Unlike his first win that was shrouded in the rain clouds of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2009, this weekend belonged entirely to Joey Logano. This time he took the lead in the Pocono 400 presented by #Nascar with three laps remaining and took the checkerd flag .997 seconds ahead of perenial Pocono runner-up, Mark Martin for the second Sprint Cup victory of his career.
Logano has been on the hot seat all season for his poor showing in Sprint Cup, and was rumored to be on the on the way out at Joe Gibbs Racing, at the end of the season. This is the last year on his current contract and speculation had Kurt Busch or other expierenced drivers getting the #20 Home Depot ride in 2013. As he got out of his car in Victory Lane, he was quoted as saying “I hope this shuts em all up”.
After setting the fastest of many qualifying laps on Saturday, Joey Logano put his Toyota on the pole for Sunday’s race, and was the first in the last 31 Sprint Cup races, to win from the pole position. He led the race four times for a total of 49 of the 160 laps, the most important being the last three.
On the final restart at lap 153, Mark Martin took the lead with an aggressive move to the outside in turn 1, but got what he said was a bump and run from Logano with 3 laps to go. He said it was not a move I would execute for a win, and said he would have returned the favor if he had been able to catch him on the long straights. Logano said he was more worried about getting delayed with Martin, and letting the #14 catch up.
With success in Cup competition coming more and more difficult, Logano has had just the opposite outcome in the Nationwide Series, where he has won three of the last four races, and four on the season.
When asked about his Nationwide success, he said, “Not to take anything away from that, those Nationwide wins are a lot of fun, but I think Jason(Ratcliff) knows when you’re racing against the best race car drivers with the best race teams out there, and to be able to beat them is – it’s, to me, the best of the best out here.”
With his win, Joey Logano moved up two positions and in a tie with Ryan Newman for 14th and 125 points behind new leader Matt Kenseth. He is now in Wild Card contention with that all important win.
Points leader Greg Biffle had some engine problems on his 3M Ford late in the race and finished 24th. This dropped him to third in the points, and put Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth in the lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr. moving up to second.
Dale Jr. had led for 10 laps early in the race, but after Kasey Kahne hit the wall on lap 37, he came to pit road for a load of Sunoco fuel while others stayed out. He restarted 16th, and had only worked his way back to eighth by the time Logano took the Checkered flag.
The newly paved racetrack was fast, but as pointed out by TNT Announcer Larry McReynolds in the pre-race show, most of the passing would be on pit road. He could have not been more accurate, as there were a record 13 penalties for speeding on pit road.
It seems, the drivers were confused by the timimg marks that Nascar uses to monitor speed on pit road. The problem actually turned out to be the relationship of the transponder(an electronic device used for Nascar’s timing loop) and the nose of the car. The drivers were hitting the gas when they got to the mark, and by the time the transponder went past the mark, they were actually speeding.
Jeff Gordon, who needed a win badly, was caught in the pit road speed trap three times, and finished 19th.
Kasey Kahne’s streak of top ten’s ended Sunday as he hit the wall in turn 2, and finished 29th, dropping two places in the standing to 16th and outside of the wild card consideration
I found this to be a pretty good race. Every time they had a restart, the race into turn one was exciting. There was passing on the track, and we had a lot of 4 and 5 wide racing at times on the straight a ways. The new paving job, and paring the race down to 400 miles made it very watchable, and it ended when it should have.
I also enjoyed the Twitter Feed during the race. Sometimes at the Watering Hole, I can see the race, but can’t always hear it. The Twitter feed allowed me to find out what was going on, at times that I couldn’t actually hear the broadcast. I think other sporting events need to look into this real time approach.
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Photo’s Courtesy Getty Images For Nascar
Tags: Dale Earnhardt Jr Greg Biffle Jeff Gordon Joe Gibbs Racing Joey Logano Kasey Kahne Kevin Harvick Kurt Busch Mark Martin Matt Kenseth NASCAR NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ryan Newman Tony Stewart Twitter