Jeff Gordon won the rain-shortened Pocono 500 - his fourth win on the 07 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, fourth win at Pocono, and 79th career win on the
series. More pix in the Photo Gallery at the end of this page...
Gordon Snares Pocono Win with Pit Strategy
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
LONG POND, PA (June 10, 2007) — With Sunday’s Pocono 500 red-flagged for rain after 106 laps, Jeff Gordon was looking at clouds more intently than he ever had.
Brilliant pit strategy propelled the NASCAR Nextel Cup points leader to his fourth victory of the season and 79th of his career after the clouds opened up and the event at Pocono Raceway was called at 7:35 p.m. ET, six laps past the halfway point.
The red-flag period lasted 34 minutes, as track crews at the 2.5-mile speedway attempted in vain to dry the asphalt in time to restart the race before darkness fell.
“I’ve never looked at clouds as hard as I am now, trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” Gordon said during the stoppage, hoping for more rain.
For the second straight race, polesitter Ryan Newman took second. Newman was on the verge of passing Gordon on Lap 104 when NASCAR called the final caution, then stopped the race two laps later.
Martin Truex Jr., last week’s race winner at Dover, was third, followed by Casey Mears and Tony Stewart. Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer completed the top 10.
Gordon fought brake problems all afternoon and could have run only eight more green-flag laps before pitting for fuel.
“We had a great car,” he said. “We just needed track position.”
Crew chief Steve Letarte took care of that problem by keeping Gordon on the track when the seven cars ahead of him in the running order came to the pits for fuel and/or tires on Lap 65.
Gordon and Mears, who also stayed out on Lap 65 under a caution for debris in Turn 3, had to pit for tires and fuel on Lap 82, and with rain approaching from the northeast, Gordon ran hard to the halfway point and rocketed back to the front as the cars ahead of him were forced to refuel.
When Gordon pitted from the lead on Lap 82, polesitter Ryan Newman assumed the point, but with rain starting to sprinkle the Tunnel Turn, Newman had to pit for gas on Lap 95. Carl Edwards inherited the lead through the cycle of pit stops but had stop for fuel on Lap 98, handing Gordon the top spot.
As the race reached Lap 100, the rain began to fall in earnest. “It’s raining on the back like a mother — rain, rain, rain,” Gordon’s teammate Jimmie Johnson radioed to his crew on Lap 103.
One lap later NASCAR slowed the race, after Newman had erased a deficit of more than two seconds and powered his No. 12 Dodge beside Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet moments before the caution flag flew on Lap 104.
“Yes, we were fortunate, lucky — whatever you want to call it — that the rain came when it did,” Gordon said. “Steve made a gutsy, great call based on the radar. He was watching the radar all day. It was risky, but it really worked out pretty awesome.
“On the one side, I feel guilty for taking this win. On the other side, Steve made a great call, and everyone else had the opportunity to make the same call.”
Newman had no ill feelings about NASCAR’s timing in calling the race.
“It rained on me the lap before that, and when I came around the next time, it rained even harder,” Newman said. “It’s all about safety. Obviously, we were four feet short, but there was no controversy.”
Truex felt he could have won the race if it had stayed under green for another 10 minutes or so.
“I think with five or 10 more laps, we had a shot at the win,” said Truex, who notched his first Cup victory in last Monday’s rain-delayed race at Dover. “I was catching Newman. Them guys (Gordon’s team), they tried to get an advantage, and they got lucky. That’s just the way it is.”
Complete race results and point standings in the Related News section below...
Checkered Flag Fast Facts
Practice: Friday, June 8 (SPEED at 1 p.m./AT, Noon/ET)
Qualifying: Friday, June 8 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m./AT, 3:30 p.m./ET)
Practice: Saturday, June 9 (SPEED at 11 a.m./AT, 10 a.m./ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 9 (SPEED at 6:30 p.m./AT, 5:30 p.m./ET)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 10 (SPEED at Noon/AT, 11 a.m./ET)
Countdown to Green: Sunday, June 10 (TNT at 2:30 p.m./AT, 1:30 p.m./ET)
Race: Sunday, June 10 (TNT at 3 p.m./AT, 2 p.m./ET)
- Jeff Gordon won the rain-delayed Pocono 500, his 79th victory in 487 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
- This is his fourth victory and 12th top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is his fourth victory and 20th top-10 finish in 29 races at Pocono Raceway.
- Ryan Newman (second) posted sixth top-10 in 2007. It is his fifth top-10 in 11 races at Pocono.
- Martin Truex Jr., (third) posted his fifth top-10 of 2007 and his second in three Pocono races.
- Jeff Gordon continues to lead the 2007 point standings. He has led the point standings since Bristol and
is now 242 points ahead of Matt Kenseth.
- This is the fifth shortened race at Pocono. The 106 laps run today is the least run in the shortened races.
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Pocono 500
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Sunday, June 10
The Time: 3 p.m./AT, 2 p.m./ET
TV: TNT, 2 p.m./AT, 1 p.m./ET
Track Layout: 2.5-mile triangle
Distance: 200 laps/500 miles
2006 Winner: Denny Hamlin
2006 Pole: Denny Hamlin
Pocono Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (local/ET time): Friday—Practice, 12-1:30 p.m.; Qualifying – 3:40 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 10-10:45 a.m.; Final Practice, 11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Standings: click here
- Ryan Newman won the Bud Pole for the Pocono 500 with a lap of 52.922 seconds, 170.062 mph. This is
his 41st Bud Pole 202 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his fourth top-10 start in 2007 – all Bud Poles.
