Pocono Storylines & Other Random Ramblings

by Jim on June 7, 2013

Kenseth in GarageFrom drivers seeking to reverse their flagging fortunes to the ever-increasingly competitive race for the Chase, this Sunday’s race at Pocono figures big in a number of story lines:

Toyota drivers have to be coming in feeling more than a little bit snake bit. Toyota Racing Development’s Lee White announced he will be stepping down. Is it a coincidence that this coincides with all the recent engine failures experienced by Toyota drivers? What about the compliance issues that cost championship contender Matt Kenseth valuable points? It doesn’t seem real coincidental does it? TRD says they’ve ironed out the parts issues. Others say durability has been sacrificed in the name of power. If I’m Matt Kenseth and I miss the 2013 championship, in part, largely because of manufacturer issues, I expect an apology.

TNT takes over their portion of the schedule. The latest number reported at Jayski indicates the ratings for FOX were flat for 2013 compared to 2012. How fitting; at least in this fan’s opinion, FOX could benefit from a shake-up. I am not as critical as many about the presence of Ol’ DW in the booth, but it sure seems like, given all changes to NASCAR’s landscape, fans could benefit from the perspective of a more recently retired driver. It’s time for a fresh driver and crew chief perspective. To be fair, the other networks- including TNT- play to mixed reviews as well. It will be interesting to see how their inaugural broadcast of 2013 is received by fans; many of them clamoring not for new voices, but old ones, like Bob Jenkins and the venerable Ned Jarrett.

Was Tony Stewart’s victory at Dover the beginning of a trend, or was it a product of attrition? Can Denny Hamlin score his fifth career win at Pocono to aid his slim Chase hopes? Just 21 point separate the 8th place driver from the driver in 13th place. How will Sunday’s race affect the standings?

Jimmie Johnson’s penalty for jumping the re-start raised a lot of conversation about rules on re-starts. Many are critical of the double file restarts, and how address what happens when the driver not in first jumps the gun. There are more than a couple who say NASCAR would be wise to adopt rules similar to what are done on local tracks. Whatever the case, consensus is lacking. Does it seem like I’m working a consistent theme here? Whatever the case, in this humble opinion, NASCAR made the right call last Sunday.

There’s a feeling Joey Logano is rapidly accelerating near his next win and his first with Penske. He’s been more competitive this year and managed to avoid recent trouble. Don’t forget the guy my buddy Mad Mikie calls Joey The Giraffe won the last race here. It’s also nice to see Aric Almirola achieving better results more consistently for Richard Petty. Former Penske racer Kurt Busch has definitely done his part to raise the profile of NASCAR lone wolf Furniture Row Racing. Based in Denver, FRR is kind of out there on their own, something the 2004 champion knows a thing or two about.

Has anybody noticed Carl Edwards elevated status in the standings? Other than his win at Phoenix, he’s been pretty darn quiet. This happens against a backdrop of shall we say, a season of discontent with the overall performance of Edwards’ team, Roush Racing. Teammate Greg Biffle was quoted in anthoer article seen today that the issues are “systemic.”

It will be interesting to see how the Gen 6 cars perform on the long straightaway at Pocono. It’s just an opinion, but the new car appears (that’s the operative word) to be an improvement over the Car of Tomorrow, but its still a work in progress as clean air is still king. With that said, I believe there’s more racing for position than we’ve seen in the past.

Oh- before I go- the Nationwide Series is stopping at one of my favorite tracks this week- Iowa. If the Cup series can’t race here, they really need to replicate the feel of this track somewhere. You know what’s also nice? With the Cup guys in PA, there are very few “Buschwhackers” in this field.

If you have a “Sun Dance” use it. The forecast for Pocono is a little concerning. ]

Have a great weekend, and keep it off the walls!


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