The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Pennsylvania 500 Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Tuesday August 4, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Pennsylvania 500 Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Tuesday August 4, 2009


Each week, the Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite Frontstretch writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Each of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Pennsylvania 500 live blog.

Five Points to Ponder:

ONE: Should Iowa Speedway get a Cup Series date?
Fan Vote — YES: 88%; NO: 12%

The first Nationwide Series race at Iowa was one of the better races of the year, and now has fans wanting it on the Sprint Cup schedule ASAP.

Iowa Speedway was a relative unknown to NASCAR fans before this weekend, most of whom only associated with the track because of its designer and part-owner Rusty Wallace. But the three-year-old, .875-mile oval that has hosted IndyCar races since its inception stood front and center Saturday afternoon and put on one of the better Nationwide Series races this season in front of a packed house. It was a pleasant surprise for NASCAR fans sick and tired of single-file racing at cookie-cutter tracks, and now has those same fans talking about their desire for a Cup Series date in the near future. I’ll agree the track passed its first test with flying colors, and still has yet another chance Sept. 5 to wow fans with the Truck Series. I say leave those two series there for another couple of years, but if the racing continues to impress, and fans keep showing up, throw it on the Cup schedule.

TWO: Should Pocono have two Cup Series dates?
Fan Vote – YES: 36%; NO: 64%

One of the few tracks not owned by SMI or ISC, the Pocono Speedway has hosted NASCAR races since the 1970’s and has had its share of wild races and stinkers. It’s no different than any other track in that regard, but the fact that it’s relatively a single-groove track and has its two races just two months apart has had fans calling for a date to be cut. The June race was an absolute clunker… but Monday’s race was pretty darn exciting. It’s easy to forget every track two miles or larger (other than the superspeedways) have their boring moments, especially on long green flag runs, but they also have the potential for great racing – like what we just saw on Monday. That, and the fact that the triangular layout is a different type of configuration that provides a challenge to both drivers and crew chiefs, I say keep two dates… although I will agree the races should be shortened.

THREE: Who should have gotten the five-lap penalty between Robby Gordon and David Stremme?
Fan Vote – Robby Gordon: 0%; David Stremme: 57%; Both: 29%; Neither 14%

One of the more intriguing moments of Monday’s race was the multiple run-ins between backmarkers David Stremme and Robby Gordon. Gordon had been having one of the few good runs we see out of the No. 7 team each season before Stremme put him in the wall. Gordon radioed into his team that he was going out for revenge, but when he roughed up Stremme upon his return to the track, Stremme responded by dumping the No. 7 car once again. This triggered a five-lap penalty for both drivers and an interesting discussion over on the live blog. Everybody seemed to agree that Gordon was not at fault (although NASCAR later said Gordon hit Stremme under caution, something ESPN didn’t catch) and that he should not have been black-flagged. I think Stremme should have gotten a more severe penalty than Gordon, but the fact that Gordon threatened retaliation and later made contact with the driver he threatened means he should have had some sort of penalty.

FOUR: Will Kyle Busch make the Chase?
Fan Vote – YES: 67%; NO: 33%

I’ve been on the record in the past few weeks that Busch will indeed make the Chase this season, but he’s not really helping me out. The No. 18 team as a whole just appears to be in a funk right now, and time’s running out. While I’m not going to completely back off my prediction, I will say that Busch — now 101 points behind the Chase cutoff — must post a top 5 next week at Watkins Glen, or hope for bad luck from Matt Kenseth or Greg Biffle to have a chance at the top 12 before the cutoff.

FIVE: What grade would you give Monday’s race?
Fan Vote – A: 17%; B: 33%; C: 17%; D: 17%; F: 17%

This poll was thrown out there at the end of the blog after several people had logged off, so the answers may not be an accurate representation of what the viewers thought… but it does bring up an interesting point. While I don’t see how you could give the race an “F” – or a “D” for that matter – fans weren’t really sure whether it was a great race for an average race. Perhaps previous snoozefests at Pocono may have skewed the results a bit, but I’d say the race deserved a solid “B.” The final 40 laps were just as exciting as any we’ve seen all year, there was the confrontation between Gordon and Stremme, and there was a late-race battle for the lead. Still, some boring moments and a couple of controversial cautions dropped it from a potential “A.”