- This is Newman’s second Bud Pole and fourth front-row start in 11 races at Pocono Raceway.
- Newman became the second driver this season to post three consecutive Bud Poles. Jeff Gordon posted
three-in-a-row from Phoenix through Richmond. This is the third time in his career that Newman has
scored three (or more) consecutive Bud Poles. He had three in-a-row in 2003 and four in 2004.
- Denny Hamlin posted a lap of 53.167 seconds, 169.278 mph to join Newman on the front row. It is his
third consecutive front-row start in three races at Pocono.
- Martin Truex, Jr. (third) posted his fourth top-10 start in 2007. The week after scoring his first career
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory, Truex posted his career-best qualifying effort.
- Kyle Busch (fourth) scored his season-best qualifying effort and his fourth top-10 in 2007. Busch has
started from the top-10 in each of his past three races at Pocono. He started 28th and 38th in his first two
- Brian Vickers (ninth) was the fastest of the drivers required to qualify on time.
- Chad McCumbee will start 35th for his first career NASCAR NEXTLE Cup race. He will be the 58th
driver to compete on NASCAR premier circuit this season.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include Michael Waltrip; Kenny Wallace; Jeremy Mayfield; Kevin Lepage; Dale Jarrett; and Mike Bliss.
- The complete starting lineup is posted in the Related News section below...
Green Flag Notes...
Photo Gallery - Sunday, June 10
- Denny Hamlin’s (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) sweep last year at Pocono Raceway was nothing short of astounding. In his first
visit to the unique tri-oval, Hamlin won the Bud Pole and calmly maneuvered through the field after suffering a blown tire
while in the lead. Hamlin fell to the back of the pack on Lap 50 because of the mishap, but regained the lead again on Lap 103.
The second race felt more like a calm Sunday stroll for Hamlin, leading 151 laps of the 200-lap race. In that race, Hamlin
scored a Driver Rating of 149.0, a point below a maximum rating of 150.0. “I think it was just that I was blessed with a great
car as soon as we unloaded,” Hamlin said of his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points win. “Ever since then it’s just been a place I’ve felt really comfortable running. It took about two laps before I realized, the first time I was there, that it was a race track that I really loved and that we were going to run well there.”
- Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/ Havoline Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings by five points over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford). Paul Menard (No. 15 Menard’s Chevrolet) remains third despite missing the race at Dover. David Reutimann (No. 00 Burger King Toyota) is fourth followed by A.J. Allmendinger (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota).
- TNT will broadcast Sunday’s Pocono 500, the first of six telecasts this season. The network takes over for FOX which
broadcast the first 14 races this season. TNT will telecast the next six races, including the prestigious Pepsi 400 at
Daytona International Speedway on July 7. The cable network concludes its broadcasts at Chicagoland Speedway on July 15.
Bill Weber will be the host of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series coverage on the network. He will be joined in the broadcast booth by
Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty. Matt Yocum and Marty Snider will anchor pit road coverage. Petty will step out of his No. 45 Dodge for five of the six TNT races to join Weber and Dallenbach in the broadcast booth. He will be back in his car at Infineon Raceway on June 24, and will help call the action from behind the wheel.
- Johnny Sauter (No. 70 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) continues to have a strong-hold on the 35th position in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup owner points which guarantees him a starting spot in Sunday’s race.
Despite a 32nd-place finish at Dover, the Gene Haas-owned team retained the final guaranteed starting spot. The No. 10 Dodge
owned by Jim Rocco and driven by Scott Riggs is 36th in owner points, 86 points behind Sauter. Bill Elliott, who was tabbed to drive the Wood Brothers-owned No. 21 Ford in mid-May has qualified for both races he has attempted without using one of his six past champions provisionals.
- With his win at Dover International Speedway this past Monday, Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) became the
second first-time winner in as many weeks. Over the past four races, Truex has climbed from 20th in the standings to 13th –
the highest he has been since February 2006. More important for Truex, he is only eight points behind Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet) for the 12th, and final, position in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. If Truex ascends into the top 12, he will start the Chase with 10 bonus points because of his win.
Jeff Gordon leads en route to the Pocono 500 win...
Second-place finisher Ryan Newman makes a pit stop...
Jeff Gordon (right) and crew chief Steve Letarte look to the skies watching the weather that would determine the success of their day...
News of the race being called came to Gordon as he stood on pit road during the red flag rain delay...
A makeshift Victory Lane under cover from the rain was utilized for post-race celebrations...
Photo Gallery - Friday, June 8
Ryan Newman won his fourth Bud Pole on the 07 season...
Tony Stewart takes a break during practice...
Crew chief Doug Richert (left) talks with driver Brian Vickers during Friday practice' the duo will start ninith - the fastest
of the go-or-go-home cars...
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.
© Copyright - CheckersToWreckers.com - All Rights Reserved.
Best viewed with Internet Explorer - 800x600 resolution.