Pocono Notebook: Sunday

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LONG POND, Pa. – So much for a tie atop the Winston Cup points standings.

Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon were tied with 2,695 points heading into the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, but Gordon earned 152 for finishing eighth and leading the most laps, while Jarrett got only 45 after crashing on the 151st lap.

Ricky Rudd faded late in the race and finished 11th, and though he lost points to Gordon, he moved to second in the standings. Rudd is 45 points behind as the Winston Cup Series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400 next Sunday.

Jarrett needed a provisional to start the Pennsylvania 500, but he steadily moved through the field and was in the Top 10 when the lapped car of Stacy Compton slipped off Turn 3 on Lap 151.

Ward Burton, running behind Compton, slowed, too, but Jeff Burton didn’t. Jeff hit Ward and spun him out. Kevin Lepage, running behind Jeff Burton, slowed, but Jarrett plowed into the back of Lepage.

Jarrett’s crew made repairs, but his car cut a tire after he came out of the garage and hit the Turn 3 wall. Still, Jarrett wasn’t panicking about losing so many points.

“It doesn’t change anything,” Jarrett said. “I mean we race just like we’ve been racing. You don’t do anything different. You know, when we were tied I said it was a long season, had a lot of races to go. It doesn’t matter. We’ll come back. We’ve just got to continue to race to win, and that’s what we were going to do whether we were leading or whether we were behind.”

Gordon was the dominant car for the first 150 laps, but an early pit stop and then the Jarrett crash dramatically changed the complexion of the race.

On Lap 133, Gordon was leading when he made a green-flag pit stop several laps earlier than anyone else. But on Lap 144, Kyle Petty’s car ran out of gas and stalled, bringing out a caution.

The leaders pitted under that yellow for tires and fuel, but Gordon stayed out and got the lead back. Then, on Lap 151, the brothers Burton got together.

“I didn’t get slowed down in time and hit Ward and caused the whole thing,” Jeff Burton said. “I saw the guy right in front of Ward, but I didn’t see him get slowed down that quick. I couldn’t slow down in time.”

Ward was upset, but not at his brother.

“The 92 was in the high groove, and we ran up on him and had to slow down,” Ward said. “My brother was right behind me, and we got together. Obviously it was nothing intentional on Jeff’s side. It was just one of those things in racing.”

Gordon pitted on the caution when Jarrett had problems for a second time. He changed four tires and fell to 23rd. Still, Gordon rallied to finish in the Top 10.

“You can’t just have the best car, you can’t just have the best pit stops – you’ve got to have the whole package,” Gordon said. “Unfortunately, the cautions didn’t fall the right way for us. We got behind. We weren’t the best on fuel mileage today.

“We did what we needed to do in the points race, but we wanted to win. Maybe we can take this momentum to Indianapolis.”

Another Busch: Kurt Busch turns 23 this Saturday, but if you think that’s awfully young to race, Kurt’s younger brother plans to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Indianapolis Raceway Park this weekend.

“Racing’s always been in my blood, my family,” Busch said. “My grandfather did it, my dad’s done it, now my little brother’s doing it.”

How little? Try 16. But Kurt doesn’t think that’s too young.

“I thought it was too soon for me to go into Craftsman Truck Series racing,” said Busch, who started in that series when he was 21. “But after two years in the Southwest Tour, winning the championship – it’s tough to find a heavy car: a truck-arm type car, a car that weighs 3,400 pounds. It’s tough to find experience and have the reasonable amount of money spent.”

Kyle Busch will drive Roush Racing’s No. 99 Ford – the same truck Kurt drove to the NCTS Rookie of the Year title last year.

“The Craftsman Truck Series has taken a few steps toward being more of a farm system to the Busch Series or Winston Cup Series,” Busch said. “He’s gonna be all right. He’s lacking in track experience, as far as being able to travel around and see different race tracks.

“But what a better way to learn it than actually go and do it. That’s what Jack (Roush) gave me the opportunity to do.”

Kyle’s opportunity came suddenly to Kurt, who found out about it Friday, after Roush Racing made the announcement.

“I was just told (Friday) night that he had gotten the job,” Busch said. “I was focusing on Pocono, and the shock really hit me deep. I had no idea what to say. Of course, we’ll be there next week to help him out and give him as many pointers as we can.

“It’s a tough race track to have your first race.”

Sadler on a Slide? Elliott Sadler made it to 16th in the Winston Cup points standings by running as conservatively as possible, staying out of trouble and finishing races. But early in two straight races, Sadler has encountered problems.

Last week at New Hampshire, Sadler made an unwise four-wide move underneath Joe Nemechek and got in an accident. His Wood Brothers team made repairs, but later in the race Sadler spun and hit drivers-side against the outside wall. He finished 40th.

At Pocono on Sunday, Sadler was hit from behind by Michael Waltrip and spun in Turn 3 on the second lap. He suffered light damage, and was forced to the back of the pack.

In Favor: Count Richard Childress as one of the advocates for the one-engine rule NASCAR has been contemplating. Should NASCAR implement the rule, Winston Cup teams can use only one engine all weekend, thus cutting down on costly qualifying engines.

“It’d be great,” Childress said. “We may run our qualifying motor 25 miles and go back home and spend 20 grand on it. The qualifying engine is really an expensive part of this program.”

Green Tries Triple-Duty: Anything Kevin Harvick can do, Jeff Green can do better. Or at least Green hopes so. Green will try to run three races next weekend at Indianapolis, driving in the Brickyard 400 Winston Cup race, the IROC race and the Kroger 200 Busch Series race.

Green will have a busy weekend, obviously. But since the Cup cars qualify on Saturday instead of Friday, that day’s schedule will be loaded. He practices the No. 30 Cup car at 8 a.m. for an hour, and then has Cup qualifying at 10:15. A helicopter takes him to Indianapolis Raceway Park for Busch Series practice at 11:30, and he’ll have to take the copter back to the Brickyard at 1 p.m.

Driver introductions for the IROC race are at 1:30, with the start scheduled for 2. As soon as the IROC race is over, he helicopters back to IRP for Busch Series qualifying at 3:30. Winston Cup Happy Hour will have already begun, so he’ll head back to IMS for about 30 minutes of Cup practice.

The Busch Series drivers’ meeting is at 5:30, with the race starting at 7 p.m.

“To me, there isn’t anything better than driving a race car,” Green said. “Time goes by really quickly when you are driving, so I think the day will fly by. I’m not too worried about being exhausted because I'll have plenty of time to rest on the helicopter rides.

“I know it sounds hectic, but I am certain we have it planned out really well. Kevin Harvick has done double duty several times this year without any problems, and he had to cross state lines. With that in mind, I feel that we can get back and forth across town without any bumps in the road.”

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