So the evil little tricky triangle- the place that holds the spot as being the first points paying win for Stewart-Haas racing. Tony qualified fairly well- even holding the pole position for awhile but as usually happens with early qualifying draws he was knocked off the pole eventually. He still started avery respectable 6th for the days race. I turned on the race that morning. Then came the rain. I get very restless during rain delays so I honestly don’t know how the drivers can NOT. It poured for what looked like a good 15-20 minutes. Then it would take time to dry the track (and patch a small hole apparently- but I missed that part completely).
I found the best way to spend a rain delay though! It’s across the street at my brother’s house playing with my nephews. Ok technically only MXM is old enough for play…which we did both inside and out (that boy loves to play with his plastic lawn mower- I say enjoy it now because I doubt he will want to mow when he’s old enough to do the real thing). But I did get JXM (who is now 15 weeks old or so) to laugh pretty hard- and who doesn’t love toothless, gummy baby laughs? That rocked. But then it was back to the race.
Tony spent most of the race in between positions 12 and 21. It did get exciting when pit stops came under caution at around lap 160. Crew chief Darian Grubb called Tony in and they packed the number 14 full of fuel, planning on staying out no matter what happened to gain track position. Of course I wasn’t listening to my Trackpass Scanner at this time so I had no idea what they were planning. When there was another caution on lap 169- a lot of the cars in front of Tony (who was 16th or 17th at this time) came in to pack their cars with fuel. This put Tony into second place behind Kurt Busch. I always get nervous when the national broadcast shows Tony puttering around under caution flipping his car on and off. Even before they said it I am exclaimed “look- he’s saving fuel! Arg this could get ugly if this race ends up going to three green-white-checkers!!!”
The field took off at the green and it was looking good for Tony. He was second! Then…right before the last lap there was the Harvick-Logano tangle that caused Logano to spin and put the field into it’s first Green-White-Checker. Not to mention that this bunched the field back up. So now not only did I have to worry about the fuel situation (don’t you love how I say I have to worry about it…like I am the one on top of the pit box crunching numbers…or even know what numbers to crunch…trust me- you don’t want me crunching numbers). I now also have to worry about Tony getting shuffled back or someone driving like an idiot to get to the front and crashing into Tony. I was very much on the edge of my seat. Denny Hamlin jumped out into the lead and Tony was second with Kyle Busch on his tail. Tony would eventually be passed by Busch but still came in third despite a horrendous last lap crash (no further green-white-checker since race leader had taken the white flag) happening that seemed to collect about half the field.
With his third place finish Tony moved up to 13th in the points standings, one point out of the top 12 chase. Teammate Ryan Newman, who crossed the finish line with a damaged car- having been part of that last lap melee finished 14th, dropping him to 14th in the standings, only 18 points out of the top 12.
Notes and Pictures from Pocono:
- TNT race coverage bites. They were having sound difficulties. That might have been due to the rain I guess. But I have two major complaints about their coverage. Complaint one: their timing of commercial breaks sucks. I hate coming back from commercial to see cars in the pits. I say break AFTER green flag pit stops not before. I know they know about when the drivers will be coming in- pay attention to that. Complaint number 2: the handling of the last lap accident. That was a pretty horrendous looking accident. There were damaged cars ALL over that track. Several drivers look HARD hits in that wreck! TNT, while they showed the wreck several times did not update us on driver conditions except for Kasey Kahne. And while yeah- Kasey appeared to take one of the harder hits there were other drivers there…I mean I saw a paramedic leaned into Jeff Gordon’s window and then they never said ANYTHING about his condition. They did happen to catch a brief glimpse of Jeff Gordon walking past Kasey during his post race interview but if you happened to be looking down you would have missed that.
- One of my favorite moments from the race? Was seeing Ryan Newman limp his car across the start-finish line. NOT because I wish any ill will against Ryan at all- but because he had the gusto to fight hard to pull that beat-up car across the start finish! Go Ryan!
- In his after race comments Tony said that “There’s days like today where you’re not proud of how you got there, but you take it anyway because you know for every one you get like this, there’s one that gets robbed from you the same way” (credit team release). I don’t know why you wouldn’t be proud of it. Sure he didn’t come in first but he came in top 5. Fuel mileage is just as much a part of the “game” as anything else. Be proud Tony! Darian did good calling you in and you saved enough fuel. YEY.
- Speaking of NASCAR being a game…I am loving the NASCAR “everything else is just a game” ads. LOVE THEM. Especially this one.
- I am sure by now you have all heard about the post race fireworks between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick. Judging by what I saw on the TV- the accident was nobody’s fault. To me it looked like Joey got a little loose and came down the track across Kevin’s nose. The pushing and shoving thing? Sure it adds to excitement and it’s all in the heat of the moment. Joey may have been pushing on his own team guys (and his dad) but that is just youth. I would rather see this then Joey go out on the track and hunt down Kevin and try to put him in the wall (ala Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski). These things happen, drivers need to push/shove/yell get it out of their system and move on. I don’t think that insulting Kevin through his wife Delana was necessarily called for…but again-that was probably youth talking. And what a great sound bite…and Delana has turned it into a shirt (I wear the firesuit in my family). I kind of want one…but it wouldn’t really work for me since I am not married. I still LOVE the shirt idea. UPDATED: You too can have a I Wear The Firesuit In My Family shirt.
- Am I the only one who thought Carl Edwards absconded away with Mark Martin’s car? I mean the paint scheme on that 99 car looked like something you would see on Mark’s car.
Did Carl steal Mark Martin's car?? Carl Edwards sports a different paint scheme at Pocono. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure
- Speaking of drivers stealing from each other…are Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart sharing sunglasses? Ok probably not- but still I want to point out that they were wearing the same Oakleys. Ok I might be pointing this out only to be able to showcase some photos provided to me. So what. Case in point:
Pay attention to Kasey Kahne's Oakley sunglasses here. Photo credit: Glenn Bure
The same sunglasses Kasey was wearing! They look better on Tony IMO. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure
Gratuitous Martin Truex Jr Picture for Lauren! Photo taken at Pocono Driver Intros. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure
- Speaking of photos, reader and commenter @KevinMBoots77 was at the Pocono race (his first time at the tricky triangle) and had a great time despite getting a little soggy. He agreed to let me direct you all to his Pocono photo gallery for the race. I highly suggest you all check it out- he got some great pictures.
- Ok you all talked me into it. One more gratuitous picture…this time for me. It’s Tony during driver intros of course:
I couldn't help it...he's kind of smiling and everything. Photo Credit: Glenn Bure
A big thanks goes to Glenn Bure for the photos you see here (I have some more from Glenn of Tony on Trackside I will share later this week)…and to Kevin Boots for sharing his pictures with me and with you!
Next week: Michigan