Sunday, August 03, 2008

Live on Type Delay: Pocono II, Part Two

The track is dry and the race restarts with 67 laps to go. Kahne stays in the lead, and Hamlin stays in second. Mark Martin starts in fifth, with his usual negative attitude, and mashes the pedal and takes fourth from Kenseth within two laps. On lap 137, Paul "Daddy bought me this car" Menard and Joe Nemecheck tangle, and bring out a caution.

During the rain delay, Mark Martin seemed like he was giving up, even though he would be restarting in fifth. On both ESPN and MRN he gave the interviewers a concession speech, thanking his team for giving him such a great car, and apologizing for not getting it into Victory Lane. After the restart, though, he didn't seem as though he was giving up.

Come on let's get going before those thunderstorms get to the track.

Restart on lap 131. Nope, the caution stays out for rain. Restart on lap 132, because the rain isn't that bad. Kahne still leads. No restart, it is still sprinkling somewhere on the track. Getting the one to go again.

Hamlin is in second and Mark Martin is in third. 56 laps to go, but the restart is again delayed. The one to go signal is given again.

Stewart pitted on lap 128, which means he is good for one stop between now and the end of the race. Gordon is in the same boat. The teams that haven't pitted this cycle yet, will probably have to pit twice for fuel.

Restart with 55 to go, for real this time. Wow, the front two have taken off, and it looks like Hamlin is catching Kahne.

Before the lap is over, Montoya's engine lets go, but the race stays green.

Mark Martin has caught up with Hamlin and Kahne, and has entered the fray.

Oh man, I am cheering for Jr to hold his 9th place position against Jimmie Johnson. It is a good race, and in a wheel to wheel match up like this, I actually think Jr is the better driver. Jr does hold his position with 51 laps to go.

We are expecting green flag pit stops soon. This is going to be all about fuel strategy. There will be some dicey plays made. Most of the cars will pit around lap 160, and it will be taking a chance to try to make it to the end. Stewart and the others who took fuel on lap 128 will pit around lap 170 and will be good to the end.

Kasey Kahne takes for tires and fuel on lap 155, dropping out of the lead. Hamlin pitted as well, and Biffle takes the lead. Kurt Busch is second, Matt Kenseth third, and Scott Riggs is in fourth. Brian Vickers is in fifth. Wouldn't it make a lot of race fans mad if it rained enough to end the race now? Kurt Busch fans would be happy, though, and I would be happy to see Scott Riggs get a top five finish, but it would still be bad, because that would be what we think of as two incomplete Cup races in a row.

Carl Edwards has made his way back to the top five, and we know he is a contender to win. The other contender is Jimmie Johnson, and he is in sixth. The pit stops have begun in earnest now, so we will wait for the pit stops.

Wow, bad break for Kurt Busch. He was trying to gain distance before he pitted, and ran out of fuel going into turn three. The good news is that the entrance to the pit lane is at the end of turn three. The other bad news is his engine has stopped. The good news is that after fueling the engine restarts right away. The bad news is that the engine stalls and they have to push start the car.

That round of pit stops is over, and with 36 laps to go, Edwards leads, Tony Stewart is in second. Reid Sorenson runs out of gas. And the pit stop round part 2 begins as Kyle Busch pits.

With 34 laps to go, Edwards, Stewart, Newman, Gordon, and the others make what should be their final pit stop. After they exit, Johnson makes his final pit stop.

David Ragan holds the lead for a lap before he pits. This will be an interesting finish, because it seems like a little less than a quarter of the cars on the lead lap will make it to the finish, while the rest will either take a chance on a lucky break or stop for a gas and go before the end of the race.

Lap 169 and Jeff Burton has to take a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Meanwhile, on lap 171, Bill Elliott gets to lead a lap as pit stops continue. I bet the crowd went wild. That is cool, and I bet he is loving it. Wood Brothers does need that five bonus points.

With 26 laps to go, Kasey Kahne is back in the lead. Keep in mind that this is one of the teams taking a gamble.

Mark Martin is second, Greg Biffle is third, Hamlin fourth. Hamlin pits for fuel to get him to the end.

Scott Riggs is running sixth. Good for him. One of these days we will publish a post about why we like Scott Riggs. If we haven't already. Part of the reason is that he is one of the few of the current drivers who wasn't "given" a Cup ride. Like Mark Martin, he really had to work for it from the Busch Series. He was destined to be a career Nationwide Series driver, in other words, rather than being one of the talented and privileged who participated in that series just to keep their skills honed until their designated Cup ride was ready.

I should probably turn on the TV audio to see why they are paying so much attention to Tony Stewart, It seems that he has raced his way up to fifth place.

Biffle makes his final pit stop for tires and fuel At this point, I would guess the race for the win will be between Edwards, currently in third and Stewart in fifth, because Kenseth has to stop for fuel, and Kahne has to pit on lap 185 as well. Martin is now leading, but he will have to pit within the next four laps.

Mark Martin makes his stop on 187, giving Carl Edwards the lead, and Stewart second place. Johnson is in third. Now, MRN is saying that Edwards and Stewart might not be able to go the last twelve laps. But they pitted at 34 laps to go and that is about right for a fuel run.

No matter, the race is getting toward the jitters part now. This is the part where I start cheering for Smoke. This is the part where I say a win would be great, but if we make second, that would be pretty darn good. We know that the Toyota has been getting better mileage than the Ford's , so maybe something interesting will happen that doesn't involve bad luck for Smoke.

7 laps to go. Osborne, Edwards' crew chief is nervous. I think Carl is joking when he says "I haven't been saving (fuel) at all."

Or maybe not, he has a seven second lead over Tony Stewart. Five laps to go.

This particular Tony Stewart fan is very nervous, but that is good because it means it is a good race. Three laps to go.

Smoke is gaining a second per lap on Edwards, but it doesn't seem like enough time to catch him. Edwards is still five seconds ahead. Kyle Busch ran out of fuel, and has to pit.

One lap to go. Carl Edwards wins. I'm not going to stick around to watch him flip, though, so we will appreciate it if someone lets me know if he sprains his ankle on his landing.

Smoke finishes second, Johnson is third, Harvick is fourth and David Ragan is fifth. Great job for Harvick making up all that time after his problems early in the race. Unfortunately, Dale Jr ran out of gas on the final lap, and didn't make the top ten. He finished thirteenth.

Final thoughts:

After last week, any race would seem good. This Pennsylvania Red Cross 500 was fun. It wasn't the best race we have seen this season, but it was far from the worst.


During the red flag period, MRN radio interviewed Robert "Bootie" Barker, crew chief for the Haas-CNC #66 car of Scott Riggs. When asked if he planned any adjustments, Barker said, "I was going to ask you to make a track bar adjustment for me...the rule book says the teams can't work on the car during a red flag, but it doesn't say anything about MRN working on it."

Now that is thinking outside the box!

Barker just recently returned to duty after a six race suspension. He and Tony Stewart should get along just fine next year.


Tim Zaegel said...

Here's an interesting one for ya, Jim ... by my count, Tony Stewart now has as many 2nd place finishes since 2003 as he does wins, with 17 of each.

Tim Zaegel said...

Oh, and a good race, btw ...