Pocono 400 Review: Logano Tames the Triangle

[media-credit id=43 align=”alignright” width=”268″][/media-credit]After starting on the pole on Sunday, Joey Logano claimed his second Cup win in 125 starts. The Joe Gibbs Driver broke a 104 race win-less streak to become the youngest driver to win at Pocono, at 22 years and seven days old. This is crew chief Jason Ratcliff’s first Cup win of his career and the No. 20 team became the 10th different winner of 2012.

“You work so hard to do this, and them teaming me up with Jason has been an awesome experience,” Logano said. “We’ve been growing together a lot lately and able to make our cars better. To get a victory, it meant so much, and pulling the Home Depot car into victory lane at a Sprint Cup race and winning it the right way was just an amazing, amazing feeling that you can’t replicate and you can’t explain what it means.”

 

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Earnhardt Oh So Close to Victory

Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his Cup-best 11th top-10 finish of 2012, taking over second in points. Earnhardt led 36 laps on the 2.5 mile track and looked as if he would break the 4 year win-less drought looming over his head.

The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet was leading with 35 laps remaining when a caution flag flew, leaving his crew chief Steve Letarte with a tough decision to make. If the race went green from that point on, Earnhardt would have been about five laps short on fuel. With this information, the team pitted twice in the remaining 35 laps to guarantee they would make it on fuel.

“We had a really, really good car,” Earnhardt said. “That was fun. That was the funnest car I’ve had all year and the best car I’ve had at Pocono in a long, long time. So, I’m just really trying not to be too upset about it because we did a lot of good things today and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Although the team did make it on fuel, Earnhardt’s domination throughout the race ended with an eighth place finish. Earnhardt now resides in second position in standings, just 10 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

 

Controversy Over Pit Road Penalties

The talk of the race surrounded the outstanding amount of infractions that occurred on pit road. There were 22 speeding penalties, the most in documented infraction history since 2006. Travis Kvapil was penalized four times for speeding on exit; David Reutimann was penalized three times – two for exiting and one entering; Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger were each penalized twice.

Many drivers blamed the scoring timers on pit road for the speeding penalties. However, according to NASCAR’s vice president of competition, the problem was with the drivers.

“This track’s gone under a lot of reconfiguration since last year,” Robin Pemberton said after the race. “It’s a brand new pit road, all brand new loops, positions have been changed since last year. Sections were smaller than they were last year throughout pit road and, actually, the last section is a little bit bigger.”

Brad Keselowski, who finished in 18th position after the penalties, had a different opinion on the infractions.

“It was obvious that the section had some kind of issue because I know both times I got busted I was under the limit with my tools that I have available,” said Keselowski. “I was consistent down pit road, so if I was speeding in that sector, I would have been speeding in the others — but it didn’t show that. I think there’s plenty of evidence to show that there is something wrong with that section timing.”

Johnson, who fell back to 22nd after the penalties, rebounded to finish in fourth position.

 

Quicken Loans 400 Predictions

[media-credit name=”NASCAR.com” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]This weekend we head to Michigan International Speedway and all eyes will be on the No. 88 team where they captured their first and only point’s win for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. After dominating most of the race at Pocono and finishing in the top 10 for the 11th time this season, expectations are high for the Cup veteran. Along with his win four years ago at this track, Earnhardt has four top-5 and eight top-10 finishes at Michigan and is looking to drive to victory lane once again.

Denny Hamlin is another driver who knows how to get the job done at MIS. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has two wins at this track, with five top-5 and seven top-10 finishes. Hamlin is currently fourth in Cup standings and has two wins so far this season.

Kevin Harvick is another driver to keep an eye on, with one win in 2010 and seven top 10 finishes. Harvick resides in sixth position in points, 53 points behind the leader. The Richard Childress Racing driver has yet to win a race this season, but has been very consistent with three top-5 and seven top-10 finishes.

Carl Edwards is itching to get his first win of the season, and MIS may be the track that he drives to victory lane at. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has impressive stats here, with two wins, nine top-5 and 12 top-10 finishes. Edwards is also looking to break into the top 10 in points, sitting in 11th position, 100 points behind leader and teammate Kenseth.

 

All quotes via NASCAR.com.

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