Racingone Rewind: Pocono

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    A look back at Jeff Gordon's 79th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win in Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway including news, notes and observations by the RacingOne staff.

    Inside Line
    After rain delayed the start of the event by nearly three hours, it was a race to halfway for the NEXTEL Cup competitors as another shower closed in on the Pocono’s. Rain finally began to fall four laps after the event became official, just as Ryan Newman pulled alongside Jeff Gordon.

    Keys to Victory Lane
    Steve Letarte called Jeff Gordon in for a green-flag pit stop while leading on lap 82 - while most of his competitors elected to stay out and wait for rain. The lead cycled back to Gordon when the other contenders had to pit just shy of the halfway mark. Gordon regained the lead on lap 99, and held on until rain began to fall on lap 104.

    Zero to Hero
    Mark Martin started 34th. He moved up to run in contention, lead a lap and finished seventh. Martin missed his pit during caution flag stops on lap 51 that cost him track position.

    Hero to Zero
    Jimmie Johnson cut down a tire and made a trip to the garage. He finished 42nd and fell from second to fourth in the NEXTEL Cup Series points.

    Rookie of the Race
    Juan Pablo Montoya finished 20th, six positions ahead of David Ragan. Montoya, making his first visit to Pocono, ran as high as third during the final round of green flag pit stops.

    Notables
    Denny Hamlin had the car to beat through much of the event. Seeking his third Pocono victory in his third start on the unique tri-oval, he led the opening 25 laps. He led five times for a race-high 49 laps. He finished sixth, one position behind Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart, who shadowed him throughout much of the early going.







    Pocono 500 Loop Data Leaders
  • Average Running Position: Tony Stewart - 3.6
  • Fastest Early In a Run: Martin Truex Jr. - 162.987 mph
  • Fastest Late In a Run: Jeff Gordon - 159.775 mph
  • Fastest in Turn 1: Denny Hamlin - 147.247 mph
  • Fastest in Turn 2: Denny Hamlin - 152.734 mph
  • Fastest in Turn 3: Ryan Newman - 145.561 mph
  • Fastest Laps Run: Denny Hamlin - 19
  • Fastest on Restarts: Denny Hamlin - 161.906 mph
  • Most Passes During Green Flag Conditions: Jeff Green - 85

    Pit Stops
  • Jeff Gordon captured his 79th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win in his 487th start. The victory was also his fourth at Pocono. Detailed Active Driver Wins
  • Gordon won the 159th race for car owner Rick Hendrick. Detailed Active Car Owner Wins
  • Gordon became the first driver to win at Pocono from the 18th starting spot. He also became the 15th driver overall to win a race from that position. Starting Position Facts
  • Gordon led two times for 26 laps. Lap Summary
  • Gordon won the 13th race of the season for Chevrolet. It was also the 609th overall win for the manufacturer. All-Time Manufacturer Wins
  • Ryan Newman recorded his second consecutive runner-up finish and third top five this season.
  • Martin Truex Jr. lowered his average finish this season to 18.1 with his third place result.
  • Casey Mears has jumped from 35th to 23rd in the NEXTEL Cup standings in the last three races with finishes of first, 13th and fourth respectively.
  • Tony Stewart recorded his fourth consecutive top-10 finish at Pocono Raceway.
  • Denny Hamlin's average finish at Pocono increased to 2.7 with his sixth-place finish.
  • Mark Martin scored his seventh top-10 finish in his 11 starts this season.
  • Kyle Busch's eighth place result was his best finish at Pocono since his fourth in June, 2005.
  • Matt Kenseth continued his streak of 13 consecutive top-15 finishes.
  • Clint Bowyer recorded his first top-10 finish at Pocono Raceway in three visits.
  • The 106-lap race saw 15 lead changes among eight drivers and an average speed of 135.608 mph.
  • Four caution flags were thrown for 10 laps.
  • The Pocono 500 lasted 1 hours, 57 minutes, 15 seconds.

    Lug Nuts
  • It's cool when strategy and crew chiefs play a role in wins from time-to-time, but we're a little bit overdosed the last few weeks. How about some real racing please?
  • Martin Truex, Jr. looks like he's growing comfortably into that leadership role at DEI, doesn't he?
  • Kurt Busch may just as well been suspended for Sunday's race, since he was a non-factor anyway.
  • No sponsor, no Greg Biffle at Roush next year.
  • Penske and RCR now talking about adding more cars to the stable next year, which will make Fridays even more stressful in 2008 if NASCAR doesn't change the Top 35 rule.
  • Not sure why NASCAR waited as long as they did to finally call the race because there was no way with rain and dark around the track things could have restarted. It cost TNT at least two episodes of "Law and Order."

    Garage Talk
  • "If it had been (Dale Earnhardt) Junior, we would have an issue. I was hoping they'd throw stuff at me so they could call the race for that reason. Any thing that showered down on this track today would have been fine by me. We've definitely had some dramatic wins this year, for sure." Jeff Gordon on the timing of the final caution
  • "We've won this way and we've lost this way. I won my first race this way, so I can't complain about any part of it. The lap before the caution I got the rain on the back straightaway, so I knew it was going to be raining harder yet. Jeff didn't get it so he checked ujp and I got a good run at him." Ryan Newman on the timing of the final caution
  • "It was a strange race, but I think we did all right. Winning the ARCA race on Saturday gave me a lot of confidence, and I think we did what we set out to do in our first Cup race." Chad McCumbee, after finishing 25th in his NEXTEL Cup Series debut, subbing for TNT commentator Kyle Petty.
  • "We've had good pit stops all year when we were running like a dog, and today we were running pretty good, and got caught up in the pits." Ricky Rudd, who was up to second but finished 27th.
  • "I took this place for granted a little bit. I thought I could fall in and be ready to go, but this place is a lot harder than I thought. I should have brought an old ARCA car or played on some video game back home." David Ragan, who finished 26th

    RacingOne Rating
    On a scale of one to ten bride's bouquets from the land of honeymoons, we'll give Sunday's Pocono 400 a six. Rain really screwed things up and we once again had a strategy-filled affair, short on real racing. But there was some excitement in that chess match at the end and we won't complain about a race not 500 miles long at Pocono, quite frankly how they all should be. But after Wednesday's "Prelude to a Dream," we were ready for some real racing. Hopefully it'll be on display next weekend in Michigan.

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