Parks Race Reactions: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono
When a track is so big, and the action for a strong majority of the race is so slow, it's easy to call a race boring, lame, and exhausting.
Of course, then the final laps come in and one's opinion changes.
That's certainly the case today as the Pocono Raceway held a typical Pocono race. A long period of green-flag racing, lots of strategy, and of course some criticism came into play.
But, in the end, it was a feel-good story that took the headlines when the checkered flag fell.
So now, here are my race reactions from the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.
I would like to first give my opinion on the track. I have long said that Pocono is quite possibly my least favorite track that doesn't use a restrictor plate. It's not because of the racing, nor the location. It's simply not safe.
The wreck involving Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler is just another frightening example of why.
I have seen a lot of wrecks in the sport, but I thought the most violent hit I saw at a track was Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas in 2008.
Busch's slide and hit of both walls was bad, but it was nothing to what Sadler had to endure. Hitting that inside guardrail at probably at least 170 MPH did the most damage I've seen at the Sprint Cup in years.
Look at the damage it did. The front suspension was pushed back to the firewall and the engine was torn completely out of the car.
Sadler was definitely in pain and it's a testament to these cars that he even got out. There's no question that if the old car was used, he'd be life-flighted from the track.
Bottom line, Pocono officials will make changes for next year, but it's too little, too late for Sadler. He'll have two lasting memories from his weekend at Pocono. First will be the happiness he felt after winning the Truck race on Saturday. The second will be the pain he'll feel from his wreck on Sunday.
Now, onto the other action on the track. These days, it's extremely hard to tell what is the right call for a crew chief to make late in the race.
Unfortunately, it all seems to be revolving around Steve Letarte and the No. 24 car of Jeff Gordon. Personally, I thought four tires was the right call if it weren't for the rain that arrived.
Look at this, he restarted in 11th and was one of the fastest cars on track. He would end the race in the sixth position.
But, when they pitted, there was 30 laps to go, and it quite possibly would've been the best call of the race.
However, the rain and the red flag took away eight laps of racing. Had those eight laps been run, when the tires were completely fresh, Gordon had a legitimate shot at passing all those cars.
Once again, it is another race where the DuPont team will have to wonder what might have been.
Finally, at the end of the day, it was all about Jack Roush, Ford, and Greg Biffle.
We all talked about the accident that put Roush in the hospital earlier this week, and we all know he's in good spirits.
On Sunday, somehow a Roush driver found a way to get a victory, not just for him, but for the Ford Motor Company.
The last time Ford saw a checkered flag was at Talladega last fall. As close as the entire Ford Racing camp has been all year, they just couldn't put an entire race together.
Even today, Biffle, at the beginning of the race was not happy at all with his car. At one point he and crew chief Greg Irwin were arguing on the radio over how to fix it.
Then, when it came down to crunch time, Biffle and crew made the big call. It would be two tires that gave him the outside lane for the restart, opposite Sam Hornish Jr.
At that point, once he got the lead, he showed the muscle his Ford Fusion had.
His words to his team rang loud and clear. "This one's for Jack," and it is quite possibly the best medicine the entire organization could have. I'm sure Roush himself is in his hospital room grinning ear-to-ear, wishing he could have been there to celebrate.
There's going to be people that say it just happened to be a Roush car going to victory lane after he got hurt, but I don't believe that. Biffle and team made a good call and made the car handle when it mattered most.
He wasn't the best car all afternoon, but at the end of the day, the No. 16 car was the one getting the Coca-Cola shower.
That's what it is all about at the end of the day.
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