Stewart's charge from 20th to 11th in those final laps, meaning Stewart remained ninth in the points standings, one ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. The two wild-card spots based on the wins by drivers who are 11th-20th in the points go to winner Brad Keselowski, who has two wins this season, and Hamlin, who has one, but is 11th the overall standings.
Until next time.

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