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Race Day: Speeders Could Join Track In Weeping

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 3 2009
Tony Stewart will be out the smoke the field for the second time this season at Pocono today. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tony Stewart will be out the smoke the field for the second time this season at Pocono today. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

The guess here is that teams and drivers in today’s weeper-delayed Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway will be paying a bit more attention to their speeds on pit road. Especially those wanting to, say, win.

The Juan Pablo Montoya situation of last week at Indianapolis was one of the top topics in the garages at Pocono this week. For obvious reasons. He got caught speeding late at Indy and it cost him the victory – he had the lead and the fastest car when it happened – and did him no favors in his pursuit of the first Chase berth of his career.

Others on the track today will  most certainly be mindful of the situation today.

Here is what select drivers had to say about speeding on pit road in NASCAR:

Jeff Gordon, when asked why better in-car speed-monitoring devices have not been installed:

“That’s a great question. I think it’s a little easier than that, even. In every other form of motorsports you come to pit road and you hit a button and it regulates the rpm and the mph and you just sit there at that rpm. And I don’t understand why we don’t have that, with all the technology that we have at our fingertips. I think the concern is it’s a wheel speed sensor and then you get into traction control and some of that. So that’s probably the downside to it. But we’ve gotten our tachs a lot better now and we’re able to read it pretty close.”

Jimmie Johnson, when asked his assessment of the system currently used to gauge speed:

“NASCAR gives us a 5 mile-an-hour tolerance and basically the teams just adjust to that 5 miles an hour. Instead of fit being 50, it is 55. We all shoot for 54 mph, 54.5, somewhere around in there. You try to get as much as you can. If you think of the distance of pit road, that small 1/10th of a mph can add up to a second or so, if not more, depending on the length of pit road. It is an important part of what we do.

“I know it is a hot topic and I was thinking about this over the week, a way to eliminate any questions about pit road, in my opinion, would be to provide a channel like they do with timing a scoring for all the crews to have on their pit box to watch and it is live as it takes place, a name pops up in red or however the system works, everybody can see it at the same time. Because right now there is a question that’s in the tower and no one else has access to it. You get printouts after the fact, it just leaves room for people to have concerns or to draw up some questions. I think their system works. Those timing loops work great, it is simple it is electronic. Make a channel for everybody to look at, have one in here for you guys to look at and you can watch during the race and somebody pops up in red, to pit road they go for a pass through.”

Montoya, finally, was asked about his comfort level this week on pit road.

“Yeah, we’ve done it from the beginning of the year and it always worked. I think 90 percent of the teams use this same tach that we use. So it’s okay. I’m good with it and we’ve just got to keep doing the same thing and it’s worked every week.

“Do I gain anything by wondering or saying or thinking was the speedometer right or the tach right, was NASCAR right, was I wrong? Who cares? I moved on, can’t change it. Even if they came to me today and said you know what we made a mistake it wouldn’t change anything. It is what it is. I’ve moved on and we’re here. For our team our focus is this week.”

Today’s Fast Facts

The Race: Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500

The Date: Monday, Aug. 3 (rain delayed)

The Track: Pocono Raceway ( 2.5-mile triangle)

The Time: 12:15 ET

The Distance: 200 laps/500 miles

TV: ESPN, noon, ET

Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite

2008 Polesitter: Jimmie Johnson

2008 Winner: Carl Edwards

Today’s Polesitter: Tony Stewart (On Points)

No Track For Old Man

Mark Martin’s four wins so far in 2009 have brought his career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win total to 39.

But Pocono is one of five series tracks where Martin hasn’t won. The good news? He’s placed as high as second six times, most recently in 2004. Still, Martin’s Pocono win record stands at 0-45.

Martin has a pretty good trend going in 2009. He broke through for his first win in eight attempts at Chicagoland Speedway on July 11, and posted an Indianapolis-best finish of second place last Sunday.

Other tracks where Martin has yet to win: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (0-24); Daytona International Speedway (0-48); and Homestead-Miami Speedway (0-9).

In Stewart’s grasp

Owners have swept Pocono Raceway’s Victory Lane in single seasons, and so have drivers. But no owner/driver has produced a single season sweep at Pocono Raceway.

Tony Stewart, winner of June’s Pocono 500, is halfway to that unlikely goal.

Drivers who have swept both Pocono victories in a single season include Bobby Allison (1982, DiGard), Bill Elliott (1985, Melling). Tim Richmond (1986, Hendrick), Bobby Labonte (1999, Gibbs), Jimmie Johnson (2004, Hendrick) and Denny Hamlin (2006, Gibbs).

Other owners have swept Pocono with different drivers. They include Jack Roush (2005, Carl Edwards & Kurt Busch) and Roger Penske (2000, Jeremy Mayfield & Rusty Wallace).

One owner/driver, Darrell Waltrip, posted wins in consecutive seasons at Pocono over the 1991 and 1992 seasons. Over those same two seasons, owner/driver Alan Kulwicki recorded the same feat at Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile.

Stewart can go those two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion drivers one better this week if he can repeat at Pocono as an owner/driver.

If Ryan Newman wins Sunday, Stewart joins Roush and Penske in an owner’s sweep.

Stewart’s June win at Pocono was his first points-race win as an owner/driver and the first for an owner/driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since Ricky Rudd in 1998.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, August 3 2009
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  • [...] Jeff Gordon, when asked why better in-car speed-monitoring devices have not been installed: “That’s a great question. I think it’s a little easier than that, even. In every other form of motorsports you come to pit road and you hit a button and it regulates the rpm and the mph and you just sit there at that rpm. And I don’t understand why we don’t have that, with all the technology that we have at our fingertips. I think the concern is it’s a wheel speed sensor and then you get into traction control and some of that. So that’s probably the downside to it. But we’ve gotten our tachs a lot better now and we’re able to read it pretty close.” — Racin’ Today [...]