Five Notes to Ponder:

Emotional win for Hamlin: Denny Hamlin has had the bad luck monkey on his back for quite some time, but he picked the perfect week to return to Victory Lane, picking up an emotional win for his family after his grandmother passed away.

Kudos to Montoya…: …Not just for a second place finish, but for calling out the pit reporter who tried to start controversy between he and Kasey Kahne in his post-race interview..

Tight ARCA battle: With his win this weekend, Justin Lofton took over the points lead from 18-year-old Parker Kligermann by a mere five points with eight races remaining.

Lagasse’s last race: In his last race with the No. 11 team, Scott Lagasse, Jr. posted a solid top 10 finish, finishing 9th. He ranks 12th in points with four top 10s in 21 starts.

Hornaday domination continues: Hornaday continues to dominate the under-funded Truck Series teams, picking up consecutive win No. 5 to extend his championship lead to 216 points.

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Doug Scholl
08/04/2009 12:48 AM

I was the one that rated that race a “D”. And it was a solid “D”. As you pointed out the last 40 laps were exciting. It was a 200 lap race where the other 160 laps had to be one of the biggest snore fests of the season. The top three cars checked out on the field and everyone went into “cruise control”. I already know how that caution came out on David Ragan’s spin. The race was so boring the rumbling engines put the tower officals to sleep. Only to awake to the screech of tires and a puff of smoke and you have an instant caution. From there on out cautions bred cautions and as drivers came off of cruise control and racing happened along with alot of wrecks as drivers ran out of talent, patience or equipment. If Arrons has a contract with Fed Ex for any of it’s shipping I bet it’s terminated tomorrow.

Why is it when other cars get penalized the #11 Fed Ex car always gets a warning or absolutely no call? Does Denny Hamlin even attend drivers meetings?

What was up with ESPN trying to invent controversy between the #42 and #9? Jaun handled the accusation perfectly, with disgust for an unprofessional question. Glad Kasey grabbed Juan right away to apologize for the slide job he put on the #42.

08/04/2009 07:33 AM


Why me Oh Lord? Why me?

Did not watch most of the race, but, came in from working outside, turned on the tube beyond my better judgement, maybe 20 laps left, here is what I saw and heard: race was under yellow, cars coming down to green flag, the long camera shot down the track shows, well before the start/finish line, the #48 car jump out of line,way out of line, and actually pass maybe 4 or 6 cars, BEFORE THE START/FINISH LINE!! !! !!

AND THEN, my friends, the announcers say “remember, there is no passing on the re-start until you get to the line”!!

And then they go on to say, (1) “look at Jimmy Johnson, he gained six (6) spots since we went green”! And (2), Jimmie was three (3) laps down,and got them ALL back thru the lucky dog”!!

Can this be happening?

A single car goes from 3 laps down to lead lap ONLY DUE TO THE LUCKY DOG RULE?

And this is where my “conspiracy theory” comes in, isn’t passing BEFORE THE START/FINISH LINE even worse than gaining 1/2 second in the pits by speeding?? (referring of course to Montoya at Indy).

Talk about arbitrary rule enforcement!

And you call this “RACING”??

Based on what I watched, I would give this race an “incomplete”.

Let me know what you folks saw!

08/04/2009 09:09 AM

I have to say that Nascar was a little heavy handed this time . They normally make an effort to avoid showing the fans that the race outcome is being manipulated .
I saw two cars bounce off of the wall HARD , yet no caution . I see another car very slightly touch the wall and the yellow comes out instantly . I also couldn’t help but notice that the two cautions that fell around this time sure took a long time to get cleaned up , especially the non incident of the car touching the wall . It was almost as if Nascar was waiting for something .

08/04/2009 09:46 AM

nascrap is ALL about who you are. They “control” the race every week in some way, shape or form. What to do about it? What I did, quit attending, and if you are going to watch on tv, wait until the last 100 miles to tune in!! That is money to baby brian, if everone did this it would be corrected in 2 races!!

08/04/2009 06:20 PM

Years ago I watched every race on TV without fail. That was during the Winston Cup years and before all the changes.

Now I watch ONLY the races that I like. Which is pretty much just the short tracks. So about 2/3rds of the season I don’t watch. And forget the Chase.

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