Pocono II: Petty Enterprises race report

For the second year in a row, rain disrupted a race at Pocono. The 2007 "spring" race was shortened due to inclement weather. This race featured a 45-minute red flag period following a caution for rain on lap 127. However, the race was able to...

For the second year in a row, rain disrupted a race at Pocono. The 2007 "spring" race was shortened due to inclement weather. This race featured a 45-minute red flag period following a caution for rain on lap 127. However, the race was able to restart and complete all of the scheduled 500 miles. Rain also washed out both of Saturday's practice sessions.

Chad McCumbee and the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge team finished 17th in Sunday's event. The finish is the highest of McCumbee's Sprint Cup career. He started the race from the 34th position and he had problems early. His chassis was 'loose' at the start of the race, but he also experienced minor brake problems. The two issues combined to cause McCumbee to lose a lap to the leaders, who were setting a blistering early pace. Crew chief Stewart Cooper and the team gradually began to get the car comfortable for McCumbee so that they would be able to capitalize on a 'Lucky Dog' Award. The 'Lucky Dog' came at the lap 127 caution for rain. From that point on, McCumbee was one of the fastest cars on the racetrack. He has always enjoyed racing at Pocono's unusual layout and it showed as he passed 10 cars for position in the last 20 laps. McCumbee made 122 green flag passes on the day, good for 13th out of the 43 drivers in the field. McCumbee's finish moved the No. 45 Dodge up one position in Sprint Cup owner points.

"We had a few things to work out at the start of the race and we can probably attribute that to not having been able to practice on Saturday," said McCumbee. "You hate to lose a lap, but it's not too bad here because you know that you can put yourself in position to pick up a 'Lucky Dog.' We were fortunate to do that. I'll tell you, my car was flying over those last two runs. That's what you want. You need your last couple of runs to be your best and Stewart did a great job in giving me a fast car at the end."

Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team finished 33rd on Sunday. Labonte is a three time winner at Pocono and he swept both races in 1999. He began the race from the 11th position, a solid qualifying effort for the team. When the green flag fell, Labonte radioed to crew chief Jeff Meendering that he had a 'tight' racecar in the middle of turn 3, but a 'loose' car everywhere else. Meendering made adjustments to the track bar, tire pressures and chassis, which improved the car, but it was still 'loose' off of each of the flat corners at Pocono. After the rain delay, Labonte drove back up to the 11th position. However, the handling of the No. 43 Dodge began to deteriorate and Meendering called Labonte down pit road on several occasions to improve the condition. This relegated him to 33rd.

"None of us are sure what exactly happened," stated Labonte. "We've had a fast car since we unloaded on Friday, but it seemed like a different car today. Missing practice yesterday obviously hurt us. We tried using strategy to gain a few spots, but it was hard to come up with a strategy today. You didn't know if the rain would hold out or not. I'm proud of my team because they worked hard today."

-credit: pe

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Chad McCumbee