Pocono Race Recap

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The Key Moment – Tony Stewart’s crew got him off pit road first after the fourth caution flag. The fifth caution just after the restart sealed the deal.


In a Nutshell – Another great reason for NASCAR to adopt a green/white/checkered rule in Winston Cup just as they have in the truck series.

Dramatic Moment – Waiting to see if Dale Jarrett and Kenny Schrader got of their respective burning cars.

For awhile it seemed Martin was closing in Stewart, but the 20 was just too strong.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Can Stewart make up the 540 point lead Matt Kenseth has on him or is it too late for him to have a chance at repeating as champion?

Is Rick Hendrick now paying a bounty on other race cars? The way Gordon and Labonte are driving lately it would seem that way.

Bill Davis and Dodge got divorced so what was that car Ward Burton drove to an eighth place finish? A Plymouth? A Camry?

Can we move Pocono to the head of the list for installation of the SAFER barrier? Apparently a car is still going to get pretty torn up hitting those earthen berms.

Do we really need to know the degree of bladder urgency a race winner is feeling?

Think Johnsonville Bratwurst should sponsor the first turn at Pocono? If you don’t turn em, you burn em.

Nobody ever believed FOX could beat the Chris Meyers-Mechanical Bull skit as far as sheer pointlessness and stupidity in a pre-race show, but the two guys in a hot tub with Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” playing in the background lowered the bar still further. Their mothers have got to be so proud.

Has anyone investigated a possible link between the hot air mass emanating from Darrell Waltrip and the rash of stormy weather that seems to be trailing the Winston Cup tour this year? Two more races and he’s done until 2004, right?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Jeff Green had a great top 10 run going but got wrecked out on the final lap of green flag racing.

Mike Skinner was in position to finish on the lead lap for the first time this season but he was spun by Greg Biffle on the final lap.

Coming into this weekend Dale Jarrett had eleven top 5 finishes in the last twelve Pocono races. Make that eleven out of thirteen. DJ apparently cut down a tire while running in the top 5, wrecked hard and had his car explode into flames. For those keeping score at home that’s four DNF’s in the last five races for the 88 team. (Three wrecks and one engine.)And you don’t want to burn your right hand two weeks prior to the Sonoma road course race.

Home town hero Jimmy Spencer had a good run going battling in or around the top 10 when he tore up the rear end leaving the pits.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

It’s hard to consider wrecking a car and finishing dead last good luck, but the fact Kenny Schrader was able to climb out of his car uninjured after a savage lap 7 wreck is good luck indeed.

Matt Kenseth overcame running out of gas and a suspect clutch to finish third.

Sterling Marlin overcame a flat tire early in the event to finish sixth. And Jeff Gordon neglected to wreck him.

While a thirteenth place finish isn’t all that good, Jeff Gordon looked like he was going to have an even worse day when he cut down a tire on lap two and almost lost a lap.

Worth Noting

Sunday’s race was the first win for Tony Stewart since Watkins Glen last August.

Bobby Labonte continues to have the most top 5 finishes this season with eight (his streak of five straight top 3 finishes ended Sunday) but Dale Earnhardt Jr. is catching up with seven top 5s to date this season. Points leader Matt Kenseth has six such finishes.

So how come Kenseth is leading Earnhardt and Labonte? Because Kenseth has twelve top 10 finishes in fourteen points races run to date. He scored top 10 finishes in the last five races.

Sterling Marlin’s sixth place finish matches his best of this season. Marlin has now finished sixth three times this year.

Rusty Wallace’s sixteenth place finish was his worst outing in the last six races. In the previous five races he had finished no worse than twelfth.

Todd Bodine’s eleventh place finish matches his best of the season. (Texas) That deafening silence you hear is Kerry Earnhardt not cheering the accomplishment.

Jeremy Mayfield’s fifteenth place finish was his best since finishing eighth in the Daytona 500.

That’s the fifth time this year a race has ended under caution or the red flag.

Joint: slang. a. A cheap or disreputable gathering place

What’s the Points?

Matt Kenseth retains the points lead for an eleventh straight week and adds five points to his margin over Dale Earnhardt Jr. (The gap is now 176 points.) Positions 1-9 remain the same.

One driver entered the top 10 this week, Sterling Marlin who is now tenth. Obviously one driver had to fall out of the top 10 to make way for Marlin. Robby Gordon fell from tenth to fifteenth.

This weeks big droppers were Robby Gordon and Joe Nemechek both of whom fell five spots. As mentioned above Gordon is now fifteenth. Nemechek falls to eighteenth. Two drivers lost three spots a piece; Jamie McMurray (now 24th) and Dale Jarrett. (Now 27th. After winning at Rockingham twelve races ago, DJ was second, so he’s losing almost two positions a week on average. Medic!)

This week’s big gainers include Ward Burton (up five spots to twentieth) Mark Martin (up four spots to eleventh) and Tony Stewart (up three spots to lucky number thirteen.)

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Three cans of the generic stuff. A decidedly ordinary race that might have had an interesting finish had the race not ended under caution.

Next Up – The circuit rolls onto Michigan, which incidentally rhymes with “oh, not this again.”

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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