What a difference a day makes Tony Stewart was very disappointed in his Home Depot Chevrolet Monte Carlo following qualifying on Friday. The winner of June's 500-miler here, Stewart was expected to challenge for the pole again this month, but he...
What a difference a day makes
Tony Stewart was very disappointed in his Home Depot Chevrolet Monte Carlo following qualifying on Friday. The winner of June's 500-miler here, Stewart was expected to challenge for the pole again this month, but he could do no better than 33rd on his two-lap time-trial run. All that changed Saturday morning, as Stewart was the fastest car in the first morning practice session. Saturday morning practice sessions, dubbed "Happy Hour," are used to chase race setups for Sunday's 200-lap grind around Pocono's triangle-shaped layout. Stewart's best lap was 54.251 seconds at 165.896 miles per hour. Jimmie Johnson, who will start on the outside of the front row Sunday, was sixth in the first session, and Jeff Gordon, co-owner of Johnson's car, rebounded from 25th to run eighth in the first session. John Andretti, who qualified an impressive fifth in the NetZero Pontiac, was 19th in the first session, the fastest of the Grands Prix in the field.
In the second practice, speeds were generally slower as the track took heat from an unseasonably warm Pennsylvania morning sun. Jeff Green was the top Monte Carlo in the second session, clocking in third at 164.084 miles per hour. Pontiac's Ricky Craven was fifth-fastest in the Tide Pontiac Grand Prix, while Bobby Labonte was ninth in his Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo. Joe Nemechek rounded out the top 10 in the second session, driving the UAW-Delphi Monte Carlo.
John Andretti has the distinction of being the only driver in the field who has competed at Pocono in both Winston Cup and Indy Cars. A regular in Indy Car racing for several seasons, Andretti ran two races at Pocono before the open-wheel series quit racing here in 1991. Currently driving the NetZero Pontiac Grand Prix, Andretti has been reunited with crew chief Tony Furr, who engineered Andretti's first Winston Cup victory at Talladega in 1997 while the two were at Cale Yarborough Racing.
Pocono Quick Shots
Since Bobby Labonte swept both Pocono events in 1999, there have been seven different race winners on the 2.5-mile triangular-shaped speedway. Labonte, who drives the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo, is one of only four drivers to sweep both races here, and he's finished eighth or better in six of his last 10 starts here, including three victories. He won the pole here in June for the Pocono 500.
Tony Stewart has run nine races at Pocono in his Winston Cup career. In eight of those races he has finished worse than seventh just once. He won the Pocono 500 here in June, his first victory of the 2003 season.
Stewart's victory here in June broke an eight-race winless streak for Chevrolet at Pocono. Prior to Stewart's triumph, the last Chevrolet driver to win here was Jeff Gordon in second race in 1998.
There's something to be said for consistency. Jimmie Johnson and Michael Waltrip are the only drivers to have been ranked in the top 10 in NASCAR points after every race this season.
Chevrolet has 10 Bud Poles this season in 20 races, and Monte Carlos have led at least one lap in all 20 races. Pontiac, on the other hand, has led just six of the 20 races and the most laps led in any one race has been eight, by Johnny Benson at Sonoma.
Michael Waltrip has been running at the finish of 29 consecutive races in the NAPA Chevrolet.
NASCAR Winston Cup Manufacturer Points after 19 races:
(Victories in parentheses)
Chevrolet (9) 136
Ford (6) 121
Dodge (2) 91
Pontiac (1) 70
NASCAR Winston Cup Driver's Point Standings after 19 races:
(Chevrolet drivers in bold)
1. Matt Kenseth 2,848
2. Jeff Gordon 2,614
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,575
4. Bobby Labonte 2,472
5. Jimmie Johnson 2,429
6. Michael Waltrip 2,373
7. Kevin Harvick 2,316
8. Kurt Busch 2,243
9. Tony Stewart 2,226
10. Jeff Burton 2,200
17. Ricky Craven (Pontiac) 2,019
24. Johnny Benson (Pontiac) 1,804
Chevrolet's Gen IV Indy V-8 made its debut Friday at Michigan International Speedway in impressive style. Sam Hornish Jr., the top Chevy runner in the Indy Racing League this season and the two-time defending series champion, topped practice for the Firestone Indy 400. Hornish's best lap was nearly 224 miles per hour.
Chevrolet drivers are racing in four major motorsports series this weekend:
The ALMS Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, the Indy Racing League Firestone Indy 400, the Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race in Long Pond, Pa. and the NHRA Carquest Auto Parts Nationals in Seattle. Chevrolet is the only manufacturer currently competing in the ALMS, Indy Racing League, NASCAR Winston Cup and NHRA.