Pocono 500: Winners and Losers

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Pocono 500: Winners and Losers
(Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Another wet weekend which cancelled qualifying, eliminating a needed practice on Friday. NASCAR spent most of the weekend explaining, describing the new double-file restart. See how it all shook out at the tricky triangle in the Pocono Mountains.

 

Winners

Tony Stewart

We knew this was going to happen at some point, but Pocono historically has not been Stewart's best track. But nothing for Stewart in 2009 has been the norm. It took a major fuel gamble to win this race, but you win them the way you can.

Stewart, who has been up or at the front in nearly every race this season, had to start from the back after a crash in practice forced them to a backup car, they quickly moved forward taking the lead and running away from the field.

Stewart conserved in every way he could from coasting, to turning the engine on and off to save fuel.

This is such a huge win for this bunch, with many of the crewman holdovers from the former Haas Automation has never been to victory circle.

Congrats to Stewart and crew as they win their first race as SHR.

Points: First

 

Carl Edwards

Everyone has been wondering why Edwards hasn’t won a race this year. After dominating last season, Edwards has been searching for whatever they have been missing in 2009. Pocono came at perfect time for this team.

They ran up front all day long. Edwards had what was numerous times described as a perfect race car. They short pitted all day long working the race backwards.

Edwards needed this finish even if it wasn’t a win after struggling early on this season, as strong finish could be the exactly what this team needs to go to Victory Lane soon.

They finished a well earned second.

Edwards has been struggling but they coasted to a good finish.

Points: Sixth

 

Marcos Ambrose

As I was watching the race I kept double checking to see if Ambrose was on the lead lap, but that he was. Surprisingly he ran there throughout the day.

They stayed on top of the car all day long conserved fuel and found their best finish of 2009 in sixth.

This team continues to surprise me. They weren’t really talked about as a true contender, but they have quietly put together a great first 14 races.

Ambrose likes panning for gold, he might just find himself in Victory Lane this year.

Points: 18th

 

Casey Mears

Last week Mears was in my lucky dog position. This week, Mears is on my winners list. Mears had a strong car all weekend long. Something we have not seen from this team all year long. Mears and his team worked on their car and stayed on top of the adjustments.

They were able to finish a strong 14th, a strong and well needed run. Mears seemed to have benefited from Richard Childress switching crew chiefs with Kevin Harvick. He recently has seen improvement of equipment and their finishes are showing that.

While Harvick has continued to free fall, Mears has been moving up the standings within the last month.

Points: 21st

 

Jeff Gordon

Well it started off good, and then it got worse, and then it got better. Gordon didn’t have the best car out there all day, but this team is showing resiliency. Gordon complained all day long that he was too tight.

They couldn’t get all three corners hooked up but not many did. They gambled on staying out during a caution hoping a rain shower would put them up front for good.  Unfortunately for Gordon he was forced to pit with one to go to the green.

The move proved to pay off as some were forced to pit they had just enough fuel to secure another top five finish with a fourth.

This was a good finish for a team that in the last couple weeks have been struggling they showed they are able to rebound after a tough finish last week.

They may be struggling but this team is still very consistent each week at the track.

Points: Second

 

Losers

Joe Gibbs Racing

Denny Hamlin didn’t even hit the start finish line when the green flag waved and electrical problems ended their day. They finished 38th.

They can’t seem to bite the bad luck. They haven’t won since last March, and if they want to be a championship contender they have to find a way to persevere through the rough patches.

Hamlin and crew chief need to get on the same page and fast or their chase chances will disappear.

Points: 12th

Kyle Busch, who won last night in Nashville never saw the front of the field. He struggled all day long with handling issues and fought to battle back. They didn’t win the fuel mileage battle and finished a disappointing 22nd place.

The difference between last year and this year is last year they dominated, this year they are streaky and that may not win them a championship.

Points: Ninth

Joey Logano had never seen Pocono coming into this weekend. One less practice on Friday, Logano won the ARCA race on Saturday, and getting two practices in on Saturday. His inexperience at this track hurt him on Sunday.

They struggled all day long and saw their strings of top 15 finishes come to end on Sunday with a 23rd.

They were never a factor, but a good sign is Logano can apply what he learned here today for when they come back in early August.

Points: 25th

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Well the honeymoon is over, and that was fast. They looked good early in the weekend during practice. But unlike last week, weren't unable to translate that on Sunday. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t run much better than they did.

Unlike his teammates, who are able to rebound most of the time when they struggle, Earnhardt is unable to do that and that and that usually ends their day. They really need to turn this around even though the Chase is out of question; they still need to compete better.

Who you going to blame for today’s poor finish of 27th?

Points 20th

 

Lucky Dog…

Michael Waltrip had a great finish of 17th today. He ran well within the top 20 all day long and was able to work on the car to make it better; something this team hasn’t done well this year.

Points: 32nd

 

Regan Smith is perfect! In every race he has entered and qualified for, Smith has finished. To bring their car back to the shop in one piece every time they run is key to building a program and not having to replace cars.

Points: 38th

 

Sam Hornish Jr. looks like the light is on for this guy. He has some great runs in recent weeks and is showing some great improvement let’s hope his 10th-place finish is a sign of bigger things to come.

Points: 23rd

 

Final Lap…

We immediately saw how double-file restarts would work. For some guys it helped them, for others it hurt them.

It will take more than one race to get the hang of it and figure out all the quirks. But the race was fun and enjoyable to watch.

The leader wasn’t pulling away before the field hit the start-finish line and there were some great battles throughout the pack and that was refreshing to see.

I was so excited to see Stewart pull off the victory; in a short amount of time they took a organization that struggled to make races and contend just a year ago to victory circle.

It’s fun when a team wins for the first time whether it is a driver or crew members. They are like kids again, jumping and screaming and enjoying the moment. That’s what racing is all about!

See you in Michigan!!

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