LONG POND, Pa.- With the longest straight in NASCAR at over 3,700 feet and gear changes on every lap, Pocono Raceway is one of the circuit's most punishing tracks for powertrains. Attrition was higher than normal during the Pocono 500 on Sunday,...
LONG POND, Pa.- With the longest straight in NASCAR at over 3,700 feet and gear changes on every lap, Pocono Raceway is one of the circuit's most punishing tracks for powertrains. Attrition was higher than normal during the Pocono 500 on Sunday, with engine or transmission failures either slowing or sidelining the likes of Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Terry Labonte and Jeremy Mayfield.
"When you're turning them that hard, it's hard to make them live," said Mike Skinner, whose Kodak Chevrolet smacked the wall after an internal engine failure. "We're turning them over 9,500 and we just really used the motor up."
Just barely, NASCAR managed a full Winston Cup field at Pocono when journeyman Carl Long and ARCA champion Frank Kimmel filled out the lineup to 43 cars. Kimmel ended an infuriating Pocono weekend when his Advance Auto Parts Ford picked up debris in the grille and overheated. Kimmel parked the car. In the previous day's ARCA race, Kimmel cut a tire while leading on the final lap.
"It got up to 255 (degrees) and we can't burn a motor down, so we just shut it off," he said. "Once you get a couple of laps down, I wasn't going to get in those guys' way."
Ryan Newman had a second straight weekend of not making friends. Last week at Dover, he admitted triggering a crash that took out Steve Park, who angrily ripped Newman on the MRN broadcast. Yesterday at Pocono, he tangled with Kurt Busch, who likewise wasn't happy.
"I got wrecked running 35 laps down," Busch said. "I don't understand why people have to run into us."
Johnny Benson returned to the MBV Motorsports Eagle One Pontiac for the first time since sustaining injuries early last month in a Busch Series crash at Richmond. He started 27th after Pocono qualifying was rained out and finished 20th, one lap down.
"I felt really good the first part of the race," Benson said. "But with about 60 to 70 laps to go, I got to where I was hurting pretty bad. That's a long ways here and I started to get pretty sore. It probably wasn't fair to the team because I got to where I couldn't tell where the car was going. We'll be a lot better next week."
The Pocono 500's final caution on lap 167 led to reversals of fortune for both Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. Martin's team was gambling on fuel, and he believed the win would have been theirs had the race stayed green.
"We just don't ever seem to win them on fuel mileage," Martin said. "Based on them having to pit one more time than us, that's about the only way we were going to do it here. I'm not complaining. We finished second today, and that ain't all bad."
Combined with Ricky Rudd's misfortune, the caution put Jarrett in an unexpected position to win.
"That's when you know prayer works," Jarrett said. "I thought we didn't have a chance. But when that caution came out, we had a chance to do what we had to do."