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The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Pocono 500

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

When racing gets down to fuel mileage, there is the potential for a shakeup in the finishing order, and this week was no exception. That’s not a knock on mileage racing; it’s part of the game and the drivers that finish well still had to race all day to get in that position, usually gambling to do so. One driver who really benefited from the strategy was Marcos Ambrose, who finished sixth for the second top 10 of the year for his JTG Daugherty Racing team. Sometimes it’s not about being the best, but being the best at making the critical decision, and Ambrose and Company certainly did that at Pocono.

What… was that?

I’m not going to ask this question about something NASCAR did this week, because one driver deserves the scrutiny even more. Once again, Kyle Busch made headlines, not for his considerable skill on the racetrack, but for his actions after winning the Nationwide Series race at Nashville. Busch smashed the traditional Gibson guitar trophy, designed by renowned artist Sam Bass, on the ground in victory lane Saturday night. Busch said the stunt was so he could give a piece of the trophy to his crew, but if that was truly his intent, it could have been done in a more respectful manner, back at the shop. It looks more like a convenient excuse after it was apparent that most of Busch’s audience was disgusted with his blatant disregard for tradition and Nashville Superspeedway. Even if it wasn’t a made-up story to cover his act, the act itself was unconscionable. This was completely classless and crass, even for Busch. Actions detrimental to stock car racing? Absolutely, even if NASCAR won’t call out their media darling.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

42 positions ahead of where he started. P1, baby. Tony Stewart would have started on the front row due to rain washing away Friday’s qualifying session, but was forced to go to the back because he went to his backup car after a practice crash. Stewart ended the day stretching a tank of fuel further than many teams could hope to match. It was Stewart’s first points win as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, and teammate Ryan Newman’s fifth-place run to go with Stewart’s win served notice that this team is here to play. Stewart has the points lead heading into the hot summer months, and there is no longer a question about whether this team is a championship contender. Game on.

When… will I be loved?

This week the Most Unloved award goes not to a driver, because there were few incidents, and nobody got stupid on pit road. So this week, the award goes to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pit sign, which is obviously not big enough, bright enough or otherwise visible enough. Perhaps the No. 88 needs to make a pit-sign swap with the No. 5 team, since their sign stopped Mark Martin every time. At the very least, the slacker sign should be fired and replaced with someone who can do the job. Like maybe a billboard. With neon.

Why… didn’t TNT feel we needed to know who was involved in a last-lap wreck?

I don’t know, but all we heard is “Whoa, and a wreck” followed by the typical postrace fare. Way to start your season, TNT. And just when I was glad to finally to be rid of Larry and Darrell, too.

How… late will Robby Gordon sleep on Monday?

I don’t know either, but Gordon must be one tired racecar driver after a weekend of racing that included the Baja 500 off-road race on Saturday in Mexico as well as a trip to Pocono, where Gordon arrived at about 5:00 in the morning on Sunday. That’s 1,000 miles of racing in two days, separated by about 3,000 miles. But in case anyone questions the move, Gordon won the Baja 500, making the trip worth every mile.

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